Water's Critical Role in Weight Loss
As incredible as it may seem, WATER is quite possibly the single most important catalyst in weight loss! In fact, WATER may be the only true “magic potion” for permanent weight loss! WATER is simple. WATER is pure. You might even say WATER is MAGIC!
Why We Need Water
- Water helps to maintain proper muscle tone by giving muscles their natural ability to contract and expand. It also helps to prevent the sagging skin that oftentimes result from weight loss. Shrinking cells are buoyed by water which plumps the skin leaving it resilient, supple and looking soft and lustrous! This wonderful side-effect is usually noticed within just a couple weeks of starting this life-giving new habit.
- Water is “the importer of nutrients and the exporter of waste.” Waste that results from the body's metabolic processes includes fat loss. Particles such as ions and molecules must also be able to move around biological organisms in the body and WATER is their vehicle! During weight loss, the body is ridding itself of more waste than usual and all that metabolized fat must exit the body. So perhaps an extra trip to the bathroom or two from drinking more water isn't so bad after all?
- Nearly all systems in your body require water. Your body uses water in all of its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate temperature and to maintain bodily functions like moistening tissues of the eyes, nose, and mouth. Water protects organs and tissue, lubricates joints, helps to dissolve minerals and nutrients making them available to the body for use, as well as carrying nutrients and oxygen to the cells. Since your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion; it's important to rehydrate by drinking fluids (mostly water) and by eating foods that contain water (fruits and vegetables contain an average of 92.2% water, broths and soups about 92%, plain yogurt 88%, cottage cheese 80% and Skim milk 80%).
Top 9 Benefits of Drinking Water:
1) Water increases energy
2) Water relieves fatigue
3) Water promotes weight loss
4) Water flushes out toxins
5) Water helps maintain regularity
6) Water improves skin complexion
7) Water boosts the immune system
8) Water is a natural headache remedy
9) Water can help prevent cramps & sprains.
9 Signs that May Indicate you Need More Water:
1) Little or no urine
2) Urine that is darker than usual
3) Dry mouth
4) Sleepiness or fatigue
5) Extreme thirst
8) Dizziness or lightheadedness
9) No tears when crying.
*Note: please also consult with your primary care physician if you are experiencing symptoms of unwellness.
YES! Water Helps With Weight Loss!
Not only is water a natural appetite suppressant, but it actually assists the body with metabolizing stored fat! Studies show that even a slight decrease in water consumption will increase fat deposits while an increase in water consumption will reduce fat deposits! Here’s why: When the kidneys don’t function to their normal capacity due to insufficient water intake, some of their workload is transferred onto the liver. Since one of the liver’s primary functions is to convert fat into usable energy - having to take on even a small amount of the kidney’s function equates to slower metabolism and slower fat loss! So, YES! WATER helps facilitate weight loss!
WATER remains the absolute most effective treatment for fluid retention! This is why so many of us experience relief from that "puffy feeling" as one of the first (and almost immediate) side-effects of going on a healthy weight loss program! You see, the lack of hydration threatens the body’s very survival and causes fluid retention in your body’s extracellular spaces. So unless you look forward to having swollen feet, legs, hands and puffy eyes, give your body what it needs and drink up!
Water helps with hard stool and/or constipation. Any time you change the way you eat or drink, you’ll experience changes in the way your body processes and eliminates waste. For example, clear urine is telling you “Yes, you’re getting enough water”, whereas dark yellow urine may be indicating a need for more. Many people who don’t routinely eat enough protein may initially experience hardening of the stool when they initially increase their protein intake. With water (and a little time) normal bowel function will return. Additionally, inadequate water forces the body to siphon fluid from vital organs to facilitate bowel movements. Not good!
As a side note: the jury is still out on weather or not water temperature causes faster weight loss, but we do know that the science shows that cold water is absorbed into the system more quickly than warm water. But hey, if you can get more water in by drinking it warm or at room temperature...go for it! The point is, after all, quantity, not temperature!
How Much Water Do We Need?
As adults of any size or health condition, the vast majority of us will need 8 8-oz. glasses a day (or 64 ounces). The larger your body mass, the larger the metabolic load for your body to effectively manage. So, those with more weight to lose may need to consume more water. It is recommended to drink an additional 8 oz. of water for every 25 pounds of excess weight you aspire to shed. Exercise can also play a role in water needs. If you participate in vigorous exercise, then go ahead and add another 8 oz. glass for every 15 minutes of activity. If it's hot and dry, and you find yourself sweating outside, then this could also be reason to increase your water intake as well.
Here’s an example of how quickly your water intake can add up:
64oz - Every person needs (whether overweight or not)
24oz - 45 minutes of exercise (8oz for each 15 minutes)
8oz - Actively losing 25 pounds (8oz for each 25 pounds)
Oh, and a note on weight loss during exercise! If you weigh yourself before and after your workouts - as some are accustomed to doing - the reduction you may see in your weight will be equal to the amount of water lost during your workout due to sweating and breathing harder, etc. This is also the amount of water you’ll want to replace.
Let’s talk about HOW to fit more water into your day.
When you consider the Center for Disease Control’s recent study that concluded: “Forty-three percent of adults drink less than four cups of water a day (that’s only 24oz), with 7 percent reporting they don’t drink any water at all”, we realize that though this may be a tall order for many of us; we have some important work to do! Be patient with yourself as you take the steps to begin drinking water. The more water you drink, the more water you’ll want. Amazingly true!
Many people find it very helpful to use “physical prompts” to help remind them to drink more water. Following are some examples you can try. If they don’t appeal to you, then we implore you to use your own creative imagination to come up with even more ideas!
- If you’re spending the majority of your day working at a desk, you might place six to eight large paper clips on your work space in a spot where you’ll literally see them all day long. You can use marbles, stones, pieces of gum...anything really. Assign a value to each one...16oz perhaps. Note: 96oz is a good amount of water to shoot for during weight loss; so, drinking 6ea 16oz bottles would equal 96oz when done. Each time you complete a 16oz bottle, put one paper clip away...now you’ll being reminded “You’ve got five more to go...then four, then three... etc. You just have to remember to put them out again for the next day!
- How about using actual bottles of water...line them up and you’ll be physically reminded all day long to “drink up”!
- How about making good use of your commute to and from work? Many get concerned that they’ll be stuck in traffic when the urge hits. Don’t worry! If your commute is 45 minutes, wait until you’re about 15 minutes into your drive; you’re not going to need to use the facilities for a good 30 minutes after you start drinking so, have no fear! By the way, using a straw really helps. If your goal is to drink 96 ounces per day, do this: in the commute from home to your office, drink the first 32oz. Then, when you get to work, fill up your container and plan on sipping on it all day long to get in the next 32 oz. Then, right as you’re getting ready to leave work, fill up and drink the last 32oz on your way home! Voila! You’re done!
- Since water is a great natural appetite suppressant, have a 16oz glass right before each meal or snack. You’ll be working toward your water goal AND you’ll find you have less room to fill up on food at the same time! If you eat three meals and three small healthy snacks per day and have your 16oz bottle before each of them, then once again your mission of getting in 96oz per day is accomplished!
- How about this? Drink 32oz by 12pm, another 32oz by 4pm, and your final 32oz by 7pm! You’re good for the rest of the night and you’re done, done & done!
The Bottom Line?
When your body gets the water it needs to function optimally, its fluids are perfectly balanced. This perfect balance - also known as your “break-through point” - results in improved function of literally every cell in your body. And that adds up to an overall healthier and more energetic you! The realized differences will amaze you!
Are you up for a Challenge?
Perhaps the greatest surprise while learning to drink more water will be when you realize that your natural thirst has returned and that water is so super satisfying! Many of us mistake hunger for thirst - and this is more common with the less water we drink. Mindfully assess when hunger strikes whether it's true hunger or just thirst. Test your hunger by promising to drink a glass of water and waiting 10 minutes. You may be surprised to find that more times than not, your "hunger craving" disappears by the end of the 10 minute waiting period. Thirst and cravings solved in one life-giving glass of water! Huzzah!
Donald S. Robertson, M.D. M.Sc.
Health Line and Authority Nutrition
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
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