How much water do you drink each day?
I ask every patient who works with me this question. Amy does the same for DAMY Members.
Although a simple question, concept and action to take the benefits cannot be ignored. The fundamentals of holistic weight loss include proper diet and exercise, sleep, stress reduction and proper hydration. This means keeping fluids to mostly water and frequent enough to keep the urine clear or light yellow.
This question very commonly yields one of the following responses:
- Not enough
- I know I need more
- Enough (knowing I am going to give them a higher recommendation)
Very rarely do I hear “too much” (although it does happen!).
Amy swears by her water habit as a key to her success and in holistic weight loss adequate water consumption has been proven essential many times in the literature and in practice. The study I am going to share with you today is no different as it highlights how simple changes can offer major results when it comes to a holistic approach to weight loss.
Drinking more water associated with numerous dietary benefits, study finds
In a large trial published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics researchers found that as water consumption increased caloric consumption decreased, sugar-sweetened beverages were reduced and fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol from pastries were also minimized.
If you enjoy numbers here are the details:
“People who increased their consumption of water by one, two or three cups daily decreased their total energy intake by 68 to 205 calories daily and their sodium intake by 78 to 235 milligrams, according to a paper by University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An. They also consumed 5 grams to nearly 18 grams less sugar and decreased their cholesterol consumption by 7 to 21 milligrams daily.”
Although these changes look small they have major benefits. Long term reduced caloric intake is associated with reduced obesity, inflammation and a longer life.
Not losing weight? How water help you lose
The above study shows how staying hydrated can help with calorie reduction. This isn’t a minor success. Calorie reduction can be difficult. If you crave sugar, stress eat or enjoy going to restaurants you know how quickly calories can accumulate. Drinking adequate amounts of water each day can prevent these occurrences and help to mitigate their effects when they happen.
There are other benefits to replacing junk food/drinks with water:
- Replacing Sugary Drinks with Unsweetened Beverages Can Reduce Diabetes Risk
- Sugar-sweetened drinks associated with higher blood pressure
- New research exposes health risks of fructose, sugary drinks
- High sugar consumption may increase risk factors for heart disease in American teenagers
- Diet beverage drinkers compensate by eating unhealthy food, study finds
If you regularly drink soda, sweetened iced tea, sugary drinks, etc you are increasing your risk for more than just weight gain.
I can’t stress enough how important staying hydrated is to overall health. We have all heard hundreds of times that we are mostly water (now I can stop hearing about how we are locally outnumbered by bacteria) and I have explained before on the blog how important water is to organ function (bowel, brain, skin, etc).
I find it helpful to check in with my own personal water consumption often as I don’t recognize thirst as well as I should. I have to consciously drink.
If you are also the type to forget to drink here are a few tips to help with your hydration:
- Drink when you first wake up
- Drink when you brush your teeth
- Drink when you sit down to work
- Drink after your workout
- Drink when you sit down to relax
These are some of the habits I find helpful. You won’t need all of them. Pick a few and stick with it.
Even if you are a coffee and tea drinker I recommend you find time for water. In weight loss we see the following benefits:
- Maintenance of bowel function – stool needs to be hydrated. When the colon is functioning optimally weight loss is much easier.
- Increase energy – dehydration can cause mental and physical fatigue. This can lead to poor food choices and reduced ability to exercise.
- Increased metabolism – A Nature article from 2009 in the International Journal of Obesity presented a mechanism for how hydration can improve metabolism – details here.
Most people don’t need to be “sold” on the benefits of water. Sometimes a gentle reminder can be helpful and whenever a trial as large as this occurs it is difficult not to share the findings.
- An, J. McCaffrey. Plain water consumption in relation to energy intake and diet quality among US adults, 2005-2012. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/jhn.12368