Monday, May 11, 2015 11:47 AM

How Important is Drinking Water?

How important is drinking water? Think of it this way, how important is putting oil in your car? Pretty important right?  Well the same can be said for getting enough water.

Whether you realize it or not you are constantly losing water. This doesn’t just occur while doing time on a spin bike at the gym.  In your everyday life you are losing water to evaporation from your skin, from breathing, in urine and stool.  If your output is greater than your input dehydration is the result and the human body will not operate efficiently.  Hmmmmm……..kind of sounds like what would happen to your car if it is low on oil doesn’t it?

There are a whole host of body functions that will work much more efficiently if your motor, i.e., body is topped off with fluids such as circulation and maintaining body temp. Let’s look at one of these crucial functions and how it affects a daily task that is near and dear to all our hearts, eating! 

An easy sign of running low on water would be good old ‘cotton mouth’. Quite simply you are not creating saliva as you should. Saliva mixed into your food as you chew actually starts the process of breaking down your food both mechanically and chemically by adding the enzyme amylase. Proper hydration levels will also help with digestion as well. However, I am not talking about flooding your system with water as you eat. 

Yes drinking water with meals is fine and good but not guzzling with meals.  It is possible to drink enough water to dilute the naturally occurring acids in your stomach to the point that they do not continue to break down your stomach contents as they should nor at the rate they should. We are talking about already being hydrated before you sit down to a meal.  Being hydrated will also allow you to transport and absorb nutrients more efficiently as well. When you are not well hydrated your colon and large intestines will absorb the water it needs from stool as it passes. This commonly results in constipation.

When working with clients that want to lose weight the first thing I change as far as dietary habits go is to adjust their water intake.  I never make wholesale sweeping dietary changes all at once. I find that most folks will not last very long if you do that. Don’t believe me?  Be honest and tell me how long that ‘Get in Shape’ or ‘Lose Weight’ New Year’s Resolution thing went for you last year or the year before? 

So I find if I make small gradual changes to someone’s nutrition plan it will eventually become an easy to stick to lifestyle change and NOT a diet. Yes drinking water can help you feel a little fuller and help you eat a little less, however in my opinion if you substitute water for other calorie rich beverages you will be much more ahead of the game. 

Heard of ‘Volumetrics Weight Control’?  Let me sum up.  On average we will get roughly 20% of our needed hydration via the food we eat.  Foods with a higher water content tend to be absorbed slower by the body thus helping you feel fuller longer.  Fruits and vegetables fit the bill here.  Beware if you are one who prefers juice to a raw piece of fruit or vegetable the lack of fiber in juice makes it absorb faster.  That is pretty much the theory behind Volumetrics.
So how much water do I need to drink you ask?  Here are a couple of formulas for figuring that out.  Beware these are NOT exact!  Activity levels and ambient temp/ environment also factor into how much water you will need. 

Body Weight x 2/3 or 67% = oz of water Example:  185 lbs x 0.67 = 124 oz daily

8 x 8 Rule:
Drink 8, 8 oz glasses of water a day

If you do the math I am pretty sure you will be surprised at how short you are coming at hitting the mark on your daily hydration. You are not alone, this is common! Right about now you are probably sitting there thinking, “How am I going to be able to drink that much water in a day?” Let me assist you with a few tricks.

  • Place a 12oz glass of water next to the sink in your bathroom.  If you take meds regularly every morning wash them down with that full 12oz glass of water and just like that right out of bed you are already 10% done meeting your daily goal!
  • Keep a water bottle at your desk at work as well as in your car.
  • Drink water before every meal.
  • Drink a glass of water as you brush your teeth at night before bed.
  • If you do not like water try adding flavor via, lemon, lime, cucumber slice or a ‘Liquid Water Enhancer.’

See, it's not so hard to fuel your machine well for peak performance!

Tim Clark
Fitness Center Manager
Community Regional Medical Center