It seems to be the forgotten advice. When looking to change their diet people go for the habits that will yield the best results. We cut out fast food, eat more veggies, increase complex carbs, decrease sodium, have protein after a workout, avoid refined sugars, and somewhere in there we know we should drink more water too. But really it’s just water, how important can it be? It can’t possibly matter as much as all of the other things, can it? When it comes to changing your body, either losing fat or gaining muscle, water is an essential piece of the puzzle!
Why is water so important?
Our muscle cells are mostly water. If the fluid level in our cells decreases then we lose strength and feel fatigued. This means that we cannot physically perform as well during a workout and that will affect muscle gains. We need to drink adequate water to keep our muscle cells healthy and working to full capacity!
Water intake is even more important when it comes to fat loss, for a number of reasons. Firstly, drinking enough water maintains the numerous fluids within our bodies which serve a range of functions from digestion, nutrient absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients and regulation of body temperature. If you are low on fluids your body will retain water in order to have enough to perform the necessary functions of life! Losing body fat requires us to first break the fat cells down and release the stored energy. Then we need to use that energy so it doesn’t get re-deposited back within the fat cell. This process creates by-products that then need to be flushed from our systems and excreted. If we are not properly hydrating then we will be retaining that excess fluid rather than getting rid of it! So you will feel squishy and bloated from the water retention and the scale won’t budge because your body can’t properly expel what’s left of the broken down fat cells.
Next I want to talk about the liver. The metabolism of fat occurs within the liver.What does that have to do with drinking water? Well, the liver is 96% water! If you are chronically dehydrated then the liver has to help the kidneys detoxify your body and thus can’t metabolize as much fat because it’s resources are otherwise occupied. So it is obviously in our best interest to stay well hydrated if you want the liver to be working optimally and metabolizing fat!
How much water do I need?
On average, we lose about 12 cups of water a day through perspiration, breathing, urine and bowel movements. In order to just maintain basic functions within the body, this is the amount you should aim to replenish everyday. If you are active or live in a hot climate this number should be higher. Individual needs will vary according to exercise intensity and duration, but an additional 2 to 4 cups of water should suffice. You will know that you are properly hydrated if your urine is clear or light yellow in colour. Feeling thirsty means you are already dehydrated so don’t let it get to that point! Drink water regularly throughout the day, without waiting until you feel thirsty. Increase water intake gradually, adding a cup or two a day over several days until you get to the recommended amount. This will allow your body to adapt without you having to run to the bathroom multiple times an hour!
This article was researched and written by Follow @DaraCoxPT
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