Our bodies need water to perform well. Most of us do not drink enough water each day. Thus, we likely suffer from mild dehydration. Inadequate water intake has a surprise impact to dieters. If you are trying to lose weight but fail to drink adequate water, you can find yourself on a plateau. You know what I mean is that you follow your diet, but the scales don’t reflect a loss.
If you are trying to lose weight, then water is your friend. It is also necessary for the body’s biochemical processes and is especially important for us when we diet to lose weight.
The body converts the stored fat into energy. Dehydration, the lack of water, can cause a slow-down in the metabolism. The slower the metabolism, the slower the weight loss. Without adequate water, the weight loss will slow down or completely stop. We call that reaching a plateau – we continue to diet, but the scales do not move.
Did you know that water is a natural appetite suppressant? There is a region of the brain which controls the appetites and cravings. There is also a region that controls the hunger and thirst. These control centers are next to each other, and they may overlap just a bit.
This overlap can be advantageous and disadvantageous for the dieter. Even mild dehydration can confuse these mechanisms. This causes the feeling of hunger, not thirst. So, we rush out and find something to satisfy that hunger signal. On the other hand, instead of going for food, if we first try to satisfy that hunger with water, we will reduce the signal for food.
There has been a study, conducted by the University of Washington, that showed drinking a glass of water at night reduced the hunger signals that most of us have. Personally, I have found this to be a wonderful help to losing weight.
Another thing is that muscles need water to contract. Thus, water helps to maintain muscle tone, which helps us to get that better looking body that we are aiming for.
Don’t overlook the fact that water hydrates the skin thereby helping that sagging skin look alive again. Plus, water serves to prevent some of the saggy skin that accompany weight loss. In a word, water plumps the skin cells, resulting in a skin that looks moist, younger, and healthier.
Another reason for drinking lots of water is that helps the body get rid of waste material. When we diet, our body is busily trying to rid itself of the excess fat. It needs more water to do that.
Lack of water is one reason for constipation. When the body needs water, it takes it where it finds it, and often that happens to be the colon. Siphoning off the water from the colon leads to constipation. Once the body is re-hydrated, normal bowel function returns.
Aside from the weight loss plateau, dehydration is blamed for number health problems, such as: –
We may have headaches, or feel light-headed, woozy.
– Fatigue. Daytime fatigue can be caused by lack of water and the slowed metabolism.
– Being hungry. When the thirst mechanism is weakened, we begin to feel hungry.
– Fluid retention. When the body senses the need for water, and none comes, it begins to hold on to what it has. Thus, we find ourselves retaining fluid.
– Constipation. Inadequate water in the body causes it to look for the water it needs, siphoning it from wherever it finds it. That can result in constipation. Again, when the water supply is increased, constipation goes away.
That brings us to the question: how much water is enough? How much should we consume each day6 to be healthy?
Before the answer to these questions, let’s address a couple of basic principles.
1) Check the urine color. When we drink enough water, our urine will be very pale yellow (some supplements and meds may affect the color of the urine).
2) Take water regularly. Make a habit of drinking water regularly and in adequate amounts. If you are thirsty, dehydration has begun.
Back to the question of how much water is enough. The person whose weight is normal, and whose lifestyle is sedentary (which includes too many of us) is considered to be 64 ounces a day. That is eight, eight-ounce glasses each day. Going from a very little water to 64 ounces is not usually done quickly, but by increasing the amount each day, you will reach your goal faster than you think.
Athletes always look for ways to enhance their performance, and many of them try to maintain an optimal fluid balance when exercising. The athletes try to take in six to twelve ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes. Whether or not you are an athlete where performance counts, you should try to consume additional water when exercising so that the body remains properly hydrated.
Excess weight creates extra metabolic demand. Therefore, for every 25 pounds of your normal, healthy weight, you should consume an additional eight-ounce glass of water.
For those of us who do not drink enough water, the question becomes how you can drink so much water. Some experts recommend drinking three glasses of water with each meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Remember to increase the water if you are exercising, or when it is hot.
If you recognize the symptom of dehydration we talked about earlier, or if you are having trouble getting the scales to move, be sure you are consuming adequate water. You will be amazed at the results.
Use water, the natural appetite suppressant to your advantage. Join those of us who carry that bottled water to drink while we are running errands, or even shopping. Use water as a late night snack, instead of that sweet cookie or salty crackers. Some of us find that the desire to eat is gone as soon as we drink that water. If drinking water is a bit difficult for you, try adding some lemon juice to each glass. The change may work wonders with your diet.