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I have struggled with being overweight just about my entire adult life. Some people joke about putting on the "freshman 15," I decided to go for the freshman 50! Well, decided might be a strong way of wording it. I went to college, ate what tasted good, and didn’t work out…and there you go.
Now, 20 years down the road, I am working on losing the 70+lbs I have accumulated that literally weight me down. Now, hopefully you didn't go to the extent I did, and are just trying to shave off maybe 10 or 20 lbs. But, the questions always come up as to what will work and what won't.
You may have read that if you just drink enough water, you'll shed that weight. But how much truth is there really to that claim? Let's jump in and look at the role of water, and whether it can actually help you lose that extra weight or not.
Importance of Water to the Body
Everyone learned in health class that water comprises about 70% of the human body. This is exceptionally important to keep in mind because if we follow to apply some simple logic here, you can see the vast majority of what you consume should be water.
There's a reason why many movies have a plot line of leaving people in the desert without water because without it your body cannot function. Think, for just a minute, about every aspect of your body that you encounter fluid of some kind. When you cry, that's water. When your mouth salivates, that's water. When you have a runny nose, okay that's gross, but that's water too!
Moving toward more grossness, when you urinate or have a bowel movement, water is involved in both of those. And those are critical because those functions rid your body of toxins. Without water, your body cannot eliminate those things that are harmful to it, leading to infections and worse.
Then go down deeper than you normally think, to the cellular level. Your cells must have water to function correctly. Without water, your cells cannot use the oxygen or other nutrients needed to work, which means without water they starve and suffocate.
Are you starting to see how important water truly is to your life? We joke with our boys that they could survive for a week or more without food, but they would only last a few days without water.
Can You Overdose on Water?
As you've dug and research, you've probably also found that you can overdose on water. On a technical level, that is true, you could hypothetically drink enough water to cause a negative reaction in your body.
What causes this is drinking so much water that you throw off the balance of electrolytes in your body. These are minerals and compounds like sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium, and they help your body do its various jobs (think your heart ticking, muscles contracting, etc.).
Electrolytes are typically water-soluble, so it's possible to deplete the amount in your body so low that your cells don't have enough to do their various jobs. This is known as water intoxication, and can be a serious condition.
The risk of having this happen for most people is actually quite low. First, you’d have to drink an incredible amount of water, plus your body would likely have to be flushing them excessively, such as through sweat. The people at the largest risk for this condition are athletes who sweat excessively, while also trying to hydrate, such a runners and bikers.
How Much Water Do You Need?
You've probably heard doctors and others say that you need to drink 8 glasses of water every day. At 8 ounces per glass, that is 64 ounces per day. This is not the optimal level for good hydration, especially if you're trying to lose weight. Rather, this is the bare minimum to give your body what it needs.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a better goal is about 3.7 liters for men (roughly 125 ounces) and 2.7 liters for women (roughly 91 ounces). This is actually dependent on your body weight, activity, and overall health. If your kidneys are working properly, aim for 50% of your body weight in ounces. If you’re highly active and sweat a lot, or you’re trying to detox, add 20 ounces.
I often hear people complain about needing to go to the bathroom more when they drink this amount of water. Yes, that will happen initially because your body is purging toxins it has stored. Don't worry, this will slow down after a little while. Also, be sure you're not trying to guzzle this all at once, but spacing out your consumption. This will also help reduce bathroom visits.
Does It Have to Be Water?
According to many articles and technical science, no, you don’t have to get all of this water from just drinking water. Rather, many other beverages you drink have a primary component of water, as does many great foods like spinach and watermelon also have an incredible amount of water.
When it comes to losing weight, though, you need to decide how much you really want to lose it and what you're willing to do. I've personally had to struggle with this because I love to eat, and don't necessarily love drinking water all the time!
The problem with relying on non-water sources for your water is all the other stuff you get at the same time. Yes, some of those nutrients are important, such as the electrolytes. However, I've made the mistake of drinking coffee instead of water, and I put creamer and coconut palm sugar in my coffee. That means I'm getting empty calories from my hydration. Those calories are counterproductive to trying to lose weight. My personal recommendation is to drink as much of that water as you possibly can as just water.
Getting the Right Water
Getting the right water is just as important as actually drinking water. Municipal and well waters may have chemicals and things in it that is supporting your goal for weight loss. The same goes for many brands of bottled water, regardless of what the marketing labels say.
We've decided to try to make water as safe as possible in our house by using a substantial filter. You could do a reverse osmosis system, but those can be cost prohibitive, both for purchasing the system and having it installed.
Be careful with filters also, being your body does need the minerals, electrolytes, and other nutrients commonly found in good water. Your water filter should remove the bad stuff without removing all the good stuff.
What do you think about water? Are you excited to drink it, or do you find anything you can to drink aside from water alone? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.