Are You Drinking Enough Water?
In order to meet your weight loss and fitness goals, it is important to stay hydrated as 60% of the human body is made up of water. So why do you need to drink it? Drinking water will benefit your body in the following ways:
- Helps avoid fluid retention and bloating
- Improves metabolism
- Maintains body temperature
- Allows nutrients to flow freely through the body
- Increases the body’s ability to burn fat…and more!
The average sedentary adult should consume 2.2 to 3.0 liters, which equals about 75 – 101 ounces. This is approximately 9 to 13 cups per day. An athlete who participates in a workout program should drink about 8 additional ounces per 25 pounds of bodyweight (Clark, Lucett & Sutton, 2011). As an athlete, I personally consume a gallon of water a day (128 ounces). I find that, by drinking my water and keeping my body hydrated, I am less likely to get hungry before it is my mealtime. As a rule, I eat five to seven clean, non-processed meals every three hours each day. By keeping my meals on schedule and staying hydrated, I have been able to meet my weight loss and maintenance goals of staying fit.
I have experienced firsthand the effects of not staying hydrated. My husband and I have been seeing a nutritionist for close to four years. When we were visiting her in two-week intervals, we noticed our body fat percentage increased three to four percent on one particular visit. Our workouts and nutrition had remained the same, so we were really confused. Our nutritionist asked if we had been focusing on our water intake. The answer was “no.” It’s easy to get busy during the workday and forget to drink water. She suggested we focus on our water intake for the following two weeks until our next appointment. When we returned, the three to four percent body fat had dropped. We were amazed at the effect water had on our ability to burn fat. Not only did we drop body fat, but our clothes fit us better, we felt stronger in the gym and were happier with our energy levels.
Another benefit of staying hydrated is that you won’t mistake dehydration for hunger. People often reach for snacks because they think they feel hungry when, really, they are thirsty. It’s important to know the difference and recognize what your body needs. As long as maintain a meal frequency of every three hours throughout the day, you will know what time you should eat and are less likely to mistake thirst for hunger. Dehydration can also result in water and sodium retention, decreased blood pressure, decreased ability to sweat, decreased exercise performance, decreased energy, increased heart rate and more. It’s important to keep your body healthy and recognize the signs of dehydration, especially in the summer months.
TIP: I work fulltime and sit behind a desk all day. I keep a gallon of filtered water on my desk and refill my water bottle or cup from that gallon jug throughout the day to help track my water intake. I try to finish three-quarters of that gallon by the end of the workday. That’s when I head to the gym for a sweat session of weights and cardio. My thirst increases during my workout, so I know I will finish the last of my gallon by the time the night is over. It is also important to drink enough water to replace fluids lost in sweat. I keep a gallon jug of water at home to track my water intake on the weekends as well. The weekends are especially tough for me because I am usually running errands or hanging out with friends or family.
Since I started drinking the appropriate amount of water on a consistent basis, I have noticed that I don’t feel my best when I don’t get my water in. I feel irritable and hungry with low energy levels. The body adapts to consistent hydration and performs best when fueled with proper nutrients. Personally, hydration has had a big impact on my ability to meet my own weight loss goals. I hope this article has given you a better understanding of the importance of hydration in everyday life.
Clark, Micheal, Scott Lucett, and Brian G. Sutton, eds. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. 4th ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2011.