OMG. A blog post about water. So original. I know. I know. Save your negative thoughts about how basic this post may be. I wouldn’t be talking about it if it didn’t come up in conversation on a daily basis. This may seem like an obvious topic and not at all original for a blog post. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common questions I get asked by clients. Usually the question is framed in a leading manner; “I don’t really have to be drinking all that much water, do I?” YES. YOU. DO.
Water is an essential element of health. It is so important that our body has a special mechanism to ensure your survival during times when water intake becomes scarce. Without water we would quickly perish in just a few days. Two-thirds of the human body is composed of water. Most of that water is found in our organs. The human brain, lungs, and blood consist of 95%, 90%, and 82% water respectively. A 2% decrease in water supply is enough to trigger dehydration and we begin to feel the effects: foggy memory, blurry or unfocused vision, headaches, and muscle cramps are all early signs. Water is so essential for our bodies yet seventy-five percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. This is ironic considering we live in a world where water is at our fingertips through the tap and bottled water. We do not live in a country where our access to clean, safe drinking water is limited.
Every cell in the body depends on water for basic physiological function. Water is a lubricant for our gastrointestinal tract and aids in digestion. Water also lubricates our joints and cartilage just like oil lubricates the moving parts of an engine. And just like lack of oil will cause premature wear on an engine, dehydration can lead to excess friction and joint pain. It regulates body temperature by promoting sweat production and secretion. Without this we would overheat and die. Water helps to remove harmful toxins from the body and maintain proper pH. Not drinking enough water will put excess strain on kidneys and liver to clear toxins from the body. Water even helps with fat metabolism making it necessary for fat loss.
How much water should I drink? The old rule of thumb is that you need to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. This is a one size fits all approach and not specific to individuals. In reality, you need to be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces. For example, a 150 lb. adult who is moderately active needs to consume at least 75 ounces of water per day just to maintain normal bodily functions. During exercise it is recommended that you consume an additional 8 ounces of water for every pound you lose on the scale during your workout. So if you weigh yourself before and after exercising and notice that you lost 2 lbs you need to drink an extra 16 ounces of water. Keep in mind that it is possible to fluctuate several pounds in a day due to water loss especially if you live in a dry climate.
Can I drink coffee or iced tea instead? Not really. If you weigh over 300 lbs then, yes any fluid intake is beneficial. Coffee and tea are actually diuretics, meaning they promote fluid loss and will make you excrete more fluid in your urine. Various teachers and Registered Dietitian have told me that you can count these other substances as fluid intake as long as the amount is moderate and customary. This means that if you drink one cup of coffee (8 ounces) a day and you do this every day, your body becomes used to it and doesn’t create a diuretic effect. However, many people tend to abuse this rule so it is still best to start your day with a glass of water. As I mentioned before, water helps with fat loss and metabolic function so if your goal has a component of weight loss avoid other fluids and stick to water.
Drink up, buttercup. Drinking water is really not that difficult when you make the effort. Get yourself a large container and track how much water you are drinking everyday. You might be shocked how little water you are actually drinking. Bottom line: start drinking that shit like you are sponsored by it. Or as if your life depends on it., because it does.