Overweight and obesity are common health problems worldwide. Food plans that work – those that help people lose weight and help them keep the weight off – embody only a few simple principles. These weight loss secrets include eating five or six small meals each day, combining protein and carbohydrates at each small meal (food combining), eating at least five portions of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, and drinking plenty of water.1,2
Water is essential to human life. In fact, our bodies are composed of about 70% water. All our biochemical reactions take place in a watery environment. Therefore, drinking plenty of water is a critical part of any healthy food plan. Actually, drinking enough water is the most important nutritional advice anyone can give to anybody.
So drinking enough water every day would seem to be a no-brainer. But hardly anyone does it. And the simple fact is that if you’re not drinking enough water your internal environment is toxic. That’s right – toxic.
Water helps flush away waste products of metabolic activities. Not enough water means that waste products accumulate, irritating nerve endings and interfering with normal physiology. Bottom line – your skin breaks out, people start to offer you Tic-Tacs, you become irregular, you develop allergies and asthma, you don’t sleep well or need extra sleep to feel rested, you are irritable and nervous, and you start having headaches. Any or all of these.
These are real problems, and the list could go on.3 The common solution – drink sufficient water. Once people begin drinking enough, they report that lots of physical problems automatically improve. They sleep better, headaches go away or are less troublesome, their skin clears up, allergies improve, and their digestive systems function more normally. All this from just taking the time to drink more water. Pretty amazing.
In terms of weight loss, drinking enough water helps support your exercise program and helps support healthy nutrition. If you don’t drink enough water, you won’t be able to build the new fat-burning muscle cells you’re hoping to build with exercise. If you don’t drink enough water, you won’t be able to properly metabolize carbohydrates. Instead of being used for energy, these carbs will be stored as fat. Drinking enough water helps ensure you get the weight-loss results you want to get.
How much water is enough? Recommendations range from six to eight to ten glasses per day. However, there is such a thing as water toxicity. You don’t want to overload an unprepared system. If you’re used to drinking no water, which is true for many people, start by drinking two or three glasses in a day. Get used to that for a week, and then drink four glasses a day for a week, and build up to six or so glasses a day.
A very good rule of thumb is this – if you’re thirsty, it’s already too late. Hikers know this. If you’re hiking and you become thirsty, you’re on your way to feeling light-headed and getting a headache. All of a sudden you lose your footing or take a wrong turn and get lost.
Hikers know they need to drink water throughout the hike to stay alert and keep their mind sharp. So hikers continually take small sips of water, all along the way.
We want to do the same – drink water throughout the day.1Daniels MC, Popkin BM: Impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review. Nutr Rev 68(9):505-521, 20102Dennis EA, et al: Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity (Silver Spring) 18(2):300-307, 20103Roussel R, et al: Low water intake and risk for new-onset hyperglycemia. Diabetes Care 34(12):2551-2554, 2011