Water: The easiest change with the biggest benefit
It's so simple! Drink enough water & feel better
It's not hard to see why the body needs water. We are made of it!
The Human Body - 60-75% water
The Brain - 75% water
Blood - 92% water
Bones - 22% water
Muscles - 75% water
If our normal levels drop by even 1% there can be serious consequences in basic functions. We can survive for long periods of time without food but water is a different story.
Scientifically speaking, water delivers nutrients to your cells and helps remove toxins and metabolic waste from the cells. ALL of your cells need water. Water is also necessary outside of your cells and the balance of water inside and outside your cells is regulated by water.
[Note: be sure to check out further reading and references at the bottom of the article]
Why drink more water?
- Slight dehydration is the #1 cause of daytime fatigue and reduction in brain function
My clients are busy people - boardrooms, running around after kids, a full dance card every day. The very first thing I try to advise on is to drink enough water.
That afternoon slump might just as simple as not having consumed enough water throughout the day. Why not eliminate this possibility by keeping water within reach all day long.
- Water consumption can reduce appetite and staying hydrated can reduce the risk of unnecessary weight gain
Drinking a glass or two of water 30 minutes before each meal has been shown in several studies to reduce the amount of calories we consume in each sitting. Even with a balanced diet, we often still eat too much. Drinking water before the meal can reduce your appetite, helping you feel fuller faster, increasing your metabolic rate, and ensure that you digestive system is ready to break down the food once it gets there.
Additionally, a state of dehydration can cause your body to experience stress which can cause it to store fat rather than burn it. I like to rule out any potential reasons why your body might store fat rather than metabolise it.
[Note: it's not fat consumption per se that is stored as fat by the body. Most of the fat that is stored comes from sugars consumed which the body turns into fat. More on that soon.]
How much water?
Every body is different and has different needs. An easy indicator of your hydration level is your urine. If your pee is dark yellow or orange in color, you need to drink more water until it is almost clear (of course other ailments such as a UTI can lead to changes in urine color so please keep that in mind. This measure for hydration is strictly "all other things being equal").
A good rule of thumb is to drink 2-3 litres of water a day and listen to your body as you do. Men typically need to drink more water than women do. You also retrieve a lot of water from the foods you eat and there are plenty of foods that have a high water content.
Many studies have advised consuming half you body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water. So if someone weighs 180 pounds they should look to drink 90 ounces of water which is about 2.5 litres.
"But I have to pee all the time!"
This is a very common gripe. Drinking more water leads to lots more trips to the toilet which can be disruptive to your day. I hear you! Luckily you can drink more water AND absorb more water (rather than it just passing through you) by adding a small pinch of salt to your bottle or glass which helps replenish electrolytes, which is especially important when you are exercising.
Higher electrolyte concentration = more fluids to that area, low concentration = less. Keep those electrolytes high and the body will absorb the water it needs rather than passing it through.
--> Has anyone seen that David Attenborough film where the elephants navigate through a dark cave just to get to salt? Salt is essential for your body (refined table salt, on the other hand, is terrible though. Stick to unrefined natural salts only!). Salt helps to keep the water levels inside and outside your cells regulated.
"I always forget to drink water!"
My trick is to start the day with a glass of water with fresh lime juice and some Himalayan pink rock salt. This particular salt carries a lot of minerals and is really nourishing to the adrenals which can have a positive effect on how you feel all day.
I like to drink out of a water bottle rather than a glass during the day as it means less trips to refill, plenty of water is always within easy reach and I can easily work out how much I have drunk so far.
A good rule of thumb is to try to drink a litre by lunch and a litre by dinner. By that time you have consumed 2 litres and plenty more through the food your have consumed throughout the day.
It's such a simple change to make to your day that has so many far reaching effects. A small change that equals a big step towards a healthier you and a new normal.
So get drinking (water)!
*Drinking too much water can be harmful. Always listen to your body, If you feel like you're swimming on the inside, reduce the amount you're drinking.
- Great article on science based benefits of drinking enough water from Authority Nutrition
- Great article on water consumption citing scientific studies on CNN.com
- Another good source on the role of water in the system on Stayinghealthy.org
- Interesting items and a good collation of several studies on the aptly named site Water Benefits Health
- Body builders are the testing ground for a lot of scientific breakthroughs in health studies as they are pretty extreme and try everything! Here is an interesting article on water consumption on bodybuilding.com
- Water Benefits infographic from Infographicspedia