There are many reasons why it is important to drink water, especially if you are dieting:
- Initial weight loss is largely due to loss of water, and you need to drink an adequate amount of water in order to avoid dehydration.
- The process of burning calories requires an adequate supply of water in order to function efficiently; dehydration slows down the fat-burning process.
- Burning calories creates toxins (think of the exhaust coming out of your car), and water plays a vital role in flushing them out of your body.
- Dehydration causes a reduction in blood volume; a reduction in blood volume causes a reduction in the supply of oxygen to your muscles; and a reduction in the supply of oxygen to your muscles can make you feel tired.
- Water helps maintain muscle tone by assisting muscles in their ability to contract, and it lubricates your joints. Proper hydration can help reduce muscle and joint soreness when exercising.
- A healthy (weight loss) diet includes a good amount of fiber. But while fiber is normally helpful to your digestive system, without adequate fluids it can cause constipation instead of helping to eliminate it.
- Drinking water with a meal may make you feel full sooner and therefore satisfied eating less. Note, however, that drinking water alone may not have this effect. In order to feel satiated (not hungry), our bodies need bulk, calories and nutrients.
Do not worry that drinking water will give your body a bloated look. There are a number of causes of water retention, including consuming too much salt. But drinking water is not one of them.
It is possible to harm yourself by drinking too much water, but it takes quite an effort. Either through obsessive-compulsive behavior or extended athletic activity, drinking large amounts of water can dilute the electrolytes (sodium and potassium) in your blood to the point that it interferes with brain, heart and muscle function. Athletes compound the problem with the loss of sodium (salt) through sweating, but can drink electrolyte replacement drinks like Smart Water and Powerade Zero to help keep things in balance.
Tips on Drinking Water
- Drinking other liquids also provides your body with a source of water, but note that diuretics cause your body to expel water. Diuretics include caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea and soda) and alcohol. When drinking diuretics, drink more water to compensate.
When drinking alcohol, drinking water along with it as well as before and afterward may eliminate a hangover headache and feeling of tiredness. The water is optional; driving is not.
- When you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Try to avoid this situation by drinking in advance. Be especially careful when participating in activities where you won’t be able to stop to get caught up.
- You’ve heard countless advertisements telling you what product to start your day with. We recommend a couple of glasses of water to rehydrate your body. No charge.
Sodium: How much do you need?
According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
- Don’t exceed 2,300 mg of sodium a day if you’re a healthy adult.
- Don’t exceed 1,500 mg of sodium a day if you have high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes; you are black; or you’re middle-aged or older.
Keep in mind that these are upper limits, and less is usually best, especially if you’re sensitive to the effects of sodium. If you aren’t sure how much sodium your diet should include, talk to your doctor.
I shoot for no more than 2,000 mg per day and really shoot for between 1,300 – 1,700 mg’s per day. Here is a link to the American Heart Association article on sodium: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4708