Hydration for Overall Health and Weight Loss
By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD
With so much focus on eating healthy and exercising to lose weight, hydration often gets overlooked. Drinking adequate amounts of water is just as important as choosing balanced meals and adding movement into your daily routine. Not only does water play a pivotal role in bodily functions, drinking enough of it may prevent overeating and improve metabolism.
Water makes up the majority of the body, and is necessary for flushing out waste, regulating temperature, and carrying oxygen and nutrients to organs. Staying hydrated ensures that your body can perform these activities. When you are dehydrated, your body is not functioning at its best, which may even prevent weight loss.
Hydration for weight loss
Drinking enough water prevents your body from confusing thirst and hunger cues. You may feel the same way when you are thirsty as you do when you are hungry. If you feel hungry between meals, try drinking a glass of water and waiting 20 minutes to see if the feeling passes. This is an effective strategy to avoid unnecessary snacking.
On a similar note, staying hydrated can prevent overeating at meal times. Drinking a glass of water before you sit down to eat may help you feel full more quickly. Water also aids in digestion, and drinking enough water ensures that your body can process fiber from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.
Drinking water may also improve metabolism. In one study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, drinking approximately two cups of water increased metabolic rate by 30% within 10 minutes! When your body’s metabolism is functioning at its best, you may be more successful with losing weight.
Meeting fluid needs
Daily water needs vary between persons, but a good rule to live by is to drink enough fluid to maintain pale yellow urine. Feeling thirsty can be a sign that you are already dehydrated. Keep in mind that if you increase your activity, your fluid needs will also increase.
Drinking plain water is a wonderful way to stay hydrated, but there are several other ways to increase your fluid intake. These include adding frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables to plain water, such as frozen strawberries, cucumber, and mint, or drinking naturally flavored seltzer.
Eating can also help you stay hydrated! Certain fruits and vegetables have a high water content. Hydrating foods include cucumbers, grapefruit, watermelon, vegetable soups, celery, and strawberries.
Combined with nutritionally complete meals and physical activity, staying hydrated can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Sources: Boschmann M, Steiniger J, Hille U, Tank J, Adams F, Sharma AM, Klaus S, Luft FC & J Jordan. 2003. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 88:12:6015-6019, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2003-030780.
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