Do you wish that losing weight was as easy as drinking a glass of water? Don’t we all!
Obviously, losing weight isn’t quite as simple as drinking a glass of water, BUT, what I can promise you is that being properly hydrated will make it SO. Much. Easier for you to do the things that you need to do in order to lose weight.
There is a much bigger connection between water and weight loss than people tend to realize.
For that reason, today’s topic is 10 game-changing, need-to-know facts, about water, hydration, DEhydration, and weight loss. So let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
Fact #1: 75% of Americans Are Chronically Dehydrated
What that means is that three out of every four people don’t drink enough water on a daily basis.
So what I want you to ask yourself as I go through these facts today, is whether or not YOU are one of those chronically dehydrated people. (HINT: Odds are, that you are.)
Fact #2: The Human Body Is ~60% Water
So what, why is that important?
It’s important because pretty much every job that your body has to do like get rid of waste, pump blood, deliver oxygen, digest food etc., etc… they all require water.
And if you’re not drinking enough water you’re making it a lot harder on your body than it needs to be, and some things are going to suffer because of that.
That brings us to some of the most common side effects of chronic dehydration.
Fact #3: Dehydration Makes It Hard To Think & Focus
When you haven’t had enough water, your brain can have trouble processing things. Your thoughts may form a little slower and it can be a struggle to focus.
The effect of this on weight loss is that it may become harder for you to make decisions that align with your weight loss goals.
For example, if you’re dehydrated it may be more difficult to decide to stick to your workout, or to choose a healthier food over a less healthy food, even though you know that that’s what you need to do in order to achieve your weight loss goals.
Fact #4: Dehydration Causes Low Energy & Fatigue
Do you often feel sluggish as the day goes on? It could be due to dehydration!
You had a long hard day at work. You were really busy and probably didn’t drink enough water and will probably feel that fatigue when you get home.
That physical fatigue (much like the mental fatigue in #3) also makes it hard for you to make decisions that line up with your weight loss goals.
This fatigue and sluggishness often feels like a “lack of motivation”.
But if you’re not drinking enough water throughout the day, what you’re really experiencing could very well be fatigue caused by dehydration.
Fact #5: Dehydration Causes Muscle Cramps & Achy Joints
Sufficient hydration prevents your muscles from cramping and ensures proper joint lubrication.
What this means is that if you’re dehydrated your body is not going to feel so great when you try to exercise.
Muscle cramps can happen anywhere in the body but seem especially prevalent in the legs and feet when exercising.
The joint pain can already be a bit of an issue if you’re carrying a little extra weight. Usually the feet, knees, and lower back are the problem areas in this case. But if you’re not hydrated your joints will ache even more.
And again, if your joints and muscles hurt due to these side effects of dehydration, it’s going to be really hard for you to follow through with your planned workouts.
Fact #6: Your Body Has Trouble Differentiating Between Hunger & Thirst
This one you may or may not have heard before, and that’s that it is very difficult for your body to tell the difference between thirst and hunger.
Why is that? The reason has to do with the way that your body recognizes satiety (aka feeling “full”). This is actually a really complicated process which we don’t need to go into here, but one of the things that your body looks at to tell if it’s hungry or not is the amount that your stomach has stretched.
Basically, when you eat food, your stomach expands which sends a signal to your brain that you’ve had enough food and can stop eating now.
BUT when you drink water, your stomach senses this stretching and sends the same signal.
So what this all amounts to is that your body has a hard time understanding whether it is thirsty or hungry.
If you are chronically dehydrated, you might often feel snacky in between meals and it may be that you are not actually hungry but that you are really thirsty instead.
This misinterpretation can then sabotage your weight loss goals when you eat food instead of drinking water when that’s what your body really needs.
So if you aren’t sure whether you’re hungry or thirsty, drink a glass of water (8-16 oz.) and then wait 15 to 30 minutes. If you no longer feel hungry, you were probably just thirsty. If you still feel hungry, go ahead and eat something.
Fact #7: Water Is Needed To Break Down Fat
This is one of my favorites on the list which I think most people probably don’t know.
Fact number seven is that water is necessary for the breakdown of fat in your body.
So anytime you eat more calories than you need your body stores it away for later in fat cells. And when you’re trying to lose weight you likely know that you must burn more calories through exercise or activity then you consume.
So when you are burning more calories than you consume the fat stored in your fat cells gets broken down to be used as fuel which is how you lose weight.
But if you are dehydrated the fat breakdown process (called lipolysis) doesn’t work. That is because the first step of lipolysis is called hydrolysis – “hydro” meaning water.
So if you don’t have enough water in your body, you can’t get that fat break down which makes it very hard to lose weight even though you’re putting in that hard work to exercise.
That’s a BIG deal.
Fact #8: Dehydration Slows Down Your Metabolism
What this means is that if you’re not drinking enough water your body isn’t burning as many calories as it could be.
Obviously that’s bad news if you’re trying to lose weight.
But the good news is that the flip-side is also true. If you are drinking enough water, your body will actually burn more calories.
The research says you will burn ~2-3% more calories for the 90 minutes following drinking a glass of water. The research also suggests that that number may be even higher if you are drinking COLD water.
I know, 2-3% doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up pretty quick, especially if you’re drinking the recommended amount of water and spacing it out throughout the day!
Fact #9: Proper Hydration Is Associated With Weight Loss
If you’re not convinced of this already from facts 1-8, scientists have found that proper hydration is associated with weight loss.
People who drink enough water seem to have an easier time losing weight while those that are dehydrated tend to have a harder time losing weight.
And that brings us to the very important question of how much water should you drink – which just so happens to be fact number 10!
Fact #10: Drink 0.5 – 1 Ounce Of Water Per Pound Of Bodyweight
For years and years there’s been this rule floating around which is called the 8×8 rule. This rule states that every person should drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day.
This is a good starting point… but I’m not a big fan of this rule because it’s a one-size-fits-all type of rule.
And if you guys know me, I’m NOT a fan of one-size-fits-all. It doesn’t work for exercise, it doesn’t work for nutrition, and I think we can get a little bit more specific when it comes to our hydration as well.
How much water you need is based on two simple things.
The first is your body size. Somebody that’s bigger is going to need more water while a smaller person is going to need less.
The second is how active you are. If you have an active job and exercise often you’ll need more water than someone with a desk job that doesn’t exercise.
So there’s a simple calculation that you can use to figure out how much water you need to drink, taking into account those two things.
The calculation is that you should drink a half an ounce to an ounce of water per pound of body weight per day.
So let’s just do a quick example: let’s say you weigh 150 pounds to make the math easy.
The calculation for the lower end of the range would be:
150 pounds x 0.5 ounces = 75 ounces/day
The calculation for the higher end of the range would be:
150 pounds x 1 ounce = 150 ounces/day
So that gives you a range 75 – 150 oz if you weigh 150 pounds.
Now go ahead and do the math for your current body weight, and then make adjustments based on your current activity level.
If you aren’t sure where in that range you should be you can always check the color of your urine.
If you are properly hydrated it should be straw colored, if it’s darker than that… you guessed it, drink more water!
I hope by now you can see how important hydration is – always, but even more so if you’re trying to lose weight!
What I would love to hear from you in the comments below is your best trick for drinking enough water.
For me I have a favorite plastic water cup that I take with me everywhere. Is partially my favorite because it’s the Seahawks… but also because it has a straw!
Most people drink more water when they have a straw, and I definitely find that to be true for me!
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