Thursday, October 4, 2012

Water and Weight Loss

Yep, I’m dedicating an entry just to water.  We know we need to consume it, and most of us don’t get enough.  Water is critical to your body and can be a huge help when it comes to weight loss.

As you may know, water is the main component of our bodies; it accounts for about 60% of body weight.  When you are consuming enough water (we’ll address that question in a minute), your metabolic function, body temperature regulation, blood volume and liver functions all operate at an ideal level.  A note about your liver: when it works, it encourages the body to use fat for energy.  Basically, water is the system that makes the other systems go.

On the flip side, dehydration can cause trouble for the body.  Physiologically, it can decrease blood volume, increase core temperate and heart rate and increase the use of muscle glycogen.  It also can cause sodium and water retention, decrease performance and increased the rate of perceived exertion.

You can see how water intake is critical to weight loss.  It helps the body flush itself and function more efficiently.  Think about how hot it was this summer.  You probably noticed when you didn’t drink enough water – feeling sluggish, basic exercise seems harder and maybe even feeling bloated.

Now, how much water is the right amount to consume?  This question has varying answers.  Thirst is actually not the single indicator you need to drink more water.  The answer I use with my clients is to start with dividing your body weight in half.  That’s the number of ounces of water you need per day.  If you exercise or are in a hot climate, increase that 15-20%.  The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 20-40 ounces of water for every hour of exercise.  This is a good guideline to follow if you don’t like figuring out the percentage.

Another benefit of drinking water: it fills you up.  Hunger can be mistaken for thirst.  When you think you are hungry, drink 8-10 ounces of water and wait 30 minutes.  If you are still hungry, have a snack.  This also works well before eating out at restaurants or at events.  I have a water bottle with me just about everywhere, just in case.

Keep drinking that water!