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The Importance of Water and Staying Hydrated

Our bodies are made up of approximately 83% of water. Water is used in every cell, organ and tissue of our body helping to regulate your body temperature and maintain normal functioning.

We lose water all the time through breathing, sweating, digestion and other natural bodily functions so it is important to keep hydrated. I know from personal experience that being dehydrated I feel sluggish, tired, lack concentration, my body doesn’t want to do very much, training is hard, everything feels a real effort and I usually start to get a headache.

A 10% loss of water can be fatal, and without water the average life expectancy is around 3-4 days. Achieving optimum hydration should be high on everyone’s list of priorities and if you are trying to lose weight, reduce fat or promote lean muscle mass it is important to keep hydrated.

The benefits of water for Weight Management are second to none....

Water reduces hunger – When we are thirsty we may start to feel hungry, this is because you also get fluid from food. Rather than having something to eat, take some water first as your body could be dehydrated rather than hungry. Staying hydrated will make it easier to eat moderately.

Flushes out toxins – Water helps the functioning of our kidneys and liver. The more effective these organs are at eliminating waste and toxins, the greater the weight loss we will see.

Joint and muscle lubrication – Water helps lubricate and cushion our joints, protecting them from shock. The more hydrated we are the healthier our tissues are likely to be. Our muscles are predominantly made up of water and proteins, the healthier our muscle tissues are the more inclined we are to move and exercise.

Cellular metabolism – Water is involved in every chemical reaction in our body. Optimal hydration increases cellular metabolism and potentially the burning of fat.

Increase in energy level – When we are dehydrated our blood thickens making it difficult for blood to be pumped around the body, which makes the brain less active. Fatigue sets in and you will be less motivated to move or exercise.

So as you can see there are many benefits of staying hydrated, but how do we know how much water we should be consuming. Many Fitness Professionals recommend 2litres of water a day, this is a start as many people have under that anyway, however for optimal hydration levels the recommendations are 0.033ml of water per kilogram of body weight. So if I am 72kg x 0.033ml = 2.37litres a day.

These figures are based on you just going about your day to day work and life, if we exercise for 1 hour we should look at increasing our water intake by 500ml, this is dependant of heat and exercise intensity.

Many clients ask me if tea, coffee and fizzy drinks count towards our water intake. Unfortunately the side effects of these drinks have a negative effect on weight loss and our energy levels. Increases in caffeine increase cortisol levels (a stress hormone), and excessive caffeine can lead to fatigue and can cause energy crashes. Fizzy drinks also have a high sugar content, even diet ones which usually have the sugar replaced with sweeteners, leading to energy swings and fat storage.

So my recommendations to get more water into your day to day life would be –

  • Have a glass of water when you first wake up, this will replenish water loss during the night.

  • Have a glass of water before bed.

  • Limit coffee to 2 a day and limit or cut out fizzy drinks.

  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables as they contain a good amount of water.

  • Take a bottle of water with you everywhere you go – work, in the car, to the gym, shopping etc.

  • Flavour water with fresh lemons or limes (or any other fruit) to keep it interesting.

  • Fill a 2 litre water bottle first thing in the morning and aim to finish this by the end of the day.

Staying hydrated is essential for our health and well being as well as helping us lose weight and keep our energy levels high. Stay hydrated.

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