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Weight Loss

TikTok’s #Watertok Trend: How the Tasty Twist on Drinking Water Boosts Weight Loss

Plus tasty recipes that make it so easy to stay hydrated

With more than 220 million views, TikTok has gone wild for videos about zero-sugar water in crazy flavors like orange mermaid and unicorn cotton candy. Fan insist the drinks make it fun to hydrate, boost energy and burn more fat. And TikTok’s #Watertok trend basically all started on Tonya Spanglo’s kitchen floor. “I was playing with my granddaughter. Suddenly my mom, whose Alzheimer’s was getting worse, started trying to get out the front door. I went to stop her, but I couldn’t get up,” recalls the Oklahoma influencer, 46, who weighed 395 pounds. “I tried and tried. I was crying, in a full sweat. I couldn’t do it. I had to call my husband.”

That moment led Tonya to push through fear and have gastric sleeve surgery. She then carefully stuck to a high-protein diet and followed doctor orders to a T, except… “I was supposed to drink 64 oz. of water a day, but even a couple glasses turned my stomach. I thought, Holy cow, I can’t do this.” Does drinking water help you lose weight? “I didn’t lose like I should,” says Tonya. “My doctor said I was a slow loser.” So she started looking for a way to drink more. And she found it at T.J.Maxx.

How drinking water and #Watertok helps boost weight loss

While bargain shopping, Tonya spied a shelf of Jordan’s Skinny Syrup in flavors like unicorn and mermaid. They were intended for summer cocktails, but Tonya — who already used more traditional flavors of the brand’s syrups in her morning protein coffee — had a different idea. “I bought a few, put them in my water and it was a game changer,” she says. Experimenting with different syrups and zero-sugar powdered drink mixes, she began to exceed her water goals. Her slow weight loss suddenly sped up. “Now my doctor tells everyone about my waters,” she smiles.

Tonya also tells everyone: She has 1.3 million followers on TikTok, and has faithfully shared her journey and hundreds of water recipes using the hashtag “watertok” Videos featuring unicorn and mermaid syrup are perennial favorites. Meanwhile, her “Mountain Dew Water” — made with zero-sugar Tang and lime syrup — amassed 4 million views; Piña Colada Water with pineapple drink mix and coconut syrup got 5.6 million. And #watertok became a viral sensation.

Related: Adding the New Flavored ‘Skinny Syrups’ to Water Is Helping Women Lose 200+ lbs — Discover How It Can Work For You

As Tonya sipped (even through difficult times, like the passing of her mom), she found herself down 280 pounds. Meanwhile, countless other women, most of whom haven’t had bariatric surgery, say Tonya’s water strategy has helped them achieve their weight and health goals too. But some critics insist flavored waters made with artificial ingredients can’t possibly help burn fat or boost health. To find out if their arguments, ahem, hold water, we turned to experts.

Proof flavored waters can help speed fat burn

Turns out, there’s plenty of science to explain why sipping #watertok flavored water can work wonders for some of us. “A healthy body is about 60% water and becomes dehydrated if we lose as little as 3% of that fluid, which happens easily as we perspire on a hot day,” notes Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, former head of nutrition for Weight Watchers. “Without adequate hydration, our cells can’t function properly and things like brain function, immunity and metabolism all suffer.”

Hydrate and many of these problems are instantlysolved. For example, our brains function so much better when we’re hydrated that drinking at least 5 glasses a day was found to slash risk of anxiety and depression in half. And London says that, despite their additives, flavored waters hydrate like virtually any other fluid. “So it makes perfect sense that Tonya experienced greater weight loss when she started hydrating.” Now, you might think plain water is better for cells. “But only if you actually drink it,” says London. “Many women simply don’t.”

If you’re skeptical about the impact of artificial flavors and sweeteners, consider this: For a University of Colorado study, hundreds of weight-loss program participants were asked to consume either 24 oz. of plain water or 24 oz. of zero-calorie flavored water daily. The flavored group ultimately shed triple the weight of the plain water group. We’re just more apt to drink flavored water, making it “superior for weight loss,” per the team.

Related: Experts Reveal the Sneaky Symptoms of Dehydration You Might Be Missing + How to up Your Water Intake

Why water quiets hunger

Another trend Tonya got in on: Sipping from a 40-oz. Stanley tumbler. That’s key because Dutch researchers using MRIs found that drinking just 12 oz. of fluid stretches the stomach to double its usual size, which sends stop-eating messages to the brain.

And though scientists don’t fully understand why, a separate study found water with the zero-sugar sweetener stevia actually reduced hunger far more than plain water. Wow!

Tonya says she still has “head hunger” — strong urges to eat even when her stomach is full. “It happens in the afternoon a lot. I try to drink my water then,” she says. “It really helps!”

Related: “I Lost 224 Lbs — More Than Half My Size! — With This Keto Hack That Cured My Cravings”

How women over 50 benefit from water and #watertok

Research shows aging cells struggle to hold on to water needed for mitochondria in cells to turn fuel into energy. Yet the older we are, the less thirsty we tend to feel. So metabolism fizzles.

To see if extra water would help fix the problem, Virginia Tech scientists put adults aged 55–75 on a diet and asked half to drink 16 oz. of water before meals. What happened? The water group lost significantly more body fat even though calorie consumption in both groups was virtually identical. In other words, metabolism was sizzling again.

As a bonus, if you add lots of ice to your water like Tonya does, studies show you burn 30% more calories for an hour as your body warms the liquid.

The bottom line? If flavored water appeals to you, go for it. “In my experience as a dietician, one small shift in behavior often leads to a whole cascade of other behaviors that can transform a person’s health,” says London. Her tip for knowing how much water is enough? Hit the bathroom. “You want your pee no darker than a light straw color. If it’s light, you’re hydrated.”

Related: Need to Drink More Water? The Trick May Be Using an Emotional Support Water Bottle

Watertok success: Tonya Spanglo’s story

Before and after photos of Tonya Spanglo who lost 280 lbs with the help of #watertok and flavored waters
Valerie Betterton

Tonya first used food for comfort when her parents divorced. “I wore a size 22 by high school,” she shares. Shakes and diet pills helped a bit, “but once I got pregnant, I couldn’t seem to stop eating — pizza, Taco Bell, Snickers, Coke.” Her weight climbed as high as 430 pounds; she developed countless health issues.

Unable to lose on her own, doctors suggested surgery—but it was risky at her size, so she put it off. “Now, I’m trying to make up for lost time.” That means she’ll continue eating right and drinking her water. “I get up to 99 ounces a day!” She’s off all medications and has more energy than ever. “The other day, I went down the slide at the park just because I could,” says the grandmother of three. “It was the best feeling ever!”

Tonya encourages everyone to drink up — plain water, water with natural flavorings, crazy #watertok creations or whatever floats your boat and gets you to stay well-hydrated. If you’re anything like her, you;ll be surprised by the difference it makes.  “Anything you can do to get healthier is worth it, and drinking water is easy. You are the greatest investment you’ll ever make!”

Related: Shed Up to 15 Pounds in a Week With This Easy Twist on the Water Detox

How to make flavored water work for you

You can use fun flavored water recipes to help you stay hydrated and boost results on any healthy eating plan. Want to try an approach like Tonya’s? Track your food/drinks on a free app like Cronometer. Keep portions moderate and aim for about 64 oz. water (plain or zero-sugar flavored) and 80 grams protein daily. If you want to try her favorite syrups, use code TONYA42 for 10% off your first order of Jordan’s Skinny Syrup, at

Triple-citrus sun drop

To 40 oz. water and ice, add zero-sugar lemon, lime and orange — one packet mix or two pumps syrup for each flavor.

Strawberry shortcake

To 40 oz. water and ice, add 2 packets zero-sugar strawberry drink mix and 2 pumps vanilla almond syrup.

Easy apple pie


APPLE PIE WATER🇺🇸 Hat is from @thestagok #water #WATERTOK #applepie Thanks for the hat & straw topper Shirley!❤️🤍💙

♬ original sound – Tonya💗

To 40 oz. apple-flavored sparkling water (Clear American) and ice, add 2 pumps brown sugar cinnamon syrup.

Bonus recipe: Tonya’s Patriotic Sparkler

Tonya says this drink tastes like a red-white-and-blue Bomb Pop Popsicle


  • 1 packet zero-sugar blue raspberry drink mix, such as Starburst brand
  • 1 packet zero-sugar cherry drink mix, such as Nerds brand
  • 1 pump zero-sugar cherry or berry syrup, such as Jordan’s Skinny Syrup (optional)
  • 1 splash plain or Clear American brand Red White & Blue Pop sparkling water


  1. In small cup, mix 8 oz. water and blue mix. In large tumbler, mix 8 oz. water, red mix and syrup.
  2. Fill tumbler almost to top with ice, then pour in blue raspberry water. Top with sparkling water.

Click through for more on ways the beverages we choose can boost wellness and weight loss:

“I Lost 233 Pounds at Age 62!” — Here Are the Protein Shakes She Used to Jumpstart Weight Loss

Proffee: The Delicious Breakfast Helping Women Over 60 Lose Weight EffortlesslyThe 2-Ingredient Iced Tea Proven To Power Off Over-50 Midsection Fat — Fast!

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