I stumbled on a random piece of information the other day that lead to hours of research on the internal effects of hydration/dehydration. I’ve talked a ton about drinking water on this site. But it was mainly geared towards the external beauty benefits.
We all know that if we don’t get enough water that our skin could be affected. But many of us aren’t aware of the impact it could have on our weight. I mean, sure, some individuals experience positive weight benefits when they switch from drinking soda to water, but I’m not talking about that.
There’s another type of impact that water intake can have on your weight and eating habits that you should know about.
As we all know, the human body is made up of mostly water. Much of that water isn’t found in our blood but it consists of fluids located in between our countless number of cells. In a healthy individual, the fluid travels in and out of the cell bringing with it essential, life-giving nutrients.
Water levels in the body fluctuate depending on various factors. We lose water through normal daily functions like urination, sweating and even breathing. In any given day, we are losing water just by being alive.
Our body counts on us to replenish that water through 2 main ways:
Ideally, we drink at least half our body weight of water in ounces a day to keep hydrated. But, sometimes life happens and we don’t drink nearly enough. I know this happens to me all the time. I’ll feel bad for dropping the ball then promise to do better next time.
But, here’s the thing, when you’re not drinking water, your body is STILL thirsty (internally) and needs to get access to water. So does what it needs to do by implementing plan B. What’s plan B? Hunger. Most of the food we eat has water some content. It’s nowhere as much as when you drink water, but it works. Once your food is digested, the body extracts water from it for use by our organs and cells.
Plan B isn’t so bad if you eat lots of fruits & veggies. They are high water content foods and do an ok job as a source of hydration. But if you eat typical foods that aren’t mostly water, your body has to extract whatever little bit of water it can. When it needs more water, it asks for more food. Here you are, taking in all of these extra calories just so your body can scrounge for a little bit of water. This, my friends, could be a root cause to those extra pounds we’ve put on.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s yet another mechanism related to water drinking that causes us to gain weight. Sometimes, when I’m working for extended hours, I suddenly feel the need to eat something sweet. I need the sugar in my system. Once I’ve satisfied my urges, with high calorie sweets, I feel normal again. What my body was looking for was access to glycogen which is stored up energy (carbs) in the muscle.
Typically, it’s the liver’s job to release stored glyogen when needed. But, when we’re dehydrated, the liver struggles to do it’s job. And, of course, our body is self-preserving so it launches Plan B–sugar cravings. That gives it quick access to the fuel it needs. If we’re trying to manage our weight, tapping into stored glycogen is actually a good thing. But, not drinking enough water will screw with your normal body functions. So next time, you have a craving for something sweet, try water first.
Lastly, when your underhydrated, your serotonin levels are impacted. Seratonin has a direct correlation with you feeling full after a meal. When our seratonin is low, the brain activates our sugar cravings so insulin levels rise (which raises our seratonin). It’s a viscious, ugly cycle and our poor waistline is caught in the middle.
If these arguments aren’t enough to help you get back on track with your water intake, I don’t know what will. Not only are there external beauty benefits, adequate water levels could help keep us leaner. As I did my research, I stumbled on another “water fact” directly related to anti-aging. I’m still gathering data but I look forward to sharing the information with you in the near future. But for now, experiment with keeping yourself hydrated and see what difference it makes in your healthy weight journey.