Ok, I’ll admit it- that was a fairly ‘Click-baity’ blog title…
But; water intake is such an important topic that I thought I’d use everything in my internet-blogging power to draw you into the subject.
Because honestly? Poor hydration could be a large contributing factor to any struggles with weight loss you may be having.
I’m not suggesting it’s the only factor- diet, exercise and rest obviously all play a role too.
But those factors (diet and exercise especially) get a lot of airtime over the internet, don’t they?
They’re the ‘sexy’ solutions to weight loss; “Follow this celebrity training plan” or “Shreddy-McAbdominal Face FINALLY reveals his diet” could both easily be top responses on Google if you pose the ‘how to lose fat’ question on there.
But water intake? It tends to bring back memories of your mum or the school nurse nagging you to drink more, am I right?
So- before I explain how to get into the ‘more-water’ crew, and why it’ll help with your weight loss; let’s delve into the various functions water has within our body (and there are a lot).
Water Function #1 – Transportation
Ever wondered what’s needed for your body to move around all the super-helpful nutrients, hormonal messages, oxygen and waste products?
Well, if you had been wondering- you no longer have to- good old water is largely responsible for such roles, and without adequate intake these functions wouldn’t be able to happen.
Water Function #2 – Regulating Temperature
If you had to chose between getting sweaty to cool down, or panting like a dog, which would you go for?
This (luckily) isn’t a choice we’re faced with- as our clever bodies have figured out the first option is optimal for ensuring we don’t overheat.
Without enough water? We’d badly overheat with even the lightest of exercise.
Water Function #3 – Food Digestion
Properly utilising the food you take in wouldn’t work without getting in enough water (and you might, right now, be functioning sub-optimally if you aren’t already hydrated enough!)
Poor nutrient absorption leads to poor health, lower energy levels, and various other issues which don’t contribute to looking fly for your next holiday snaps.
Water Function #4 – Joint Health
Dehydration can lead to low fluid levels within joints; which in turn can lead to your groaning like a 90 year old when you get out of an armchair.
If you want to remain mobile, then it’s a fairly good call to take your hydration seriously
Water Function #5-I-CAN’T-EVEN-COUNT-HOW-MANY-MORE – Countless Internal Functions
The further I got through that list the more it began to dawn on me that we’d be here all day if I listed everything water does for us.
While I’m sure a handful of you were eager to learn about every little function H2O is needed for, a few of you were probably finding your interest waning and muttering something to the effect of “We get it- hydration helps me stay healthy- move on!”…
So with those imaginary readers in mind, I’ll finish off the health risks of dehydration section with the following statistics- before moving onto how increasing water intake can improve fat-loss.
Percentage Of Body Water Lost & Possible Consequences:
0.5% = Increased Strain on the heart
1% = Reduced aerobic endurance
3% = Reduced muscular endurance
5% = Reduced strength, motor skills & muscle cramps
6% = Exhaustion, heatstroke, coma
10% = Death
“So, How Will Increasing Water Help Me Lose Weight?”
I’ve done a lot of talking about the health benefits of adequate hydration- now let’s delve into how that translates to pounds lost.
1) Increased Training Performance
One of the primary factors in losing body fat, increasing muscle, and building a physique you can be proud of, is being able to train hard.
Poor hydration, as we covered in our previous data, hinders your ability to function on a number of physical levels.
Getting to the gym even slightly dehydrated will have a big impact on your training efficiency- for the sake of argument, let’s put it at 20%.
Now imagine the compounding effect of leaving 20% of your results on the table after every single training session you have?
Your progress isn’t defined by a single workout- but it is influenced by the accumulation of good workouts- good hydration gives you every chance of achieving those.
2) Decreased Appetite
Whilst calories in vs calories out isn’t always the only factor in weight loss (as explained within this blog), it is the primary cause of weight loss.
Therefore, anything that helps reduce cravings and the amount of food you’re eating? That’s going to be a great help for getting the number on the scales moving in the right direction.
Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, and as such inadequate hydration can lead to snacking on less than optimal food sources (check out this blog for some healthier snacks if that sounds like you!)
A relatively recent study had two separate control groups follow the same diet over a 3 month period, and monitored fat loss- however one group drank 500mls of water before each meal, and the others went without.
Over the 3 month period the group drinking the water before eating lost nearly twice as much as weight as the non-drinking group .
3) Increased Cognitive Function and Energy
You might be looking at this ‘benefit’ with a slightly bemused look on your face; “How will being more alert help me lose weight?”
Ignoring the increased productivity and mood such heightened mental awareness will supply- it will also serve to curb certain cravings that would be sub-optimal for fat-loss.
Have you ever had a day where you were suffering from a bit of a ‘brain fog’?
A day where you couldn’t quite focus on the task at hand? Or you witty comebacks were always a sentence or two too late?
Oftentimes, this is a symptom of poor hydration (although lack of sleep could contribute too- check out this blog to help offset that risk)
And what do you reckon your body craves when energy levels are low?
Fast forms of energy- namely, sugars and caffeine.
The sugars we probably don’t need to delve into as to how it may negatively impact your fat loss; the sharp rise in blood sugar levels alongside the additional daily calories can set you on a path for overeating and up and down energy levels.
And the caffeine?
In small amounts coffee is great for you- one or two black coffees a day have been proven to elevate metabolic rate and improve exercise performance.
Start having many more than that though and your chronically elevated cortisol levels will begin to negatively impact your health and fat-loss journey.
So, How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?
If we’re getting precise?
At least one litre per 25 kilos of bodyweight.
So the average 85KG individual would need just north of 3 litres a day.
This doesn’t take into account extra water being excreted via sweat or other factors- so if you’re exercising or in a hot climate it’s recommended you increase your intake accordingly.
And how can you make sure you’re getting that much water in?
The trick is to sip throughout the day- getting to 5pm and realizing you’ve neglected to hydrate, then downing 3 litres in one go, will result in the majority of the ingested liquid going straight through you.
Ideally, buy yourself a 500ml or above BPA-free plastic or glass bottle and carry it around– making sure you sip from it throughout the day and fill it up the appropriate amount of times to hit your target consumption level.
Once your hydration is under control, your training, nutrition and sleep should all be much improved.
Remember- it’s the accumulation of multiple small habits that result in long-term change; so buy yourself a water bottle, and get started with the optimal hydration habit today.
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 (Silver Spring). 2010 Feb;18(2):300-7.
Thirst is frequently confused with hunger, and hunger pangs (as your body is interpreting your need for liquids) often leads to specific cravings (usually for the poor food choices).
Tailored nutritional advice is part of all our programmes here at Luke Bremner Fitness so you can avoid the confusion of what, when and how much to eat and drink.
To find our more about our nutrition coaching, programmes and how we can help you achieve your goals, you can book in for your complimentary consultation.