Hydration for Optimal Health and Fat Loss
Posted on 19th July 2016 at 14:45
3 understated reasons to stay hydrated for optimal health and fat loss.
Water is the body’s most non-negotiable nutrient.
Withhold any other vitamin or mineral for a week or more and the body will plug along. But deny it water for a mere three days and systems start to crash.
As the brain is around 95% water, blood 82% and lungs nearly 90%, this should come as no great surprise. Water is also the single most critical nutrient for physical health, growth, and development.
But what actually is it about water that makes it so essential for optimal body composition and health?
As every cell in the body is comprised of water, water inevitably plays a central role in nearly every single biological process within our bodies. At a basic biochemical level, if your cells aren’t working and functioning optimally, you can’t be in good health and you certainly won’t be able to change positively your body composition and drop that excess fat.
With water being such a life and death nutrient, why do so many of us take it for granted? What can increasing your water intake to a more optimal range actually do for you and how do you start ensuring you are getting enough?
Here are 3 crucial ways water help with optimal fat loss.
1) Help you build muscle
As stated earlier, your blood is some 82% water and is , essentially, your bodies nutrient transport highway. As a result, optimal blood flow is needed to transport nutrients around your body and to your cells where they go through the chemical processes to actually be utilized by the body. Inevitably, your body will soon let you know about it if there is any interruption to the optimal circulation of blood.
No matter how much protein you are consuming if your body can’t get what it needs from the food into the cell it’s essentially useless.
If proteins are the building blocks for building muscle and your body is the temple you are trying to renovate, then think of your blood as the highway that will carry the raw materials needed to the building site. If you are dehydrated, then the highway will essentially become gridlocked and your building site will have nothing to build your temple with.
Also, failure to optimally hydrate will affect the movement and flexibility of your muscles. Since muscles are controlled by nerves, without the proper water and electrolyte balance, muscle strength and control will also be impaired, potentially leading to cramp.
All this means that it is essential that you stay hydrated if you want to build muscle and experience optimal performance in the gym.
2) Optimal Digestive Function
Our bodies produce an average of 7 litres of digestive juices daily. If we don’t drink enough water, our secretions are more limited and the digestive process becomes inhibited. Similar to the point made above, if your body is unable to digest, breakdown and absorb the food you are eating, then no matter how good your diet, the food you consume won’t get to the cells and is wasted effort.
Water is also critical for keeping your toilet habits regular. This is something that is always addressed with my clients during the initial consultation. If you’re not going for a poo at least once a day, then food and toxins that your body is trying to excrete will just sit there. The longer they sit there the greater the chances that your body will re-absorb the waste you are trying to get rid of. Ever fancied picking through the bin and re eating yesterday’s leftovers? Didn’t think so, but that’s what your body is doing if you leave food sat there.
This happens because as partially digested food passes through the colon, the colon absorbs excess liquid and transfers it to the bloodstream so that a stool of normal consistency is formed. When the body is low on water, it extracts too much liquid from the stool, which then becomes hard, dry and difficult to eliminate. Slowed elimination contributes to body wide toxicity and inflammation as your body re-absorbs the waste.
3) Hunger Management and Energy Slumps
The old wives’ tale of ‘feeling thirsty can be confused with hunger’. Well, it turns out that this could actually be true. Dehydration induced fatigue is often misinterpreted as lack of energy, with carb cravings normally following. The body, thinking that it needs energy, will send signals for you to get energy; the quickest way it knows how is to signal for you to grab something sugary.
Suboptimal hydration can also lead to poor cognitive function due to the body’s inability to activate certain enzymes within the body that are responsible for the production of energy. Remember we talked about cells needing water? This is one reason why cell hydration is so critical – the production of ATP (the body’s energy currency) needs water as the process takes place within the cell. Lack of ATP leads to a slower metabolism and will reduce your ability to burn fat and exercise efficiently.
3 Ways to ensure optimal hydration
1) Start each day with a pint of water (no ice).
Drink it down before you have your morning coffee. It will help replace fluids lost overnight and get your hydration efforts off to a good start. Drinking water before breakfast will also help prime the digestive system and get the ‘juices flowing’, and, as we learned, digestive health is key to fat loss and optimal health.
2) Substitute soda and fruit juice.
While it’s true that all beverages count toward your daily tally, the sugar in regular soda and fruit juice, as well as the chemicals in diet versions, can trigger a host of unwanted reactions in the body, including blood-sugar spikes. Don’t try and trick the body, give it what it needs – pure filtered water!
3) Carry a reusable, BPA free, water bottle.
I personally walk around with a 2ltr reusable water bottle that looks like the top of a water machine found in most offices. It’s a good conversation starter and it allows me to track how much water I have drank. Rather than filling up 8-10 glasses I simply fill my big bottle 2-3 times and I know exactly how much I have drunk.
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