Stay Slimmer With Water
Trying to lose weight? Water revs up metabolism and helps you feel full.
Replace calorie-laden beverages with water, and drink a glass before meals to help you feel fuller. Drinking more water also helps amp up metabolism - especially if your glass is icy cold. Your body must work to warm the water up, burning a few extra calories in the process.
Water Boosts Your Energy
If you’re feeling drained and depleted, get a pick-me-up with water. Dehydration makes you feel fatigued.
Water helps the blood transport oxygen and other essential nutrients to your cells.
If you’re getting enough water, your heart also doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body.
Lower Stress With Water
85% of your brain tissue is water. If you’re dehydrated, both your body and your mind will be stressed. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already a little dehydrated.
To keep stress levels down, keep a glass of water at your desk or tote a sports bottle and sip regularly.
Build Muscle Tone With Water
Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramping and lubricates joints in the body.
When you’re well hydrated, you can exercise longer and stronger without "hitting the wall."
Nourish Your Skin
Fine lines and wrinkles are deeper when you’re dehydrated. Water is nature’s own beauty cream.
Drinking water hydrates skin cells and plumps them up, making your face look younger.
It also flushes out impurities and improves circulation and blood flow, leaving your face clean, clear, and glowing.
Stay Regular With Water
Along with fiber, water is essential to good digestion.
Water helps dissolve waste particles and passes them smoothly through your digestive tract.
If you’re dehydrated, your body absorbs all the water, leaving your colon dry and making it more difficult to pass waste.
Water Reduces Kidney Stones
The rate of painful kidney stones is rising because people - including children - aren't drinking enough water.
Water dilutes the salts and minerals in your urine that form the solid crystals known as kidney stones.
Kidney stones can't form in diluted urine, so reduce your risk with plenty of water!
Are You Drinking Enough Water?
Generally, nutritionists recommend we follow the "8x8 rule."
Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
You may need more water if you exercise or sweat heavily.
You may need less water if you drink other beverages often.
Water and Your Diet: Staying Slim and Regular With H2O
Find out if you're getting enough water to keep your metabolism cranking at peak efficiency and your digestive system functioning well.
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ve probably heard a lot about water and weight loss. Can drinking more water really help you lose weight? The short answer is yes -- and no.
If you’re already well hydrated and getting plenty of water, getting more water into your diet probably won’t make a lot of difference. But if you’re going through your days a little -- or a lot -- dehydrated, as many people are, getting enough water could help.
“In my experience, most people are not aware of how much they’re drinking and are not drinking enough -- many, as little as half of what they need,” says Amanda Carlson, RD, director of performance nutrition at Athletes’ Performance, which trains many world-class athletes.
How Water Boosts Metabolism
“Water’s involved in every type of cellular process in your body, and when you’re dehydrated, they all run less efficiently -- and that includes your metabolism. Think of it like your car: if you have enough oil and gas, it will run more efficiently. It’s the same with your body.”
“Your metabolism is basically a series of chemical reactions that take place in your body,” says Trent Nessler, PT, DPT, MPT, managing director of Baptist Sports Medicine in Nashville. “Staying hydrated keeps those chemical reactions moving smoothly.” Being even 1% dehydrated can cause a significant drop in metabolism.
Hungry or Thirsty? How Water Helps a Diet
It’s also very difficult for the body to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. So if you’re walking around feeling a gnawing sense of hunger, you might just be dehydrated. Try drinking a glass of water instead of grabbing a snack.
Research has also shown that drinking a glass of water right before a meal helps you to feel more full and eat less. “Many people do find that if they have water before a meal, it’s easier to eat more carefully,” says Renee Melton, MS, RD, LD, director of nutrition for Sensei, a developer of online and mobile weight loss and nutrition programs.
One study, for example, found that people who drank water before meals ate an average of 75 fewer calories at each meal. That doesn’t sound like a lot -- but multiply 75 calories by 365 days a year. Even if you only drink water before dinner every day, you’d consume 27,000 fewer calories over the course of the year. That’s almost an eight-pound weight loss.
The Digestive Health Benefits of Water
But getting enough water doesn’t just help you regulate how much you eat -- it helps you digest it properly, as well.
“Water allows your kidneys to function properly and filter everything they need to, and allows us to eliminate effectively and not be constipated,” Melton says. “People who don’t get enough fluids in their diet tend to be constipated.”
And that’s not all. The single biggest cause of painful kidney stones is chronic dehydration. When you don’t get enough water, calcium and other minerals build up in your urine and are harder for your body to filter out. They can form the crystals that make up kidney and urinary stones.
Doctors who specialize in pediatric kidney problems report seeing more kidney stones in children in recent years, and they believe it’s because of a combination of factors. Many kids aren’t drinking enough water. Also, many kids are overweight and eat a poor diet.
“I’ve been in this field for over 30 years, and I’d say that until about the last 10 to 15 years, you almost never saw stones in kids,” says Robert Weiss, MD, chief of pediatric nephrology at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital of the Westchester Medical Center in New York. “Lately, the frequency is increasing dramatically.”
How Much Water Do You Need?
How can you know if you’re getting enough water to keep your metabolism cranking at peak efficiency and your digestive system functioning? The formula used to be “one size fits all” -- eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. But that’s changed, experts say.
“It depends on your size and weight, and also on your activity level and where you live,” Nessler says. “In general, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day.” For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. If you’re living in a hot climate and exercising a lot, you’d be on the higher end of that range; if you’re in a cooler climate and mostly sedentary, you’d need less.
Another quick way to check: look in the bowl after you’ve gone to the bathroom. If your urine is clear or very light yellow and has little odor, you’re well hydrated. The darker and more aromatic your urine, the more dehydrated you are.
How can you build more water consumption into your day? Try these tips:
- Carry an insulated sports bottle with you and fill it up periodically.
- Keep a glass of water on your desk at work.
- Keep another glass next to your bed. Many of us wake up dehydrated first thing in the morning.
- Switch one glass of soda or cup of coffee for a glass of water.
- Drink small amounts of water throughout the day. Six glasses all at once isn’t good for you!