75 % of your body is water - in fact, 70-80 % of your brain tissue consists of water. If you're dehydrated, your body and mind are stressed.
Every chemical reaction that takes place in the body needs water - basically, your cells need water to function properly. By drinking water I mean drinking pure water; not coffee, beer, coke, juice or other sugary fluids.
If you wait until you're thirsty, your body is already a little dehydrated. Symptoms of dehydration may include dry skin, loss of skin elasticity, increased wrinkles, dry eyes, thrist, tiredness, dry mouth, headache, constipation, dizziness or lightheadedness. Severe dehydration may result in low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, confusion and fever.
Water affects your health extensively. Your body needs water to recover from injuries and diseases, to detox (cleanse the body of contaminants), and to improve digestion. Decent hydration will boost your energy levels, increase your mental sharpness and help boost your immune system. Drinking water helps you build muscle tone (helps muscles to contract better), decreases muscle cramps and lubricates joints. Best of all, water may help you lose those extra pounds you've been trying to shed.
According to a study (Davy et al. 2010) drinking water before a meal has been proved to aid weight loss. The study states that drinking two (2,5 dl) glasses of water before every meal affected the participants' eating habits - in fact, the participants ate in average between 75 and 90 fever calories during the meal. The participants were successful in keeping the weight loss even 12 months after the study. Basically, water makes people feel satisfied and keep hunger off, at least in the older population.
How much water is enough? That's a tough question, since a person's need of water depends on age, body size, physical activity and weather. An average adult needs at least two litres of water a day. You'll need a lot more water if you're physically active, spend a lot of time in a dry environment (for instance, if your home or office has an effective airconditioning system) or if your environment is very warm and you sweat a lot. Keep a glass of water or a bottle nearby to remind you to stay hydrated. When in doubt, drink a little more. ;)
Drinking much water won't give you a bloated body - water retention is caused by eating too much salt, not by drinking much water. In fact, drinking water helps you get rid of feeling bloated, since it flushes the body.
I'm not saying that water is a magic potion, but it can aid you in losing weight. Water makes you feel fuller and revs up your metabolism. Acccording to some sources drinking ice cold water makes you burn even more calories, since your body has to warm it up - but seriously, you'd have to drink a lot of icy water to lose weight solely on that method. A study showed that drinking approximately 5 dl of near-freezing water only burned approximately 4 kcal. Your diet makes a bigger difference to shedding fat.
Remember, that there's also a possibility to drinking too much water (water intoxication). Water intoxication is not easy to achieve, trust me. Obsessive-compulsive water drinking or an extended athletic activity, where the athlete drinks a lot of water, may cause water intoxication. This means that electrolytes (especially sodium and potassium) in the blood are diluted to the point that it interferes with brain, heart and muscle function. Athletes tackle theproblem by using sports drinks with minerals to keep their body in balance.
Here's a link to an online water calculator, check it out!
A few tips to drinking water:
- As I said earlier, keep a glass or bottle of water close by at all times, to make sure you remember to hydrate. One tip is to fill a 2l jug of water in the morning and making sure you empty it during the day. I usually fill a 650 ml glass bottle with water three times at work - and I drink a big glass of water with every meal. Think of places you can stash your water bottle (your purse, the car, on your desk at work..)
- Create your own vitamin drink. For example, try one of my smoothies!
- Drink a glass of water with every meal. By sipping water during your meals you'll enjoy your food more and slow your eating.
- Drink herbal teas. Try different infusions and enjoy them after meals - you'll aid your digestion by drinking a warm tea after a heavy meal.
- Try berry- or veggie flavoured waters (see picture below). For example, you could stuff a mason jar with ice cubes, citrus slices and some mint leaves - add water and enjoy.
Picture source 1 2 3
Brown, CM; Dulloo, AG; Montani, JP. Water-induced thermogenesis reconsidered: the effects of osmolality and water temperature on energy expenditure after drinking. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Sep;91(9):3598-602
Dennis, EA; Dengo, AL; Comber DL; Flack, KD; Savla, J; Davy KP; Davy, BM. "Water Consumption Increases Weight Loss During a Hypocaloric Diet Intervention in Middle-aged and Older Adults", Obesity 18 (2): 300–307
Popkin, BM; Barclay, DV; Nielsen, SJ.Water and food consumption patterns of U.S. adults from 1999 to 2001. Obesity 13 (12): 2146–2152