Hydration, hydration, hydration!

It’s the beginning of December and monthly challenge time!

Christmas is almost upon us, and  here at Be Strong we like to finish the year on a high, rather than just letting all our hard work from 2019 peter out as the party season approaches.  So, as we enter the season to eat, drink and be merry, we are going to focus on staying hydrated, to keep us looking fresh faced, and minimise the post-Christmas party hangovers.

For December, the monthly challenge is going to be hydration!

Why hydration?

It’s an old adage that you can survive without food for a couple of weeks, but you can only survive without water for 3 days, and why? Because the majority of our body is made of water – up to 60% in fact. And if we don’t keep that water level topped up, our cells don’t do what they should do, and our bodily functions suffer.

Keeping hydrated is a really simple challenge, which can have massive benefits. It gives us some structure and can be really positive behaviour change, that can impact on more than just our weight loss goals.

Why December?

In December we often fall off the wagon, we are really busy getting ready for Christmas, and our lifestyles can take a hit. We are out more at social events, eating and drinking more, and we know in all likelihood we are going to probably gain a few pounds.

However, there is one simple thing that we can do in December to help to minimise the damage of all the festive treats, and may be even give us a fighting chance of getting through the festive period without a hangover.  That one simple thing is to drink plenty of water!

What does drinking water do for me?

1 – Water flushes out toxins – Water can flush out toxins in our body through sweat and urine. It can also help our kidneys and reduces kidney stones by diluting salts and materials in our urine that cause stones.

2 – Temperature regulation – Water allows heat from the body to be released when sweat evaporates from the skin surface. It also has thermal properties and helps keep joints and muscles lubricated which reduces cramps and things like sprains.

3 – Digestion and constipation – Drinking sufficient water improves the metabolism and helps the body break down food more effectively. Warm water is particular good for digestion. If the body doesn’t have enough water then it pulls it from the stools and therefore makes them harder and difficult to pass.

4 – Reduction in headaches and migraines – These are often caused by dehydration, and research in the European Journal of Neurology found that increasing the amount of water you drink can reduce the total number of hours and intensity of headaches. No-one needs a headache at the busiest time of year!

5 -Weight loss and appetite suppression – A clinical trial found that if we drink two glasses of water prior to a meal then it fills the stomach and can suppress our appetite resulting in us eating less.  Water also increases the rate that the body burns fat and helps with the breakdown and elimination of fat cells.  This is brilliant to keep in mind, to help minimise the excesses of the Christmas season. If our tummy’s are full of water, we are probably less likely to have that extra mince pie, or 7th dip in the tub of Celebrations!

6 – Healthier skin – Capillary blood flow is improved when we are hydrated and this helps with healthier skin. Water also replenishes skin tissue, moisturises skin and improves its elasticity. Brilliant when you want to look your best, at your Christmas do!

7 – Relieves tiredness – When there’s less water in our body then our blood volume drops which means the heart has to work harder to pump oxygenated blood around the bloodstream. We are bound to be tired in December, with the everything that needs doing before the big day! So give yourself a fighting chance and keep hydrated.

8 – Faster recovery from hangovers – Alcohol is a diuretic and makes us go to the toilet more which results in dehydration. Rehydrating helps the body as highlighted above and we recover more quickly. Making sure you are fully hydrated before you start your night out, will reduce the urge to down drinks to quench your thirst. If you also drink water throughout your night and before you go to bed, you are topping up what you have lost throughout the night, hopefully keeping the hangover at bay, the following morning.

9 – Reduction of bad breath – Water keeps our mouth moist which washes away bacteria and food particles, diluting the bacteria compounds that cause bad smells. Perfect if you plan on catching someone under the mistletoe!

10 – Improves mood – Some research suggests that if we’re mildly dehydrated by even 1 or 2 percent then it can negatively affect our mood and our ability to think. December can be stressful as it is, so keeping hydrated improves ou rmood, enabling us to deal with whatever December throws at us!

How Does Water Help Weight Loss?

There are a number of theories out there amongst the scientists, some of which are solidly backed up by the research, others which are more hypothetical.

These seem to be the most likely explanations:

Feeling Fuller – Test meal studies have shown that drinking water prior to and during meals increases satiety and changes in feelings of satiety are associated with a lower overall calorie intake which, in turn, leads to weight loss.

Increasing Metabolic Rate – Water drinking may provide thermogenic increases metabolic rate. A faster metabolism burns more calories.

Mobilising Fat Stores – Water is essential for metabolising stored fat into energy, so much so, that the body’s metabolism could be slowed down by even fairly mild levels of dehydration. The slower your metabolism, the harder it is to lose weight.

Drinking Less Calories – The more water you drink, the less need you have for drinks that contain calories. The fewer calories you consume, the more weight you’ll lose.

Does it always have to be plain old water?

It doesn’t, but make good choices.  Zero calorie soft drinks or cordials are a good way to get hydrated without the additional calories. Fruit juices, smoothies and regular soft drinks are really high in sugar, and therefore calories.

And remember, caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, colas, or alcoholic drinks are actually a diuretic. This means they actually reduce the amount of water in your body, by causing your cells to release more fluid than they should. So if you have a caffeinated drink or an alcoholic drink, make sure you top up your fluids with water or zero calorie drinks.

December Challenge

  • Drink a 750ml sports bottle of cold water, before each main meal of the day
  • Drink water or other calorie-free drinks during meals
  • Replace drinks containing sugar with sugar-free drinks
  • Keep a check on your hydration levels by checking the colour of your wee! What?!? I hear you shout! If you are hydrated, your wee should be the colour of pale straw.

Just focusing on this one thing this month, could see you finish 2019 strong and ready for your next challenge in 2020! Good luck!

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