When you consider the fact that 60% of your body, and that 73% of your total lean body mass, is composed of water, you have to consider what effect not maintaining hydration in your every day life is doing to your body. Every day we are bombarded with ideas for fad diets and stringent exercise regimes, and yet one of the most important weight loss tools is available for free right under our noses: water.
Water is integral to almost every aspect of our body’s functions. In terms of stereotypical fitness concerns, it maintains muscle tone (being that water is a primary component of lean muscle tissue), aids in weight loss and helps to maintain clear, healthy skin. If you are concerned about ease of movement during your workout, proper hydration helps to lubricate the joints, aids in circulation, and relieves lower back pain, and asthma.
Many fad diets promote the use of diuretics, such as coffee. While they seem to help you shed the pounds initially, the reality is that they are only ridding your body of precious moisture. Not only will that weight come back as soon as you are hydrated, your body will proceed to hoard water in case you decide to restrict it again, leading you to retain even more water than before.
The body’s primary task is survival, and the second you start restricting anything that it needs (or is used to getting), it will hoard it and work against your goals. Within a week of consuming the recommended amount of water, once your body is convinced it can rely on the water intake, you will begin to shed excess water retained in your body’s stores.
Water affects several other major factors leading to weight loss. Regular consumption of water throughout the day is a healthy appetite suppressant. Water is a calorie-free, cholesterol free way of filling your stomach so that you do not feel hungry all the time. Not only is it fat-free, there have been studies that show that high water consumption can actually prevent deposits of fat in your system. Instead, it encourages your body to burn those fat stores as energy.
Water In Your Diet
It is recommended that, in order to keep your body and its systems well-hydrated, you should consume eight to ten 8oz glasses of water per day. This may seem like a lot at first, but that is what your body needs in order to run efficiently and not depend on its own stores of water. If you are overweight, your body needs even more water than that in order to run efficiently. For every 25 pounds you carry over what the recommended average weight for your height, drink and extra 8 oz of water per day.
When it comes to how you consume your water, don’t try to get fancy. For weight loss, water is best when consumed ice cold, as your body will burn energy (some estimate between 50 and 100 calories) just trying to warm the water up to body temperature. If you hate the taste of plain water, add herbal, non-caffeinated tea (without added sugar if your goal is weight loss).
Do not think that substituting a sport drink for water is as good as, or better than, drinking just plain water. Aside from the added calories and carbohydrates, there is added sodium in sports drinks, which will work against your system’s water levels. The addition of electrolytes to sports drinks (including carbohydrates, sodium, chloride and potassium) is meant to replace these elements that can be lost though excessive sweating caused by exercise lasting over an hour in duration. Adding additional sodium to your body that has not lost any electrolytes through perspiration will only add excess amounts of the moisture-absorbing element to your body.
There are also different types of flavoured water on the market, including vitamin water. While drinking vitamin water certainly isn’t going to harm you, check the label to make sure that there are no added sugars or artificial flavours added.
If you are looking for the double benefit of water and nutrients, then eat foods that are high in water. As an added bonus, many foods that are high in water are also high in fibre, which will support an efficient digestive system and that will absorb needed nutrients while running waste through your system quickly.
Some great food choices include vegetables, such as celery, lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes; clear broth soups like bean or vegetable (but watch the sodium content in those); and cooked grains like rice, couscous or oatmeal. These foods will not only aid in water absorption and digestion, they are also low-energy-density foods which will help you to feel fuller with smaller portions.
Added Benefits Of Water
Aside from promoting weight loss, having adequate levels of water in your body will also help with almost all body processes. Water is present for almost any chemical reaction that happens in your body. It is also a primary component of your blood, and helps move your blood through your circulatory system.
Aside from helping in the absorption of nutrients and the movement of waste through your digestive system, a deficit of water in your body can lead to constipation. Finally, water is crucial in the removal of toxins from your system, in supporting your kidneys and liver, but also through the excretion of sweat.
The only caveat that the medical industry has about consuming water is to avoid consuming ridiculous levels. On a normal day, unless you are involved in some bizarre hazing ritual that requires you consume several water cooler jugs full of water (which actually happened at a college in the United States, leading to the death of a pledge), the chances of ingesting toxic levels of water are slim.
Hyponatremia (or “water intoxication”) most often occurs at fitness events that involve extended strenuous exertion, such as marathons, not to the every day consumer of water. Even then, the occurrence is quite rare. In the event you are involved in such an exertion, a good rule to limit your consumption to no more than 8 oz of liquid every 20 minutes. This will help your body retain the water levels it needs to run efficiently, and also to give you a fairly effortless way to shed pounds.