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What’s all the fuss about water?
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.
But why are we always told that we should drink more water, to improve our health and more importantly at Be Strong, if we want to lose weight?
Benefits of drinking water
There are lots of proven benefits of drinking water, it really is the elixir or life.
Staying hydrated gives a number of generic health (and beauty) benefits as well as some more specific benefits when we are trying to achieve weight loss.
Health benefits of being hydrated
1 – Water flushes out toxins – Water flushes out toxins in our body through sweat and urine. It also helps our kidneys and reduces kidney stones by diluting salts and materials in our urine that cause stones.
2 – Great for exercise – 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 more 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.
5 – 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.
6 – 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.
7 – 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 to recover more quickly. Making sure you are fully hydrated before you start drinking alcohol, 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, hopefully keeping the hangover at bay, the following morning.
8 – Reduction of bad breath – Water keeps our mouth moist which washes away bacteria and food particles, diluting the bacteria compounds that cause bad smells.
9 – 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.
So what about water and weight loss?
Every diet club you have ever been to, every article you have ever read about weight loss, water is always mentioned but never explained. So below are the 4 scientific reasons why drinking water is a sure fire way to boost your weight loss.
- 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 and colas, can be a diuretic, so will make you release more fluids from your cells, so whilst you can count these drinks as hydration, caffeine free options are better.
Make hydration a habit
When you first start to up your hydration, it can seem like hard work, but we recommend stacking the act of drinking onto another established routine.
Here are some examples:
- Leave a glass of water by your bed, and drink it as soon as you wake up
- Carry a refillable water bottle with you
- Take a bottle of water in the car with you
- Drink a glass of water before and during every meal
- Feel hungry? Try drinking a glass of water first, you might just be thirsty
- Drink a glass of water every time you put the kettle on
- Drink a bottle of water when exercising
- Always ask for tap water when eating out
- Check your wee, if it’s dark, drink a glass of water
Making sure we are hydrated is just about the simplest thing that we can do to help us on our way with our lifestyle change and more specifically weight loss. The only down side is that we might need to pay a visit to the loo a bit more frequently, but that will improve as we get used to it.
Try upping your water intake this week, and see if it brings any of the benefits we mention above. If you are interested in making it a habit, make a promise to drink 8 glasses of water a day, for 6 out of 7 days this week.
Track your progress in the Water Tracker, and see if you can improve day on day, until drinking water is just part of your routine.