Many people are surprised to hear that there is a connection between water consumption and maintaining a healthy weight. After all, usually weight loss regimens depend on controlling your intake of food and beverages that have a lot of calories—not those that have zero calories, like water. But the fact of the matter is that your water consumption can, in fact, have a direct influence on your weight loss goals. Most people are operating under a moderate to severe level of dehydration. If you’re already getting more than enough water in your diet, you may not notice a difference in your weight from upping your water intake. On the other hand, if you’re one of the millions of people who aren’t getting sufficient water, you’ll very likely notice a significant improvement in your weight loss or weight maintenance efforts by getting more water.
People generally aren’t too cognizant of the amount of water they’re getting, which leads to getting half or less of the quantity of water they need. How can this be? Well, the human body is designed to survive well on minimum amounts of necessities. But minimum amounts aren’t optimum amounts, which is why people notice less than optimal results—like holding on to excess weight, bad skin, fatigue—even while they feel like they’re getting “enough” water.
Hydration is Important to Metabolism
Metabolism is a series of reactions, chemical and otherwise, that take place whithin your body in order to provide your body with energy to move, think, heal, and recover. Those chemical reactions run more smoothly in a well-hydrated body. Consider a car. If your car has sufficient fluids—oil, gas, antifreeze, water—it runs far more smoothly. Your body is the same way, and water helps to fulfill all of these roles in one way or another. Being dehydrated even by one percent can have a detrimental effect on your body’s functions, including metabolism.
Thirst and Hunger
You likely feel that there’s a significant difference between the feelings of thirst and hunger—and you’re not entirely wrong. But by the time you feel “thirst” you’re probably already significantly dehydrated. Prior to that, however, the feelings you recognize as thirst and hunger have a big overlap. That is, you might think you’re hungry, but a cup of water could alleviate that—because you’re actually feeling low level thirst. That’s why so many diets recommend drinking a glass of water before each meal.
How Much Is Enough?
The rule of thumb is “eight times eight,” that is, eight glasses (eight ounces) a day. Experts, however, vary in their opinions. Virtually all agree that it depends largely on your size and weight, your activity level, and your environment. A marathon runner in a dry climate needs far more than eight glasses of water a day, an IT worker in a damp, cool climate may need less. The best thing to do is to start with the eight-times-eight benchmark and experiment with more or less from there.