Clare's Blog

H2O, Agua, L'eau, Acqua, Water

Most of you have probably made some sort of New Year's Resolution relating to improving your health, fitness and energy level. What if there was ONE thing you could do to improve all three? You already know what it is, but we all need a reminder every once in a while. Drink water! Eight, 8 oz. glasses per day for the average adult is what is commonly recommended.

Why? The functions of water in the human body are vital. Water transports nutrients and oxygen to the cells, thus increasing energy; it moisturizes the air in the lungs, protects our vital organs, moisturizes our joints, helps our body absorb nutrients and detoxifies our bodies. The brain consists of 90% water; you could significantly increase brain functions just by drinking enough water. Proper hydration can eliminate headaches and that fuzzy fatigued feeling you may experience late in the afternoon.

Water has been proven to be the most powerful diet tool. Drinking water before each meal has been shown to help promote weight loss. Brenda Davy, PhD, an associate professor of Nutrition at Virginia Tech and author of a new study, says that drinking just two 8-ounce glasses of water before meals helps people melt pounds away. One group drank two cups of water before meals and the other didn't. All participants ate a low-calorie diet throughout the study. After 12 weeks, water drinkers lost about 15.5 pounds, compared to non-water drinking dieters, who lost only 11 pounds. Water gives a dieter a full feeling in their stomach and results in fewer calories consumed. It also allows the body to absorb the nutrients from the food, which reduces cravings for more food if the body is lacking certain vitamins and minerals.

Does proper hydration increase your metabolism? No and yes. The only way to increase your metabolism is to increase muscle mass. Muscle tissue is about 25 times more metabolically active than fat tissue, so an additional two pounds of muscle burns up to 100 additional calories per day. 75% of muscle is water, so drinking plenty of fluid helps the muscle to strengthen when you do strength training exercises. (think PILATES).

For those of you who want to look good as well as feel good, hydrating from the inside out can help the skin to feel soft, reduce the appearance of fine facial lines and minimizes dry, cracked lips. Ironically, proper hydrationa ctually reduces that bloated feeling by "washing" out water that is retained in the body. The body recognizes that it is consistently being hydrated and therefore doesn't react by holding on to additional fluid. It also helps to eliminate excess sodium in our body so that we don't retain water from salt intake.

Seems simple enough, so why don't we all do it? Practically, in a busy day, who can handle the inevitable side effect of frequent trips to the bathroom? If you have a two-hour conference call, a deadline to meet or back-to-back appointments, getting up to use the restroom can be unproductive and disruptive. Here's the solution: nobody said when you had to drink the water! Drink a glass when you wake up in the morning and sip more on the way to work. Drink a glass before lunch and have water rather than other beverages during lunch (we're half way there!). Drink more on the way home from work, another glass before and during dinner, and a final glass before bed. Centering your water drinking around meal time will allow your body to process it before the productive time of your day ensues and helps to reduce the amount you eat at each meal.

By: Clare Westwood