Have you come across the mantra: “Drink 8 Glasses Of Water A Day”? Have you wondered if drinking this amount of water can help you lose weight? Many people don’t understand the 8-glasses-a-day message and, by the way, what size are these glasses? It’s also banded around that drinking water can help with weight loss—but does that work? It’s all quite confusing. And so today, I’d like to explore this topic of drinking enough water with you.
One day, someone showed me a glass of water that was half full. And he said, “Is it half full or half empty?” So I drank the water. No more problem—Alexander Jodorowsky 🙂
Are you drinking enough water?
In a normal day—a day that is neither too hot or cold nor requires demanding physical work or sporting activities—our body loses 2.8 litres of water as follows: 1.5 litres of water in our urine, 750 ml in sweat, 400 ml on our breath and a 150 ml in our faeces. However, on this ‘normal’ day, we will also extract around 1 litre of water from our food and our body also makes around 300 ml of water during metabolism. The net loss is 1.5 litres of water a day which is why this is quoted as the minimum.
Remember though your body is unique. If you are tall, do heavy manual work, partake in sport, or are heavily overweight you may need up to 2 litres a day—and in exceptional circumstances maybe even slightly more than this. By contrast if you are short and petite you may need slightly less than the 1.5 litres minimum
Where does the idea ‘8 glasses-a-day’ come from?
I personally think using the concept of glasses is misleading. Glasses come in many shapes and sizes. These glasses in the photo all contain 200 ml of apple juice. If you were to fill and drink 8 of the tall tumbler or of the wide, squat tumbler with water you would be drinking more than 1.5 litres a day. If using a glass helps you keep track – measure your glass first, then you will know how much you have drunk. I personally prefer to pour my filtered water into a 750 ml glass bottle and have this by desk/bed/chair – and aim to drink 2 bottles a day.
Does drinking water help me lose weight?
Yes and no! Lets look at these:
- Many people live in a constant state of mild dehydration. The thirst mechanism kicks in when we have lost 1–2% of body water. But sometimes we mistake our thirst for hunger which can further exacerbate our dehydration. By ensuring that we are fully hydrated we are far less likely to mistake thirst for hunger and therefore help decrease overeating.
- Even mild dehydration can negatively impact on our body. It can lead to constipation which makes our digestive system less efficient. It can lead to lack of concentration, diminished physical energy levels and joint pain – all of which may make us more inclined to do less physical activity.
- A fully hydrated body lightens the load on the kidneys and liver. It used to be considered that this helped weight loss, but whilst hydration truly does help these organs, it doesn’t really impact on weight loss.
- We typically drink the same volume of liquid everyday. By replacing some, if not all of your fluids with water you will have usually reduced the sugar, artificial sweeteners, food additives and milk consumed. This is more likely to aide weight loss for it reduces the calories and the chemical load on your digestive system.
Water is boring: why can’t I just drink tea or coffee?
Caffeinated and alcoholic have a diuretic effect on the body—that is it makes the body lose water. Most of us have experienced this ‘dry-parched’ feeling the morning after an evening where more than usual alcohol was consumed. And whilst the effect is not quite so dramatic with coffee, tea or energy drinks, this effect is still taking place. In the past therefore it frequently advised that caffeinated and alcoholic drinks didn’t count as part of your water consumption even though they obviously contain a lot of water. Today it is known that regular coffee and tea drinkers lose only a small amount of the fluid ingested in these drinks. And even those only only consume caffeine periodically won’t lose more than 2/3rds of the water.
HOWEVER… before you go rushing off to put the kettle on, coffee and tea contain caffeine which is a stimulant which impacts your blood sugar levels, which in turn is counter-productive to weight loss. Alcohol also impacts on blood sugar levels. Regular tea contains tannins (as do some herbal teas) which, if drunk too soon after eating a meal, can make it harder for your body to digest protein. Energy drinks will have added sugar or artificial sweeteners as well as caffeine. Fruit juices contain high levels of natural sugars. And in your tea and coffee, do you add milk too—adding to your calorific intake in a drink?
Fruit, herbal and Red Bush teas are naturally caffeine free – so these can count to your water intake. But best of all and by far, is water. You can liven it up with a slice of lemon, lime or even ginger. And sometimes have sparkling water as a treat. Surprisingly, after you have become accustomed to water – you notice the days when you don’t drink enough—and you may like me, one day even crave it 🙂
Eat Well—Be Well 🙂
P.S. Please do check out my EatWell—BeWell programs for the healthy way to lose weight and stay slim.