The importance of water cannot be overstated: human beings are 45-65% water, which makes it essential for life, and as such it plays a huge part in most vital processes. Without water, your body enters a state of dehydration, which makes you feel sluggish and can be dangerous to your health. Conversely, its consumption has a great deal of benefits, from radiant skin to better mental performance.
One of these many benefits is promoting weight loss; there are a number of ways in which water can aid with this, the most evident being its capacity to make you feel fuller, and through other mechanisms that are not as obvious, such as its thermogenic effects. Because of this, pretty much all diets recommend that you drink plenty of water.
By virtue of its basic nature, water is a calorie-free nutrient that can be very filling due to its high volume. Oftentimes a slight level of dehydration creates a feeling that is easily confused with hunger, so drinking water when you feel somewhat hungry will have you covered in this sense and reduce unnecessary snacking and excess eating during meals.
Moreover, as it was previously mentioned, drinking too little water can make you feel lethargic; increasing your water consumption can therefore leave you feeling more energetic and therefore increase the effectiveness of your workouts. Adding a dash of citrus to your drink (like a slice or two of lemon) will also help boost your energy.
A study has shown that energy expenditure is raised by 30% within the first hour after having consumed 500 ml of water (the equivalent of about two 8-oz glasses). This is explained partly by the amount of energy required to bring the water from room temperature to the body’s internal temperature.
Another small but powerful element when it comes to dieting is the creation of associations that act as reminders for staying on track ‒ which can be as simple as sipping a glass of cold lemon water. This subconsciously sets your attention on healthy options.
Given all of this, it’s recommended that you drink about eight 8-oz glasses of water a day, but you may need extra water if you’re in a hot climate, have an active lifestyle, are pregnant or have an illness like the flu; drinking diuretic substances such as caffeine or alcohol also increases your requirements in order to make up for the water loss.
Remember that you can also drink simple carbonated water or fruit-infused water if you’re not a fan of the regular version, and also keep in mind that water-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, and beverages like milk or tea count towards your water intake as well.
All in all, pay attention to your body, and notice how you feel when you’re well-hydrated versus when you’re not; the difference might surprise you. Drinking a good amount of water is a pretty small action with a very large reward.
Dr. Patricia M.D.