image via Shutterstock / Netfalls Remy Musser
It may seem like a no brainer – we all need water and surely, it can’t be that hard (at least in the Western world) to consume the adequate intake. However, such an unassuming factor as hydration is often overlooked in today’s realm of fad diets, protein shakes and super nutrients (think Kale and Acai). It’s a situation where coconut derived alternatives are often touted as being more essential then plain old water itself. However humble it may seem, H2O should never be overlooked when it comes to ensuring that your body works at its peak function. Also, its ability to achieve weight loss is fundamental.
Did you know that water makes up 95 per cent of the human brain and 60 to 70 per cent of the entire body? It is critical to just about every organ; the skin, lungs, kidneys, heart; muscles. Hydration is essential for both mental acuity and physical performance. When it comes to working out and training even mild levels of hydration can cripple your ability. In terms of digestion, water has the innate capability to speed up the metabolism and expel waste more efficiently. Ensuring you have enough water in your body at all times is the key to both general health and physical fitness.
Scientific studies back up the benefits of sufficient hydration in assisting weight loss. Researchers estimate that if a person increases water consumption by 1.5 litres a day they stand to burn an extra 17,400 calories per year (source: Franz-Volhard Clinical Research Centre, Germany). This is because; given adequate levels of daily water intake, people experience on average a 30 per cent increase in general metabolic rate. A separate study also found that people who drank water before a meal consumed an average of 75 less calories during that meal (source: Virginia Tech, USA).
Another major consideration about the importance of hydration is the fact that not getting enough water can potentially mean losing energy. Fatigue is a major obstacle in the battle for fitness and weight loss and even a slight level of dehydration (1 to 2 per cent) has been shown to increase lethargy and also impair cognitive function. Dehydration also leads to muscle cramping and impedes the recovery process after physical activity. If you aren’t seeing the results that you hoped for at the gym, a failure to stay hydrated could be the culprit.
Hydration provides other valuable paybacks – it can enhance your physical appearance. Your skin stands to reap the rewards of increasing your water intake to an adequate level. Do you have chapped lips… give H2O a go? Drinking more water promotes increased lubrication, elasticity and healthy tone in your skin. A little known fact is that not getting enough water contributes to tooth decay. It really is a far reaching and all-encompassing factor in health and wellbeing.
So how much water is enough to reap the benefits for weight loss, health, fitness and beauty? It differs person-to-person and according to levels of activity (and even the climate in which you live). But, surprisingly, the amount required per day by the average person for optimal hydration is often greater than the much-publicised 8 cups. If you are working out to a reasonable intensity you can add two more cups to that total. For optimal weight loss benefits you can stand to tack on two more per day on top of that.
It can be difficult to consider drinking that much water per day… and it sure can seem a bit boring. Unfortunately, water appears to pale in comparison to the host of sports drinks and weight loss aiding alternatives. However, keep in mind that pure water is always best for your body. Sugar is never a friend to those with weight issues. Sure, you can try creative ways to make consuming water more appealing (like adding a splash of lime or chlorophyll to your water bottle) but, stay away from caffeinated drinks – they act as diuretics and contribute to all the disadvantages of dehydration as discussed.
You can reduce your fatigue levels and curb sugar cravings (try keeping a glass of water next to the bed at night) by actively working on your hydration levels on a daily basis. Water may not be as trendy as all those other weight loss and supplements on the market but what comes out the tap best fuels a healthy and optimal body, mind and physical appearance.