Blog: Healthy Eating = Healthy Living - Lose weight the right wa...
by OntheBorder

9. Why water is essential

Water helps fat loss - How much you need

Date:   4/9/2009 12:26:34 PM   ( 10 y ) ... viewed 1625 times

A little known secret for accelerating fat loss, increasing your performance and improving your physique

I'd like to let you in on a little known secret for increasing your performance and improving your physique that is so painfully obvious it's almost embarrassing. Actually it's not really even a "secret." It would be more correct to say it's a "known but ignored fact." When I tell you what this secret is, you'll kick yourself for not realizing it sooner. This "secret" I'm talking about is drinking the correct amount of H2O every single day. Yep - plain old water!

The often subtle but devastating effects of dehydration

Most people don't drink nearly enough water, and the effects are subtle but devastating to your training and fat burning efforts. Let me explain. Did you ever wake up in the morning and feel so groggy it almost felt like a hangover? Maybe you didn't even want to get out of bed. Guess what? You were probably dehydrated. In fact, a "hangover" - headache, tiredness, and fatigue is partially caused by the dehydration from the diuretic effects of alcohol.

Here's another example: Do you normally get excellent workouts, but then some days, your butt is dragging and you just can't finish your workout - you "bonk out" at the end, or even worse, you can't really even get started? Guess what? You were probably dehydrated. You see, the effects of dehydration are very subtle. They "creep" up on you. By the time you feel any effects of dehydration, it's too late - you're already dehydrated. Usually you don't even associate these effects with lack of water. You might think you're just over-worked, you didn't get enough sleep or you're coming down with a cold. That's why people so easily overlook this aspect of nutrition.

Every physiological process in your body depends on water

Because there's so much attention placed today on complex issues such as protein and carbohydrate intake, essential fatty acids, macronutrient ratios and high-performance supplements, it's no wonder that something as simple as water could be so easily taken for granted. The importance of drinking plenty of water and keeping adequately hydrated cannot be emphasized enough.

Water is the most abundant nutrient in your body. Approximately 60-70% of your body is comprised of water. Your blood is made up of about 90% water. Your muscles are about 70% water. Even your bones are 20% water. Without adequate water, nothing in your body could function properly. Every physiological process in your body takes place in water or depends on water. Water is necessary to regulate your body's temperature, to transport nutrients, and to build tissues. Water is required for joint lubrication, digestion, circulation, respiration, absorption, and excretion. Without water, you would die in a matter of days.

Water is essential to the fat burning process

Not only do you need plenty of water for good health, you also need water to lose fat. Here's why: One of the important functions of your kidneys is to eliminate toxic waste products from your body through the urine. When you're dehydrated, the body's instinctive reaction is to hold on to whatever water it does have in order to survive. When this water retention occurs, the waste products in the body aren't flushed out, and build up in your system. At this point, the liver will try to help out with the overload. The problem is, when the liver helps out during fluid retention, it can't do its own jobs as efficiently, one of which is burning stored body fat for energy. The result is that your body may not be able to burn body fat as efficiently as normal.

Drinking lots of water does not make you retain water

Many people avoid drinking a lot of water because they think it will make them retain fluid and become bloated. Actually, the opposite is true. When you're dehydrated, your body senses the lack of adequate water and holds on to all the water that's currently in the body. When you consume adequate amounts of water, your body senses that you're no longer dehydrated, and therefore your kidneys flush the water out of your system like they normally do, resulting in less water retention.

How much should you drink?

The most common general guideline for water intake is to drink eight to ten 8-oz glasses of water per day (64-80 oz per day). This may or may not be adequate, depending on a variety of factors. The 8 to 10 glasses guideline is okay as a ballpark, but taking into account activity levels and caloric expenditure will give you an even more accurate and individualized estimate of your water needs.

Water needs may vary depending on a number of factors. Large individuals need more water than smaller people, and highly active individuals need more than those who are inactive. Climate can also affect your hydration needs. If you live or work out in a hot and humid environment your water requirements will be higher.

If you want the best estimate of your water needs, you should factor in your activity level and the best way to measure your activity level is by daily calorie expenditure.

The following chart lists the required water amount based on your total daily energy expenditure (IDEE) (Review the chapter on caloric needs to determine your IDEE).

Calories expended Water required
2000 calories 66 – 100 oz.
2500 calories 83 – 124 oz.
3000 calories 100 – 149 oz.
4000 calories 116 – 174 oz.
5000 calories 132 – 199 oz.

Using this formula, a 172 pound man with a daily calorie expenditure of approximately 2800 calories per day would need 93 - 139 oz of water per day (There are 128 ounces in a gallon). The eight to ten glasses guideline (64 to 80 ounces) should be your minimum regardless of calories expended.

Follow these water consumption guidelines regardless of your level of thirst

Your level of thirst is not a good indicator of your level of hydration. By the time your body registers the sensation of thirst, you're already somewhat dehydrated. Therefore, you should continue drinking water throughout the day, even when you're not thirsty. The secret is not to let yourself get dehydrated in the first place. If in doubt, drink more, not less.

Drink water before, during and after your workout

You should make it a habit to drink water all day long, but because water is so important for energy production and because exercise dehydrates you, you should make it a habit to drink heavily before, during and after your workout.

Alcohol and fat-burning

If you're serious about your health, fitness, and athletic performance and you want the maximum possible benefit from your program, you should drink alcoholic beverages in moderation or not at all. "Moderation" is usually defined as one drink for women, two drinks for men.

Alcohol has the second highest calorie density of all food types

At 7 calories per gram, Alcohol is the 2nd most calorie dense nutrient behind fat, which contains 9 calories per gram. Therefore, alcohol contributes a large number of calories to your total daily intake above and beyond the food you normally consume. Because the alcohol is metabolized by the liver, the alcohol is not converted directly into body fat. But this doesn't mean that drinking alcohol won't make you fat.

Alcohol suppresses the body's ability to burn body fat

The body has no storage capacity for alcohol like it does for carbohydrates and fats. Since alcohol must be detoxified as quickly as possible, the oxidation of the alcohol takes top priority over the oxidation of other macronutrients. In other words, while the liver is busy metabolizing alcohol, the utilization of fats, carbohydrates, and protein has to be temporarily suppressed. The burning of fats is suppressed the most, because it's positioned at the bottom of the oxidative hierarchy.

When alcohol is in your system, your body will simply convert more of the food you normally eat into body fat. Regardless of whether the calories come from food or drinks, if you consume more calories than your body needs, the excess will be stored as fat. Since most people usually consume their alcohol in addition to food instead of as a substitute for it, the accumulation of body fat is usually the result.

Alcohol provides little or no nutritional value

Alcoholic beverages provide little or no nutritional value. Alcohol is empty calories just like refined sugar is empty calories. There are trace amounts of some vitamins and minerals, but they're present in such tiny quantities that their nutritional value is insignificant. Aside from providing some energy in the form of a small quantity of carbohydrates, alcohol is empty calories.

Alcohol interferes with the absorption of nutrients

If the lack of nutritional value isn't bad enough, alcohol actually depletes the body of vitamins and minerals from other foods you eat. Alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach and intestinal tract and interferes with proper digestion and absorption of vital nutrients. The metabolization of alcohol by the liver uses up the B vitamins niacin and thiamin. Alcohol can also decrease your body's ability to metabolize zinc.

Alcohol is a poison

Alcohol is a toxin. It's essentially a poison that must be, detoxified by the body.

Alcohol dehydrates you

Alcohol is a potent diuretic. It draws water out of the cells and increases the loss of water through the kidneys. The increased fluid output can cause the loss of water soluble minerals and all of the other negative effects of dehydration.

1) Factor the alcohol calories into your daily intake.
2) Stay hydrated.
3) Limit yourself to two drinks per sitting and NEVER binge
4) Don't stay out late

Drinking and late nights often go together. Late nights out mean interrupted sleeping patterns, less sleep and or and a lower quality of sleep. Disrupted sleeping patterns often mean missed meals, poor workouts and poor recovery. Your body needs its rest and it thrives on structure and schedule.

5) Do not drink often (or daily
6) Don't bother explaining to others why you're not drinking

If peer pressure is a problem for you, don't bother attempting to explain to friends or coworkers the reason why you're cutting back on alcohol. If it's a major problem, you may need to reconsider who you spend time with.

You'll always become like those you spend the most time with. Choose your circle of friends carefully. Ninety-five percent of the world doesn't care that you're working on improving yourself.

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