Water is an essential nutrient that makes your body run smoothly and efficiently. Because the average adult’s body is about 65% water, it’s no wonder that we can only survive for about three to five days without it! Water transports nutrients and oxygen to cells, carries away waste products and lubricates our digestive tracts, joints and cartilage. The Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences suggests an adequate total fluid intake of about 13 cups per day for men and about 10 cups per day for women. (Keep in mind that you may need more or less, depending on activity level, body size and environment.)
As the foundation for all body functions, this zero-calorie drink is a liquid asset, especially for weight loss. Here are five reasons why you should make water your weight-loss pal:
1. IT CURBS HUNGER AND PROMOTES SATIETY
The body’s “thirst center” in the brain, the hypothalamus, also regulates appetite. When you’re dehydrated, your body can perceive mixed signals on hunger, causing you to believe that you need to eat when you’re actually just thirsty. One study found that drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals helped subjects lose more weight. Hungry? Drink some water first. Staying hydrated can help you ward off fake hunger signals.
2. IT KEEPS YOUR MIND SHARP
In addition to being naturally calorie-free, sugar-free and caffeine-free, water helps transport oxygen to the brain to ensure it functions at optimum levels. Even mild dehydration can impact your cognitive performance, tamper with your mood and make you feel fatigued. These effects can lead to mindless stress eating, poor food choices and, ultimately, breaking the calorie bank. Next time you’re feeling spaced out, try drinking some cold water to zap the sluggishness out of you.
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3. IT POWERS YOUR WORKOUTS
In addition to boosting your metabolism, water helps prevent muscle cramping, so you can work out harder and longer. Take note that your water needs increase after working out. During long endurance workouts, drink water with carbohydrates and electrolytes to help maintain fluid balance and prevent post-exercise exhaustion.
4. IT HELPS YOU STAY REGULAR
From start to finish, water keeps your digestive system running smoothly. The saliva in your mouth contains water and digestive enzymes to break down your food. In your stomach, water balances the acidic environment to prevent ulcers, indigestion and heartburn. If you’re following a high-fiber diet, be extra diligent in drinking water, as fiber depends on it. Soluble fiber absorbs water to become a gel like mass that slows down the rate at which food leaves the stomach, and insoluble fiber traps and retains water to add bulk and moisture to your stool, which prevents constipation.
5. IT HELPS YOU SAVE ON CALORIES
Liquid calories like juices and sodas don’t fill you up, and their high sugar content can cause insulin spikes that can set you up for a crash. According to this systematic review, drinking water in place of sugar-sweetened beverages resulted in less weight gain over a four-year period. If you want more pizzazz than plain water, try sparkling water, or give it a flavor makeover with berries, cucumbers, mint or grapefruit.
Make water a part of your weight-loss journey by getting enough of this essential nutrient in your daily diet. Try these 20 great life hacks to help you reach your goal, and don’t forget to log your water on the MyFitnessPal app — we make it easy to track your intake. Drink up and stay hydrated!