When weight loss is your goal, you don’t want to overlook the basics…And, what could be more basic than water!
In this video and blog post, I explain how staying hydrated helps you lose weight.
Boost Weight Loss with More Water [Video]
Staying hydrated is important for your health, but did you also know that it aids weight loss?
In this video, I explain how water helps your body burn calories and how much you need to stay hydrated.
Water and Your Metabolism
About 65% of your body is made up of water.
Maintaining that sufficient watery environment is important for your metabolism because the enzymes and processes that run your metabolism rely on it.
When you’re dehydrated, the calories that you have available are not as easily converted to energy.
So, not only do you burn fewer of the calories that you eat, your body’s ability to convert fat from your body into energy diminishes.
That sets up a cascade of unwanted effects because, now, you are making less energy, so you feel sluggish, lack the motivation to exercise, and your cravings increase because your body wants you to eat more energy (food is energy).
Dehydration Mimics Hunger
It’s also important to understand that thirst mimics hunger, so you might find yourself searching for something to eat when what your body really wants is a glass of water.
Water for Weight Loss? Research Shows the Link
The links between staying hydrated and controlling your weight seem to bear out when we look at the research.
This paper published in The Annals of Family Medicine shows that those “who were inadequately hydrated had higher BMIs and higher odds of being obese” (1)
While this finding doesn’t prove that dehydration cause you to gain weight, it does show that the two factors are related
How Much Water Do You Need To Be Hydrated?
There is no perfect water recommendation because the amount your body needs will depend on your activity level, body size, the weather, and even how much water you’re getting from food.
Yet, having said that, 64 ounces or about 2 liters of water a day is a good amount to aim for, and then…
Increase your water intake if you are…
- a larger person
- highly active
- spending a lot of time in a hot environment
- not eating a lot of watery foods like fruits and vegetables
Your Diet Impacts Your Hydration Level
Another important component that will impact hydration is a low-carb or ketogenic diet.
Carbohydrates cause your body to retain fluid, so when you reduce the amount you’re eating, water and electrolytes are flushed out of your body.
It’s not uncommon for someone who switches from a high-carb to a low-carb diet to experience symptoms of dehydration, such as headaches, fatigue, and constipation.
Constipation is a complication of dehydration because the colon is the last chance that your body has to retain water if it needs it.
If your body needs the water it takes water from the bowel and you become constipated.
Low-Carb or Keto? Supplement with Electrolytes
You need to be diligent about your water and electrolyte intake when you change your diet to a low-carb or keto diet.
A great trick to help stay fully hydrated is to drink a glass of water spiked with electrolytes first thing in the morning.
In fact, this is how I start every morning.
When we sleep, our bodies naturally dehydrate, so when I get up, I have 12 drops of my electrolyte supplement (Endure) in an eight-ounce glass of water.
It is mildly salty, so I just chug it down to quickly replenish my baseline water level for the day.
I use Endure Electrolyte Supplement, you can find it on Amazon if you’re interested in the brand.
I also take it at night with a little less water (so, I’m not up all night heading to the bathroom).
The supplement contains magnesium which helps you sleep more soundly.
NOTE: I don’t recommend sports drinks, like Gatorade because they either contain sugar or artificial sweeteners or an array of chemicals that you don’t want in your body.
Coffee and Dehydration: Myth or Fact?
I drink coffee in the morning and many people wonder if that is like taking one step forward and one step back because caffeine is thought to be a diuretic.
I do not think that is the case.
The idea that caffeine causes dehydration is one of those “sound bite ideas” that has gotten stuck in our heads, but there is plenty of research that shows that caffeine is not the dehydrating machine that it is made out to be (2)(3).
While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that you can substitute coffee for water, I will say that having coffee in the morning will not significantly interfere with your hydration efforts.
If weight loss is your goal, don’t forget the basics. Stay hydrated and you’ll be happier with the way you feel and the results you get on the scale.
(1) Chang, Tammy, et al. “Inadequate hydration, BMI, and obesity among US adults: NHANES 2009–2012.” The Annals of Family Medicine 14.4 (2016): 320-324.
(2) Armstrong, Lawrence E., et al. “Fluid, electrolyte, and renal indices of hydration during 11 days of controlled caffeine consumption.” International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 15.3 (2005): 252-265.
(3) Ruxton, C. H. S. “The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks.” Nutrition Bulletin 33.1 (2008): 15-25.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.