Quick! Before you read this, grab a bottle, fill a glass, or take a shot. Of water, that is.
You are not just what you eat; you are what you drink. Literally. Water composes more than half of your total body weight. For a woman at or near her ideal body weight weighing 135 pounds, approximately 67 to 80 pounds of that would be from water!
Well, water makes up 75% of all lean body tissue like your skin and muscle, 25% of bone tissue, and 10% of fatty tissue. Humans are unable to sustain life for more than a week without it.
Most of us have been told at least a time or two how important water is and the countless reasons why. And yes, I am one of those people here to tell you again just how important it is, especially if you’d like to lose a few pounds.
Water is necessary for the function of internal organs, normal digestion, nutrient absorption, cushion, and regulation of body temperature and metabolism.
Stay Awake and Stay Happy
There’s a 10% decrease in your mental performance when you feel thirsty. Keeping your body hydrated is proven to act against headaches while improving focus and memory. The more tired and unfocused you are, the more likely you are to succumb to cravings for sweets or high-calorie indulgences.
Drinking a glass of water before your meal can help control your appetite, while drinking water with your meal can make you feel satisfied more quickly, although it can also dilute important digestive enzymes and gastric acid, impeding digestion. Your best bet is to drink water about 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after meals. Water won’t remain in your stomach for very long, so you need to drink it regularly to sustain that feeling of fullness.
Drinking enough water can drastically improve your mood and energy levels. Being just slightly dehydrated can leave you sluggish, irritable, and unable to concentrate. As little as 5% dehydration can diminish your energy level by as much as 25%!
Drinking water can boost your body’s ability to burn fat.
One study found that drinking about 17 ounces of water increases metabolic rate by 30 percent in healthy men and women.
Thirst is often confused for hunger. If you’ve ever had the urge to eat something mid-afternoon when you shouldn’t necessarily be hungry, try drinking 8-16 ounces of water and waiting for 10 minutes. If your urge to eat persists beyond this, reach for a healthy snack. If it doesn’t, you were probably just thirsty.
Water aids digestion and promotes the normal functioning of many body organs including the liver, the organ that metabolizes fat during weight loss. Lack of regular water consumption will slow digestion, decrease fat metabolism and give you feelings of fatigue and bloating. For every 1000 calories you consume, your body needs about 32 ounces of water for digestive purposes alone.
THE LAST OUNCE
The debate continues as to how much water we actually need. According to the Food and Nutrition Board, women should consume at least 91 ounces of fluid daily through both fluids and solid foods, while men should consume at least 125 ounces. For the average woman, that’s about 64 ounces of water alone each day, 100 ounces for the average man. Athletes and active individuals need even more, particularly in hot weather.
Many people don’t drink water simply because they forget or because it’s boring to them. Choose an activity or time of day and make it a point to always drink at that time, like your daily commute to and from work. Try carbonated water if you prefer some fizz. Adding fresh-squeezed lemon or lime wedges can add some flavor and variety, while also aiding digestion, preventing electrolyte imbalances, and promoting liver efficiency.
By Tara L Parr, MPAS, PA-C