I’m Drowning!

 

glass-of-water

For years I’ve had running coaches and trainers go on and on about water. Drink water.  Stay hydrated.  Stay away from soda.  Water. Water. Water.  It gets to be a bit overwhelming all of the instructions that are given to us when we first start a lifestyle of fitness, so as usual, I’m hear to hopefully clear the air and help make a little sense of things.

There are things we all know.  Water is important.  Our bodies are made up primarily of water – at least half of our body weight is water.  Wow!  But why is water so important, especially for weight loss?  There are several reasons!

Dry Rivers

800px-Dry_river_bed_in_California

While the body is made up of a great deal of water, there is a specific part of your body that is made up almost entirely of water – blood plasma!  Blood plasma is composed 90% of water.  Blood plasma is the river that oxygen and nutrients travel on to reach cells for metabolism.  The chemical process of metabolism that is most influential for weight loss takes a lot of oxygen to oxidize the chemical compounds that drive the body.  If you are dehydrated, the blood plasma thickens and the body simply doesn’t have the raw materials it needs to effectively metabolize nutrients to it’s best ability.   The body has an incredible survival system in that if those raw materials aren’t accessible, it sets a higher priority to more vital functions and then sends unused nutrients on their way.  Even at rest, muscles are burning calories, but when they aren’t able to take in the oxygen they need to burn those calories, they simply rest.  What does that mean?  Slower metabolism!!

Be nice to your Liver

Similar to the flow of blood plasma, the Kidneys need water to help eliminate toxins and process water.  When the kidneys become overloaded due to dehydration, the Liver begins to assist in the elimination of toxins.  But this is bad.  Why?  First, it’s the liver’s job to convert stored fat into energy.  This is a good thing.  But if the liver is being re-tasked to help with the kidneys, that job gets put on hold.  Second, the liver acts like a hibernating bear.  Because the body has signaled that there is a shortage of water, the liver starts stockpiling.   Eventually, the fluid retention on the liver has to be handled by the body, further taking it away from it’s job of converting fat to energy.  By not giving your body the water it needs, you are taking away one of the single most important employees away from it’s job and basically turning it into the body’s disposal.  Not good.

Psychology at it’s best

We humans think we have everything figured out.  But one of the biggest signals our body gives is the signal that is commonly the most misinterpreted.  Often times when the body is needing water, we notice the cues, but our brains interpret them as hunger cues.  Now I know what you’re thinking – “yeah, but when I eat something, it goes away.”  You’re right.  It does.  Primarily, it tricks the stomach long enough to get it to hush.  But typically if you begin snacking, 30 minutes to an hour later, you feel the same signal and you snack more.  Also, keep in mind that just like our bodies, foods have water in them too.  You may be able to keep those signals at bay for a while, but eventually they will come back.  Studies have shown that those who remain hydrated throughout the day tend to snack much less than those who don’t.  In fact, one study suggested that those who began to keep water bottles nearby (and actually drank the water) tended to take in, on average, 450 calories less per day!  Many diets will tell you to “trick” your body by drinking water to eliminate hunger cues.  But the truth is, the only one being tricked is you.  By drinking water, you are giving your body exactly what it wants!

So How Much??

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are so very many opinions about how much water we should drink.  There’s those who say 8 ounces eight times a day.  Some say half your body weight in ounces per day.  Both of those seem like a tremendous amount of water, and those theories are being questioned and disproven more and more often.   In 2004, the Institute of Medicine issued new recommendations that remove the eight glasses per day requirement and suggest that healthy adults use thirst as a guide to determine hydration.  However, this doesn’t include athletes and those taking part in prolonged physical activities or extreme conditions.  Their suggestion for these groups is, on average, 91 total ounces for women and 125 total ounces for men.  Keep in mind that term total ounces – I’m about to touch on that!

Do I have to drink just water?

Shopping Basket Series

No.  The IOM along with several other Medical organizations have all agreed that water can come from various sources.  Most also suggest that even caffeinated beverages can be counted in the total water amounts as long as the individual takes into account the effect that caffeine may act as a diuretic for them.  Studies have shown that with reasonable amounts of intake, caffeinated beverages have such a minimal diuretic effect that it is negligible.  Also, the IOM suggests that of the total ounces it recommends, 20% should come from food.  Foods such as lettuce, watermelon, broccoli, grapefruit, milk, carrots, yogurt, and apples all are made up of at least 85% water.  These foods can be counted into your total water intake!! 

Final Tips

These are some ideas to help you get more water in your diet.  They have certainly helped me along the way.  If you have other suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

  • Keep a bottle of water near you.  You’re more likely to drink it if it is nearby.  I have reusable water bottles such as those made by Nalgene that I can fill at water fountains and restaurants.
  • Drink a glass of water before your meal.  It will help you eat less and will aid in digestion.
  • Drink when you start feeling hungry mid-day. 
  • Add flavorings or fruit to plain water if you don’t like the taste.  Flavoring packets can easily be kept in your car or purse and added to bottles.

Water is crucial to keeping your body and metabolism at it’s peak.  You would never send an employee to do a job without the tools it needs, so remember when you are attempting to lose weight to give your body what it needs!  I hope I have been able to explain just how the body uses water to help you lose weight!  If you would like any of the resources used for this post, please ask! 

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful weather most of us in the United States are experiencing right now!  What are you doing to enjoy it?  Are you taking advantage of it to get moving?  I hope so!!  Great job this week – keep it up.  You are worth it!!

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~ by Shawna on March 31, 2010.

4 Responses to “I’m Drowning!”

  1. It’s obvious I’m not drinking enough with my semi-lethargic lifestyle; let alone when I start running.

    • You’ll get there – once you really get into the running, you’ll feel thirst show it’s ugly face. I’d never really experienced dehydration until I started working out – then BAM!

  2. This is a great post I think I’m going to start following those tips I really like the one about drinking before meals

  3. hey shawna!

    i thought i already commented on this . . . probably erased
    it. 😦

    great and super informative piece that has already spurred
    me into drinking more water! thank you.

    thank you, too, for your perspective on ‘aroma’. that touched
    me and made me sad for you . . . and happy for you that your
    little guys smell just like you.

    and you smell just like Him.

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