Many health sources extol the benefits of drinking water, but what are those benefits, and do they include helping you to lose weight? If you’ve read this blog much, you’ll know that water can be beneficial to weight loss, but how much should you drink and why does it help you lose weight?
First of all, too many people go on a diet, start exercising, or get into watching The Biggest Loser and think the 20 lbs they lost in a week is all fat. Well, it’s not, you probably lost mostly water weight. On most occasions rapid weight loss, especially at the onset of a weight loss program, is nothing more than primarily the effects of dehydration.
Losing water weight is not the reason that most people embark on a weight loss program however, so how can drinking water help you lose weight, as in fat, not just losing the weight of the water your body loses?
Here are some of the ways drinking water helps you lose weight:
Metabolic Increase –
Drinking water can speed up you metabolism, which helps you burn more calories. If you don’t compensate by increasing your caloric intake, you’ll create a calorie deficit, which translates into weight loss over time.
How does that metabolic increase happen, exactly? Well, one of the main mechanisms is through the energy cost associated with heating the water to body temperature. So, you guessed it, the best thing to do is drink really cold water, so your body has to do more work to heat it. That alone can account for about 100 calories per day of added energy usage for every 64oz (about 2 liters) of cold water you drink. Drinking cold water has another benefit in that it increases the water’s absorption rate.
Water helps the liver burn fat –
One of the liver’s main bodily functions is metabolizing stored fat for energy. Wow! That should make the liver your best friend when it comes to weigh loss, right? Well, it should, but too many people (most, in fact) do their best to sabotage their liver’s efforts to burn fat by cheating on the amount of water they drink. When you don’t drink enough water the liver starts to perform one of it’s secondary functions, helping the kidneys remove waste products from your body.
As an aside, that is another reason why drinking too much alcohol helps pack on the pounds. Not only is the alcohol itself caloric, but detoxifying your blood takes precedence over the liver’s other functions, such as metabolizing stored fat. It is also why substituting beer for water is not such a good idea.
Water keeps you from retaining so much water –
As counter intuitive as it may seem, drinking water can actually help you from retaining excess pounds in water weight. When you drink insufficient water, you body keeps a few extra pounds of water around as a “just in case” measure, because it thinks that there may be dry times ahead. Making sure you drink enough water causes the body to get rid of this excess stored water, helping you drop those excess pounds. Sure you’ll be going to the toilet 10 times a day for a little while, but it isn’t it worth it for some permanent weight loss?
Hydration at the cellular level can dramatically effect your metabolism and hormonal function. In fact, a 1996 paper published in the Biochem Journal indicated a German study found that “small fluctuations of cell hydration, i.e. of cell volume, act as a separate and potent signal for cellular metabolism and gene expression.”
Other benefits of drinking the proper amount of pure, clean water include:
Better overall bodily function and efficiency – The above referenced German study also found that proper levels of cellular hydration have a powerful correlation to proper cellular function.
The interaction between cellular hydration and cell function has been most extensively studied in liver cells, but evidence is increasing that regulation of cell function through alterations of cell hydration also occurs in other cell types.
Maximizing muscle growth –
Increasing muscle tissue is much easier with proper hydration. That’s been commonly known in body building and athletic circles for decades. If you’re trying to gain muscle, and you should be if you’re trying to lose fat, this result from the study should interest you:
“The role of cellular hydration as an important determinant of protein turnover sheds new light on the understanding of protein-catabolic states in disease, and it has been hypothesized that cell shrinkage in
skeletal muscle and liver may be the common end-path triggering protein catabolism in a variety of diseases .”
That means insufficient cellular hydration can trigger shrinking of skeletal muscle, a condition which most of us strive to avoid.
Better overall health –
You body is about 70% water and you need to maintain proper hydration levels in order for it to function properly. Water is essential to flush the body of waste products and toxins. Poisons have two main ways out of the body, by respiration and through water borne transport mechanisms, such as sweat and urine. Making sure you have sufficient water to maximize these is paramount to your health.
How much water should I drink each day?
We are counseled over and over to drink at least 64 oz of water every day, and more if one needs to replace water lost to excessive heat or exercise. Indeed, exercising on a hot day can easily triple that total.
One important point to note, however. The amount of water contained in the food you eat counts toward the quantity of water you need to consume every day. If you’re eating large quantities of certain vegetables, such as lettuce or green peppers, these contain substantial quantities of water that will count toward your 64oz.
Another very important point is not to drink too much water, as that can imbalance your electrolytes, potentially leading to serious health problems, even stoppage of the ole’ heart!
So, drinking (cool, clear, pure) water has a number of important benefits, including helping you to lose weight. Here are some of them:
1 – Weight loss
2 – Fat loss
3 – Better overall bodily function
4 – Better overall health
5 – Maximizing muscle growth
Drinking Bad Water Can Really Mess Up Your Day, and You’re Probably Drinking it Right Now!
Just as drinking cool, clean, water is beneficial to the body, drinking water with even trace containments can be harmful. Numerous studies have linked myriad health problems with contaminated drinking water. Sadly even in developed countries such as the U.S. and the U.K., many municipal water systems have at least trace amounts of less than desirable compounds such as lead, chlorine, pesticides, and arsenic.
In fact a recent, widely reported study discovered that many municipal water systems throughout the United States have larger than desirable amounts of several contaminants. The 2008 study, performed by the Associated press in 24 U.S. metro areas found major numbers of different pharmaceuticals in our drinking water. Thankfully the drugs were only present in trace amounts, but some of these build up in our systems.
Yet another study of drinking water performed by the AP in America’s public schools found “unsafe levels of lead, pesticides and dozens of other toxins” present in every state in the union. Lest you think this was a long time ago, the study was conducted this year and reported in September.
In addition, some people live in older homes or apartment buildings that have lead pipes and use lead based solder in their plumbing. This can add very small, trace amounts of lead to the water. This is more troubling for infants than adults due to the greater proportional water use in the very young than adults and older children. The very young are also in the critical development stage, where lead ingestion is a greater concern. You should get a lead test kit at your local hardware store and test for lead contamination.
Buying bottled water is no defense either. You’d think that store bought, bottled water would be free of impurities, but no such guarantee exists. Actually you can still get a substantial amount of impurities in bottled water. A 2008 study by the Environmental Working Group found surprisingly high levels of various contaminants in a large number of bottled water brands purchased throughout the United States. These compounds included fertilizers, chlorine, caffeine, pain killers, and even radioactive isotopes. Hey, that’s the same stuff found in municipal water supplies!
They concluded that much of the bottled water you buy is virtually the same as water straight from the tap, and in many cases that’s exactly what you’re buying, you’re just paying much more for it. The study’s contention is that while municipalities are required to publish reports on what is found in their water, bottled water purveyors operate under no such restrictions. They just rely on the pretty labels to indicate the purity of their water.
That means your best bet is to purchase either one of the large, bottled water dispensers that has purity certified water, or purchase either a whole house or point of dispensation water filter. Many brands of these exist, and they can be found either online or locally. The whole house systems require professional installation, while the point of dispensation units can usually be installed by anyone who has even a modicum of mechanical aptitude. The whole house units have the advantage that you’ll get to bathe and wash your clothes in the same crystal clear water you drink.
You can even buy one of those filter pitchers you leave in your refrigerator. I know it made a difference in how my water tastes, although I can’t vouch for what it did to the chemical composition of the stuff.
So drinking clean, cool water has benefits and it can help you lose weight, especially if you’ve been chronically underhydrated, as many people have been, especially those that lose a large amount of water due to exercise or heat.