Something so simple as drinking our recommended amount of water each day can add tremendous benefits to our health and weight loss journey. They all agree, 8-10 glasses of water a day, but why? We lose weight, look younger, function better, think clearer and detox.
I added 8 glasses of water for a week to my diet and had astounding results, but as soon as the week was over, I slowly went back to my water less ways. Knowing some of the benefits and advantages to drinking water for health and weight loss has helped motivate me to make it a permanent habit.
How does water help you lose weight?
Let’s start with what we really want to know. 😉
1. Water Removes Thirsty Hunger
When dehydrated, we feel thirsty or hungry. The body pulls water from food so it often sends a hunger signal instead of a thirsty one. This hunger signal is completely eliminated when the body is hydrated.
2. Water Suppresses the Appetite
When we drink water before a meal, it helps fill our stomach. This signals the brain and makes us feel full sooner.
3. Water Eliminates Liquid Calories
Green tea and warm cocoa were my favorite drinks during the day, but when drinking 8 glasses of water regularly, the idea of trying to drink tea or cocoa as well was unpleasant. The desire for those drinks went away. Imagine if water helped eliminate calories from your favorite caloric beverage.
4. Water Flushes Toxins and Waste
Toxins can keep us fat. If the body gets overwhelmed with toxins, it uses fat cells to lock them into storage until it has a chance to deal with them.
Every detox pathway in the body is dependent on water for efficient and quick elimination.
5. Water Satisfies Nutritional Hunger
Have you ever been full, but felt like you needed to keep eating? This could have been nutritional hunger. The result of having enough food, but not enough nutrients. When we drink mineral or spring water we satisfy some of our body’s mineral requirements. Secondly, the more hydrated we are the easier it is to break down foods and for our heart to circulate nutrients to our cells.
6. Water Increases Resting Metabolism
Within 10 minutes of drinking water our resting energy expenditure goes up and we burn more calories for up to an hour afterwards. When that water is cold, the body burns even more calories in heating the water up to body temperature.
7. Water Burns Fat
When we are dehydrated, we can’t burn fat. Water is used in the process of burning fats and carbohydrates: the ones eaten and stored.
8. Water Produces Energy
Energy from food is processed more quickly when we are hydrated. Dehydration causes us to feel fatigued, lowers our mood and inhibits clear thinking. These are all likely conditions to cause poor food choices and make us not want to get up and move.
9. Water Improves Workouts
Hydrated muscles are more energetic, move correctly and are flexible. Sprains are less likely to occur in a hydrated body and muscle cramps won’t slow you down. Hydration lubricates your joints for more shock absorption. Plus, the discs between your vertebrae are filled with water and give more cushion and support to your back causing less pain before, during and after workouts.
10. Water Boosts Our Mood
70-80% of the brain is made up of water. As little as 2% dehydration can cause shrinkage to the brain resulting in headaches, confusion and moodiness. When hydrated we feel happier.
How much water should we drink?
As with most things…it all depends. On average, 6-8 glasses a day for women. Which roughly equals 2 liters or about 1/2 gal.
There are many life circumstances and factors that can cause these amounts to vary.
- Activity levels
- Pregnancy and nursing
- Juicy fruits and veggies
- Processed foods and alcohol
Often times, we rely on our thirst to signal when to drink water, but feeling thirsty is a sign of dehydration. To make matters worse, we often try to satisfy that thirst with beverages that don’t hydrate us.
A better way to hydrate is to set a smaller water intake goal and work up from there. Always checking in on how we feel over the course of the day and week.
The color of urine is also a good indication of hydration. Healthy urine is pale yellow. With darker gold colors indicating dehydration. Clear urine with no color could indicate too much water.
Is drinking a lot of water bad? How much is too much?
First, it’s difficult to drink too much water. Too much water is a liter or more an hour. Second, spreading water intake throughout the day is better than drinking 2 liters of water all in one sitting. Lastly, everything in moderation, as long as we are close to 6-8 cups a day a little more or a little less isn’t going to be harmful.
What if you dislike the taste of water?
Jazzing up water is easy, but beware of adding diuretics that dehydrate. Caffeine from coffee and tea are the most common diuretics that work against hydration. Here is a list of healthful infusions and substitutes:
- Herbal tea (check the herbs’ diuretic effects first)
- Fruit or veggies: lemon, limes, cucumber, watermelon, kiwi, berries…
- Fresh Herbs: Lavender, mint, pineapple sage, lemon balm, basil, rosemary…
- Flavor drops (check the ingredients, they can be full of sugar and/or chemicals). These can also be used to help kick a sugar habit.
- Mineral water is even better than plain water and that fizz helps with soda cravings.
- Soda water. While not as healthy as mineral water, it is hydrating and healthy when used as an occasional treat.
How do we make drinking water a habit?
1. Anchor a New Habit to an Established One.
For example, I anchored my water intake to waking, lunch, dinner and bedtime habits.
Upon waking (so far this is a habit of mine), I drank 16 oz of water that I filled the night before and kept on the nightstand next to the bed.
Then before I made my husband’s coffee, I drank 16 oz. more.
Later in the day, while preparing lunch and dinner, I drank another glass or two.
Finally, giving myself 2 hours before bed, I drank my last 16 oz.
About an hour after dinner, I tend to think of all the different snacks I could eat before bed, but these last two glasses of filled me up, thus banishing cravings and hydrating me for a good night’s sleep.
2. Break the Day Into Four Separate Sections.
Drink 2 cups of water in each quarter.
- Before breakfast
- Breakfast to lunch
- Lunch to dinner
- After dinner
3. Set a Reminder on the Phone.
This works well with breaking the day into quarters.
4. Drink a Glass After Every Bathroom Break.
There is nothing that reminds us about our new water habit more than the constant trips to the bathroom.
5. Track Water Intake.
Using an app on the phone can be easy, but sometimes a paper checklist in the kitchen is just as effective. And who doesn’t like to mark off a checklist?
6. Find the Perfect Water Bottle
Size, shape, insulation, cap, color, material, all these variables can add up to motivation. There are water bottles that have your ounces across from times of the day so it gives a deadline goal to drinking.
7. Start the Day with the Target Amount of Water Already Poured.
This way, as the water goes down, there is a sense of accomplishment and a motivation to keep going until it is all gone.
8. Use a Straw.
There are lots of reusable straws to choose from: stainless steel, glass, rubber, folding and ready-to-go-with-you straws. Sometimes it’s faster and more fun to drink water with a straw.
9. Be Accountable.
Always a motivator. Find a friend who wants to create a healthy habit too. Whether it is drinking water or some other habit. Then decide when to check-in with each other.
10. Treat Yo’ Self.
Lastly, reward a habit well done. This reinforces the habit and helps it stick. Rewards give us a happy feeling. As silly as it might sound, a fist pump, self hug, round of self applause or even a pat on the chest after finishing one cup of water makes us want to keep up the good work.
But don’t stop there! Give rewards at the end of the day (mineral water, favorite show or book), week, month. Looking forward to rewards helps keep us motivated when we might not see immediate results.
Most important is to tweak the routine until it works best for us.
When is the best time to drink water?
- Before, during and after exercise – so the body performs at its highest level.
- At least two hours before bed – deep sleep is important.
- Upon waking – Hydrating after many hours without water, fires up metabolism, wakes up the brain, and flushes toxins the body cleansed during the night.
- Preferably 20 min. before and after meals – Water dilutes stomach acids needed to digest our meals. So while sips here and there are fine, trying to drink 16 oz of water at a meal is counter-productive.
Extra hydrating tips:
- Eat fiber: it keeps water in the digestive tract longer.
- Drink Chia seed water. Add 1 Tbl. Chia seeds to your water bottle, shake and let rest until ready to drink. Absorbing twelve times their weight in water, Chia seeds are a smart way to stay hydrated longer.
- Add a pinch of sea salt. It adds minerals back into filtered water and causes cells to hold water longer. Surprisingly refreshing too!
Water’s like healthy food: the more we consume the more our bodies crave it. After about 3 days, I started noticing a difference in appetite and greater ease in drinking all 8 cups.
Increasing water is probably one of the easiest things we can do for our health. Many widely agreed upon health recommendations are easily ignored. After researching all the benefits of water, I quickly realized that dehydration could be the root cause of my active son’s backaches and periodic headaches.
Have you developed a good hydration habit? Please share your tips with us on how you make it happen and what your results have been. Are you motivated to start a hydration habit? What action steps will you take today to achieve your goal? We grow by connecting. This is a safe place where we encourage and support each other along our journey to health.
Weight loss is a side effect of healthy living which makes healthy ways – shapely ways.
Thank you for being here and chatting with me about all things health! I love and appreciate you more than you know!