Drinking plenty of water has been a vital part of the doctor’s orders since the beginning of time. Water not only keeps us hydrated and you know, alive, but also ensures that all our organs function properly. But what many may not know is how crucial water is to any weight loss or fitness journey. Water has a way of flushing out a number of detrimental toxins as well as excess weight. Let’s take a closer look at what this magic fluid can really do for you in your quest for physical transformation.
Kidney function relies heavily on an adequate amount of water in the body. Our kidneys are basically biological trash compactors, sifting through about 200 quarts of blood in a day, according to WebMD. The excess waste is filtered out and excreted in urine, waste that compiles from the food we eat. If we don’t consume enough water, the kidney’s have a harder time sorting out all the toxic fluids and they end up doing damage to the body. Sodium, phosphorus and potassium are necessary for bodily processes, but the kidneys make sure we don’t have too much or too little. Water also keeps our blood vessels open and circulating, so that the kidneys can receive the fluids they need to function.
Now that we have all the scientific stuff out of the way, we can get into the exciting journey of weight loss. Eating unhealthy junk food causes our body to retain water. When you eat a meal high in sodium, your body holds onto more water to dilute the sodium ratio, orders sent directly from the kidneys. This is what causes a feeling of being “bloated” or carrying excess “water weight”. This is a temporary dilemma, but you can speed up the process by drinking more water. It sounds contradictory, but if your body thinks there is a shortage of water, it will hoard it wherever it can, whether that’s in the circulatory system or within tissues and cavities, according to Healthline. So if you consume a bunch of water, your body feels safe letting go of the extra fluids stored elsewhere.
Water is a key component of weight loss because it affects the organs that are responsible for burning stored fat. Like I mentioned, a lack of water slows down the kidneys, which in turn makes the liver pick up the excess slack. The liver burns up excess fat for energy so if it’s too busy helping out the kidneys, fat isn’t being burned as fast, according to BodyBuilding.com. Getting in shape usually means you’re bumping up protein in your diet, and protein demands a lot of water for digestion. You can’t build muscle without protein synthesis so maximizing that process by drinking plenty of water can only help you reach your goals.
Studies have shown that drinking more water can also speed up your metabolism. In as little of 10 minutes, a glass of water will speed up caloric consumption, with more of the food you’ve consumed being burned up every minute. Your energy expenditure can be increased more than 30 percent for an entire hour after drinking that glass.
Losing weight means calorie restriction and calorie restriction can lead to an increase in hunger until your body adjusts to your new diet. While water should never replace adequate food intake, it can help you feel full in those in-between snack times your used to. A sufficient amount of water can stretch the stomach enough to send “full” signals to the brain, according to Healthline. Keeping those food cravings under control helps you drop the pounds and get closer to your dream figure.
If vitamins and supplements are part of your health regimen, you have even more reason to drink tons of water. Many vitamins are water soluble and cannot be properly absorbed without it. If your water deficient, even more of these substances will be excreted in urine and you won’t get the maximum benefits. Certain supplements work hand in hand with water as well. Creatine, for instance, works by pulling water from the bloodstream and pumping it into the muscles, creating an enhanced environment for muscle to grow, according to BodyBuilding.com.
Figuring out just how much water your body needs can be a trial and error process. The usual recommendation is 6 to 8 glasses a day, but that may be a bit generic for some of us, especially if your pursuing a more active lifestyle. Bodybuilding experts recommend half a gallon to a gallon a day, two gallons if you’re up for it. We’ve all heard the saying, “if you’re thirsty, that means you’re already dehydrated”. This is actually a myth and feelings of thirst can be the best indicator for how much water your body needs, and the times it needs it the most. Another indicator that you’re not drinking enough, is the always appetizing, urine color. The “Armstrong Chart” shows a range of 8 urine hues from clear to an almost green, dark yellow. If the color of your urine is in the 1-3 range, you’re properly hydrated. Any darker, and you might want to increase your consumption a bit. Overall, the clearer the better.
A more severe physical manifestation of dehydration is a headache. No matter the other factors, if I feel even the most subtle headache coming on, my first solution is to chug some water. And it resolves the pain completely more often than not. Like I mentioned, lack of water can narrow the blood vessels, which circulate all over the brain and head as a whole. Narrowed blood vessels cause more pressure in the skull and result in these pesky headaches.
It may not be as appealing as your favorite soda or a hot cup of coffee, but finding time to drink more water makes your fitness aspirations even more possible. Just like you don’t have to be in the mood to get to the gym, you don’t have to be thirsty to hydrate. Make a positive habit of bringing a bottle of water wherever you go and before you know it, it will become second nature. Along with a consistent fitness and eating routine, a little more water can go a long way.
Take it from me
One of the first things I bought when I decided to get healthy, along with some new gym clothes, was a gigantic water bottle. I knew I wanted to aim for a gallon a day, but drinking a dozen Dasani bottles seemed tedious. For me, the bigger the container, the less of them I would have to drink total. I found one that was a little less than half a gallon, and I just gave myself little time deadlines to finish the thing and refill.
I brought that bottle everywhere and still do to this day. To meet my gallon goal, I drank one full bottle at work, one at the gym and at least another half of one before bed. It wasn’t about being thirsty, it was about committing to a regimen. I don’t remember the last time I was legitimately thirsty, but it stopped being about want, and more about need. It was a necessary piece of body’s overall puzzle, so I chugged anytime I had a free moment.
You’ll quickly notice that you’re trips to the bathroom become much more frequent, which while annoying, started to feel like an accomplishment. My metabolism was speeding up and filtering toxins faster than before. It may seem like a common sense kind of change, but it has me feeling healthier and more motivated than ever.