I’ve heard many people saying that if you drink more water, you can lose weight faster. Some attribute this to feeling full and others to being able to flush out fat. Now, one is likely and the other is complete nonsense. There are other explanations besides those two, but I just wanted to give the extremes first. So, does water help you to lose weight in some way or the other, or is it just another form of broscience. Let’s look into it, and also, the general benefits of drinking water.
Fat Loss First things first. This is the one everyone wants to talk about. Water does not metabolize fat nor can it flush out fat. It can prevent dehydration and help you to feel full (if you actually drink it). One study had participants drinking 500 ml of water before all their meals over a 12 week period. The result was, that on average, the water drinking group lost about 9 lbs .So, try drinking a glass or two 30 mins before a meal. It should make you want to eat less and in that way, it can help with fat loss. Now, it is not a magic potion, it won’t stop the effects of a bad diet and inactivity, but it can help. There are other compelling reasons to drink more water besides quenching your thirst, as well as other myths to bust. So my dear health aficionados, read on…
Increases metabolic rate Yes, I know, I could have included this as part of the previous section. I thought I would dispel the fat loss myth first and then go down the list. Studies were conducted on whether water could increase metabolic rate. Now, the results indicated that ingesting 1.5 l of water a day would lead to a 5 lb loss in a year . Most of the metabolic increase, came from the body heating up the water. Before you get too excited, we’re talking only 5 lbs in a year. This is 0.4 lbs per month. So there you go for water and weight loss. But, hold on, don’t go away just yet. As I said earlier there are other reasons why you might want to make sure you stay well hydrated throughout the day. Do continue reading…
Water and cognitive function A 1-2 % dehydration (calculated based on body mass) can lead to headaches, reduction in alertness and overall tiredness [3, 4, 5]. In several studies, the effects of dehydration was based subjectively on participants opinions. But, I suspect this would be the case for most people. Think back to when you were performing some routine task and felt dehydrated. How much more alert and efficient were you after you consumed some water? Now, you lose water in many ways and it’s important to replace lost fluids for optimum efficiency. Aside from exercise, throughout the day water is lost through urine and sweat (just from moving around). So pay attention to your needs as you go along.
Helps with constipation Sure it does. Studies have shown that increasing water intake along with fiber helps prevent constipation [6, 7, 8]. This includes drinking carbonated water. The reason why carbonated water works, more so than regular water is not clearly understood. So, if ever you find yourself in jam, so to speak, try some carbonated water and see if it does the trick for you. Notice, I said carbonated water and not carbonated beverage. Besides, you should stay away from soda and other sugary drinks.
Lowers risk of bladder and urinary tract cancers Some studies have demonstrated that an increase in fluid/water intake leads to reduction in bladder cancer [9, 10, 11]. The reason for this is not clearly understood. It is believed that water and fluids in general prevents contact of carcinogenic substances with the bladder and urinary tract. This is done by diluting the substances and increasing the frequency of urination, which helps to rid the body of such substances regularly, thereby limiting exposure.
Healthy Skin Well, you’re not going to like this one. There is evidence that dehydration and drinking too little water is bad for the skin and results in loss of elasticity. However,
drinking extra water does not result in smoother wrinkle free skin. I should say more accurately, at least there is no evidence for it. You’d be hard pressed to find any studies on the subject . Factors such as sun exposure, smoking, diet and genetics have a big impact on skin health and account for most issues, but not drinking extra water. It may or may not be true. But there is no scientific proof of it. So we’ll leave this one open for now. But, eating foods rich in vitamins A, B, C and E will help retain skin elasticity and protect the skin from age related damage. So you should still keep hydrated, just don’t feel like you have to go to any extremes and eat foods that contains lots of vitamins.
How much water should I drink? The recommended amount is eight 16 oz glasses of water a day. This is believed to have come from the Food and Nutrition board report back in 1945. The report stated that adults needed about 2.5 L of water a day. This works out to be about 8 glasses. Now, the rest of the report says that water can come from the foods we eat also. So you don’t necessarily have to drink eight whole glasses of water. In general your needs will vary depending on your activity. If you’re working out in the gym or elsewhere obviously you will need more than normal. A good rule of thumb, is to check the color of your urine. Your urine should be straw colored (pale yellow) to colorless. More than that and you need to hydrate.
Summary So, I digressed a little in this post. We started looking at water consumption and fat loss and ended up investigating benefits of drinking water and busting some myths along the way. Drinking water at least 30 mins before meals helps you to feel full and this can lead to lower calorie consumption. In this sense it can be an aid in the fight to lose weight. Water helps with performance of daily activities and is useful for getting rid of toxins. An interesting find was that carbonated water aids in relieving constipation more so than regular water. There are many reasons to stay hydrated. Remember, everyones needs are different and you should not have to force yourself yourself to drink 8 glasses. Of course, if you’re working out, your requirements will go up. As a rule of thumb your urine should be pale yellow or straw colored, to colorless. So drink accordingly. Water from fruits, vegetables and other foods also contributes to our daily requirements. So, keep hydrated my friend.