One of the most often overlooked aspects of proper nutrition is water. When comes to losing weight, getting stronger, or overall health, drinking enough water is absolutely crucial.
Weight loss plans often place a lot of emphasis on what foods you should and shouldn’t eat. But focusing only on food isn’t the best strategy.
What you drink will have a significant impact on how quickly and easily you lose weight.
Specifically, water plays an important role. Let’s take an in-depth look at the effect water has on weight loss:
The Importance of Water
Water is arguably the single most important element necessary for life. While you can survive about eight weeks without food, you can only live for three to five days without water.
But water does more than just keep you alive. Staying properly hydrated has numerous benefits including:
- Improved skin tone and elasticity
- Reduced muscle fatigue
- Improved kidney function
- Improved bowel function
So how much water should you drink each day? Follow the eight-by-eight rule. Drink an eight-ounce glass of water eight times a day. This works out to about two liters or a half gallon of water each day.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re probably exercising on a regular basis. Workouts require increased water consumption beyond the eight and eight rule. Experts recommend drinking between 15 and 20 ounces of water about an hour before your workout. Then drink another 10 ounces 15 minutes before your workout. During your workout, drink about eight ounces every 15 minutes. (Source)
Here’s a simple trick you can use to stay hydrated. Weigh yourself before your workout. Then weigh yourself after. If your weight after working out is over 2% less than your pre-workout weight, then you’re not drinking enough water during your workout.
How to Know if You’re Dehydrated
Dehydration can sneak up on you. By the time you feel thirsty, your body has already been dehydrated for quite some time. Here are a few signs you need to drink some water ASAP:
- Muscle Cramps
- Dark Urine
- Lack of Sweat
Many symptoms of dehydration are similar to feelings of hunger. A growing stomach, low energy levels and feelings of lightheadedness can simply mean you’re thirsty. If you drink a glass of water whenever you’re hungry, you might be surprised at how often your hunger disappears.
How Water Helps You Lose Weight
Water plays a few important roles in helping with weight loss. First, water can make you feel full. Because water is completely calorie-free, you can drink as much as you like without adding extra calories to your diet. Whenever you have a craving for something to eat, trying drinking a glass of water instead. Even just eight ounces can fill your stomach and stop your hunger.
Water also helps increase body functions. When you’re hydrated, your body will have an easier time flushing out wastes in both urine and sweat. This helps increase your metabolism and overall weight loss.
Looking to kick-start your weight loss? Drink ice cold water. Your body will warm the water internally, which can burn some extra calories. Plus, many people find ice water to be more refreshing than room temperature water. (Source)
Water also helps decrease stress. Staying hydrated keeps your body from producing the stress hormone cortisol. This can be especially helpful if you typically turn to food as a way to deal with nervousness and anxiety. (Source)
How to Get Enough Water
If you’re not used to drinking water, drinking a half gallon a day can be challenging at first. Keep in mind that you might need to make frequent trips to the bathroom. After a few days your body will adjust to the amount of water and you won’t have to urinate as often.
If you’re having difficulty drinking two liters of water each day, here are a few strategies you can try. Don’t worry. Even if you struggle a bit at first, drinking water throughout the day is an easy habit to develop.
First, you’ll want to get a water bottle. If you spend the day in one general location, such as at a desk, a larger 64-ounce bottle might be a good choice. If you’re more mobile during the day, a smaller 16-ounce water bottle might be easier to carry around. Having one water bottle helps you drink more water during the day because you don’t have to hunt around for cups or buy bottled water.
A water tracker is a useful tool to consider. Available online, a tracker creates a graphic illustrating how much water you’re drinking throughout the day. Typically, trackers measure water consumption in eight-ounce intervals. Looking for a free tracker? MedHelp has a free tracker available. You can also find a free water tracker for Android in the Google App store.
Water can taste a little strange if your body isn’t used to it. If you don’t particularly care for the taste of water, consider adding low or no-calorie flavorings. Sparkling water is another option you might want to try.
Finally, remember many foods also have a high water content. Fresh fruits and vegetables often contain lots of water. Plus, they also help with weight loss. Clear soups and broths are other excellent options. Just be aware of creamy soups, which can be very calorie-dense.
Water is often overlooked. But drinking water throughout the day can significantly increase weight loss. Just eight glasses of water a day will help you shed those pounds.
If you’re not used to drinking a lot of water, the experience can feel a little weird at first. You’ll probably have to go to the restroom quite often during the first week or so. But soon your body will adapt and you’ll feel happier, healthier and thinner.
Our team at The Fitness Tribe often collaborates together to produce content. Many times the content is not written by a single author, instead it is usually a team effort.