Several studies suggest that many people mistake the sensation of thirst for hunger, which means that for many people drinking more water will alleviate hunger, which leads to less food consumption and in turn to loss of weight.
But it’s not just filling up your tummy with water that drives your hunger away. In fact there are a few mechanisms in play here:
Reducing calorie intake: the more water you drink the less likely you are to drink other type of drinks such as juices, soft drinks and energy drinks. Hence consuming less sugar calories and lessening cravings.
Reducing appetite: drinking water before a meal seems to curb your appetite (this not necessarily works on kids though). And the less food you consume, the more weight you lose.
Increasing resting-energy ‘spending’: Drinking more water increases your metabolism, which is (at least in theory) increasing calorie burning.
So what’s the correct amount of water, I sense you’re asking.
Well, there’s the generic recommendation to drink 2 litters of water per day, but I cannot really find any scientific data to back this up. I find it to be individual and depending on age, size, gender, ambient temperature, level of activity and more. I, for example, drink between 3 and 6 litters a day (depending on temperature and level of activity). Whilst at the gym for 1 hour I usually finish a 1.5 litter bottle of water. But like I said, this is individual. But at the same time, most people I treat don’t drink enough and this is evident from your blood tests and appearance of their skin, hair etc. Basically, I recommend to everyone to increase their water intake and if they want to lose weight, even more so.
The following will help you ensure you’re drinking enough:
If you’re drinking enough the colour of your urine will be light yellow. If you’re not drinking enough your kidneys will retain fluid (in order to conserve body functions) and your urine will turn darker. Note that if you’re taking vitamin B2 or a multi-vitamin that contains B2 the riboflavin will turn your urine bright yellow, which makes it harder to judge your water requirements based on the colour of your urine.
When you’re feeling thirsty, your body is likely to already be slightly dehydrated. Thirst reflex
tend to be underdeveloped in kids and can be somewhat compromised in older adults. A good rule of thumb indicator is that if your mouth is dry you need to replenish your liquids. Just to emphasise how important hydration is, athletes’ performance can be reduced by as much as 10% due to a mere 2% dehydration level.
If you’re low on urine or have not been for several hours chances are you need to drink more water.
Other tell-tale signs of low water intake include, kidney stones, fatigue, dizziness, mood swings, muscular cramps, headaches, constipation, dry skin, back and joint ache and more.
On the other hand, drinking too much water can also have its own risks. For example, excessive amounts of water can cause sodium levels to drop dangerously, causing hyponatremia (a condition where body cells get waterlogged and swell up. This is especially dangerous for your brain cell).
Although it might seem to you that I’ve been slightly digressing, I thought it was important to drive the issue of dehydration home. Back to water and weight management…
I always recommend to dump sugary drinks (including soft drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks etc.) in favour of water. This is especially true of drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup (GFCS) which has been shown to have terrible metabolic consequences, causing weight gain, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and other conditions you’d better avoid getting.
I would like to emphasise that fruit juice is not a healthier option to soft drinks. It’s just as bad and sometimes even worse.
Many commercial drinks also contain diuretics such as caffeine, which will only dehydrate you more. So if you're thirsty, don't reach for a caffeinated drink.
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