If you're anything like me, drinking water isn't always an easy task. When I first started my weight loss journey I had to literally set alarm reminders to drink water. Why didn't I give the necessity of drinking enough water a serious thought before that is beyond me, ha! Alarms aren't exactly handy when you're working and can't access your phone, so in this blog I'm going to give you 5 tips on how to befriend this wonderful liquid.
Before that, I would love to share with you some interesting facts. Water molecules help form the structure of other molecules such as protein and glycogen, just to name a couple. Water is crucial for digestion because it acts as a solvent for vitamins, minerals, amino acids, glucose and other nutrients. It helps our bodies digest, absorb and utilize essential nutrients, transport waste out of our bodies and contribute in proper function of other body components, for example our joints.
Water can help you lose weight and stay lean. You may be asking how? Well, one of the liver's functions is to promote energy production through stored fat, which can promote weight loss. When we don't drink enough water, the kidneys need some extra help from other organs. That's when the liver jumps in, but this action compromises the energy production function of the liver, and therefore your weight loss progress is compromised too. Drinking artificial drinks don't count as water, and the liver will have to work hard on those artificial colourings and flavours. You may find that you will start having trouble with your liver if you consume these drinks on a daily basis and in high quantity. A simple switch from these drinks may help improve your liver health. More details on this and natural remedies will follow in a future blog post.
Water is found in large quantities in our muscles and in little quantities in fat, skin and parts of the bones. This is just one of the reasons why I promote resistance training to all my clients. It promotes muscle growth and through that you will be able to become more hydrated (there are way more benefits). On the other hand, if you are dehydrated you will find it more difficult to perform activities that require a good amount of energy, such as but not limited to resistance training. Why? Muscle contraction comes as a result of exchange of minerals dissolved in water. Like with everything else, our bodies are miraculous things and can self-regulate, but to ensure proper and healthy function we need to chip in with effort as well. In this case, ensure we drink sufficient water daily.
We feel thirsty when we've lost approximately 2% of our body weight in water. This means we're already dehydrated when we feel thirsty. Our strength decreases by 21% when we lose 2-4% of our body weight in water, and in aerobic activities this decrease in strength can reach 48%. Aerobic activities can even mean fast paced walking. Without getting too much into more technical terms, if your goal is to build muscle, to perform various aerobic activities and improve general health, water scheduling should be on your planning chart.
Even more, if you're water deficient, this affects your joint and spine health right away. Think long term. Water is important in maintaining optimal health throughout our bodies. Our heart health, kidneys and other organs can be seriously affected by the lack of it and we may risk the development of other illnesses and diseases. When we're young our body functions do their thing by themselves but as we age, our body needs our support to maintain good health. Water lubricates joints. More on bone and joint health to follow in a future blog post.
Some of the symptoms of dehydration are head aches, lethargy, fatigue and can leave you feeling light-headed, less often urination and dark colour urine. This brings us to understand that hydration also benefits mental performance. Drinking more water than usual is important when we exercise, when the weather is warmer than usual and also when we are going through our menstrual cycle.
How much water should I drink?
Most fruits and veg contain between 75 to 90% water, meat contains approximately 50-70%, while juices and milk contain more than 85%. So according to this we may intake approximately 1L of water daily from food alone. There's a catch. This is only true if we have a balanced DAILY diet. It's not enough to experience a balanced diet once in a while.
In order to know how much water we should be drinking daily, we should also look at how much water we lose. And like with other areas, I don't really believe in a 'one size fits all' type of approach, because I believe we are unique individuals with unique needs. It's great to have a general idea or guidance of what we can do to help ourselves, but I also highly recommend you should look further for something that would suit your personal needs better. The amount of water we lose daily depends on our climate, level of activity, how much we perspire and our size, more specifically our weight. Check your urine, how often you urinate and what colour it is. It should be light in colour, light as a straw if we were to be specific, and it should look like a strong brewed tea. The usual recommendation is 2-3L per day. If you want to be more specific, check your weight in pounds, then calculate half of that in ounces and that's your daily recommended amount. This, of course, will vary if you have an active gym or sports life, or if you live in a hot area, as you will lose more water through perspiration. In this case up the amount.
You could weigh yourself naked before and after exercise (only because sweat drenched clothes would show an inaccurate number) to see how much weight you've lost, and this way you can tell how much water you lose during exercise. Make sure you start your exercise routine already hydrated, otherwise the loss of water would be even bigger. Sore throat, hoarse voice and dry cough could also be signs of dehydration.
In this blog I'm going to keep water as a general topic, but I will bring another article that looks more into hydration for active individuals, those individuals who are performing more intense activities and those who are looking to build their body. I'll also be touching on overhydration, because yeah, that's a thing too!
LEARN TO LOVE WATER WITH THESE 5 STEPS
1. Choosing your water
If you're reading this, I could probably safely assume you don't like the taste of water. Look at your water choice and source. Are you drinking from the tap? If so, you have two options that would help. First, you could buy bottled water. With concerns over water contamination, we can't help but wonder what we're actually drinking. The taste might be a sign that your tap water isn't as pure as you'd like it to be. There are water tests you could buy online, which will show you what your water consists of.
Buying bottled water can be daunting as there are so many options out there. It's important to read the label before you make the purchase. I highly recommend buying still mineral water. Why? Because it contains more minerals than other waters, and these are nature's way to replenish us. The pH is also important, so try to buy water that has a pH value of 6.5-8.5. High pH water has a slippery feel and tastes a bit like baking soda, while low pH water may have a bitter or metallic taste. The pH of pure water is 7. Water with pH lower than this is considered acidic and the one with bigger pH than 7 is considered basic.
Watch out for the so-called 'designer water'. These are 'enhanced' waters, whether they claim to be fortified waters, that they're oxygen-enriched, they're 'fitness water', electrolyzed water, herbal water, fruity water, always read the labels. Most fruit 'infused' waters contain as much sugar or sweeteners as regular fizzy juices.
If you are mindful of the environment and try to cut down on plastic, you could choose water bottled in glass recipients. A second option which is cheaper but as effective, would be to filter your tap water. You can get a water filter in basically any store these days.
2. Fancy it up
Get excited about buying a new water bottle! I has been proven that by getting a recipient that's visually appealing, individuals were more likely to drink more water. Make sure your cup or bottle is BPA free. Alternatively, you can opt for glass water bottles. I prefer these because they're more natural, therefore less harmful for our bodies and environment. Below are some of my favorites. You can find them on Amazon and the prices range between £10-£15 at the moment of this blog post. TK MAXX also have them and I've got a pretty cute one with a lot of mindfulness words on the protective silicone sleeve.
3. Natural flavours
You can make your drink even more beautiful when you slice up some fruit and veg in there. Not to mention you get totally natural and delicious flavors, and natural sugars. During summer, you could cut your fruit and veg into cubes and pop them in your ice making tray with some water. Not only do they look pretty, but they also taste nice and cool your water down. Combine this with a fancy serving bottle and we have a win! You could combine lemon and cucumber, Strawberry and mint, the possibilities are endless, really! Some retailers make the infuser tray long, claiming this way every drop of water will get a bit of fruit flavor. Problem with this is that if the tray is too long it will cut away room for more water. I'd choose a shorter tray, since you can literally shake your bottle to mix the fruit juices with the rest of the water. Whichever you choose, be mindful of the daily amount you need. The bottles below range from BPA free to glass. Just a couple to give you an idea. Prices range from £5-£15. Most of them have approximately 1L capacity.
4. The 10 gulp rule
This one I've learned from an excellent trainer. It's easy to start with small sips throughout the day, but the 10 gulp rule really helps you to get through the daily required amount, without reaching the end of the day with lots to drink still. It's not too much or too little to drink all at once. Every time you bring your bottle or glass to your mouth, take 10 good gulps. Takes some getting used to, but you'll ace it in no time.
5. Set alarms
It really is worth setting alarms. If you can't have your phone ringing every so often at work, simply enable the vibration option on your phone or smart watch if you have one. After a couple weeks you'll find yourself more aware of the time and particularly drinking water. Be consistent and you will create this new habit in no time.
Remember, limitations only exist in the mind, so it's up to you to get serious about this. YOU CAN drink water. See past excuses and decide to take this new and important step towards better health. If you're part of my 'Beat your cravings program', you are well aware of keeping a jounal, and I highly recommend you start with a 'wins' chart. Mark your daily wins on there and add your daily water intake success on there.
I hope this was helpful. Get started now! You can do it! We'd love to hear about your progress, bumps in the road and your wins, so let's connect on social media!! Share this with a friend and get them to join you in this journey!
And if you liked this article and would like to receive weekly newsletter with our newest blog posts, sign up to our mailing list!
Until next time, don't forget to #fly!