Numerous studies over the years have shown the many benefits of drinking water, with the most salient one being the prevention of, or the alleviation of dehydration and its insidious side effects. However, it is its purported efficacy on weight loss, or rather more importantly fat loss, that has people closely reexamining their relationship with drinking water.
There is no doubt about the significance of water, especially when we consider that our bodies are comprised of 40-65% water, depending upon our body composition. Fat weight is 18-26% water, whereas muscle is comprised of approximately 72% water. So, the more muscle that we have, the more water that there is in our bodies. Therefore, diets and activities that result in excessive fluid loss will have a significant affect on muscle size, and therefore weight.
However, this weight loss, due to dehydration, should be viewed negatively because of the detrimental effect that is has on athletic performance and metabolic functioning. In other words, dehydration adversely affects our bodies' ability to burn calories both in the short term and long term. It is readily apparent how this is so in the short term, but let us examine the negative effects of dehydration on long term metabolic functioning.
Due to dehydration, the body attempts to store as much water as possible, most of it subcutaneously. This retained water becomes contaminated since your kidneys can't filter out the contaminants properly when you are dehydrated. The liver is then called upon to help process and dispose of the contaminants, which interferes with one of its other main functions, which is breaking down body fat. So, without sufficient water in your body, you are likely to end up bloated, and obese.
The obvious solution then is to remain properly hydrated, but what that entails is unknown to many people. The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) recommends that the average adult female consume at least 72 ounces (9 cups) of water daily and the average male at least 104 ounces (13cups) each day. However, further consideration should be given to strenuous exercise and warm climate, which could necessitate an additional 60 ounces of water intake.
Proper hydration has an added thermogenic effect, burning as much as an additional 100 calories daily. It improves endocrine gland as well as liver functions, increasing the percentage of fat used for energy. The short and long term benefits of hydration are a boon for our attempts to lose fat. So drink--to your health.
Bob Wells is a nationally certified personal trainer, as well as a former Division I athlete and coach. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.