Nutrition Habit #2: Drink More Water
Did you know that 50-70% of our total body weight is water? The brain is composed of 70 percent water, lungs are nearly 90 percent water and our blood is about 83 percent water, which helps digest our food, transport and eliminate waste and toxins, mobilize fat, and control body temperature. Think of it this way, every tissue cell, organ and system is comprised of water and functions optimally only in the presence of adequate water levels. So even fat loss will not occur at an optimal rate if you are in a dehydrated state. Plus water helps to suppress our appetite.
Water is our life force, in fact, we could only go a few days without water before our body would start to deteriorate and die. According to the American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, the average adult loses about two and a half quarts or about 10 cups of water daily through urine and sweat. Just cover your entire arm with a plastic bag and within a few minutes you’ll get a very visual display of how much water we lose in a day. Think of the good old-fashioned sweat suits designed to make you sweat and lose weight. Yeah, you lost weight but it wasn’t fat weight, it was very valuable water weight!
To maintain your body’s fluid balance, you need to replace at least the 10 cups of water (80 ounces) everyday. This amount needs to be increased in hot weather conditions or for those who exercise who may lose up to a liter per hour during a workout. Plus, as we age, there is a general loss of water in all tissues – it’s like the plum to prune effect! Wouldn't you prefer to be a healthy, hydrated plum rather than a dried up, old prune?!
But, unfortunately most people exist on a daily basis in a dehydrated state. In fact common complaints like headaches, lack of energy, feeling tired and lethargic, being prone to sickness and injury, kidney stones, constipation and achy joints and muscles have been associated with dehydration. If most people would commit to drinking 10 glasses of pure water every day they would notice a great improvement in their overall health, body composition and energy levels.
Keep in mind though, we obtain water in our diets from drinks, either plain water or as part of other beverages and from solid foods, especially fruits and vegetables. So we encourage clients to get at least 80 ounces (10-8 ounce or 5-16 ounce glasses) of pure water and see how their body responds. Any other additional fluids you consume in the form of juice, milk, or herbal teas will be a bonus.
In the beginning, your body and its tissues are not used to this higher level of fluid and so they will initially just flush it out. And yes, you will be spending a great deal of time in the restroom but it won’t last long. Eventually, your need to run to the washroom all day should decrease. Your body will soon adapt to your hydrated state. You thirst mechanism will also become more efficient and you’ll find that the more you drink, the more thirsty you become. That’s a great sign!
Most people know they should be drinking more water but they don’t. We’ve found it’s not in the knowing, it’s in the doing! You’ll have to take some action steps to help you adhere to this goal. For example, purchase a water cooler for home and work so you always have cold, refreshing water available. Be sure to drink some water every time you pass the cooler. You can also purchase an 80 ounce water bottle from many grocery and department stores so you can fill up your bottle in the morning and make it a goal to finish the whole thing before you go to bed. This works great for a lot of people. Have your bottle with you wherever you go. If you don’t like the big water jug idea, drink a 16 ounce glass of water first thing in the morning and then 20 minutes before each meal and snack. You’ll easily hit 80 ounces. Many athletes use what’s called a ‘Camel-Back’, a water sac that hooks on like a back pack with a water-hose that allows you to drink easily and continuously throughout workouts. This is a great way to replenish all those extra fluids during tough workouts. During workouts, you should strive to drink 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes. Note: During long bouts of intense exercise (2 hours or more), you can drink TOO much water! It's best to use a sports drink instead of just plain water, as this will help replace sodium and electrolytes lost in sweat and reduce the chances of developing hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening!
Take my word for it – water is important to your overall health. I hope this clarifies and provides better insight to the importance of water in your diet and weight loss.
Yours in health and fitness,