Health, Fat Loss, and Performance
The human body can go three weeks without food, but only three days without water. A 2% drop in hydration can cause a small but critical shrinkage of the brain. Dehydration can kill.
Around 60% of our bodies are made of water, and around 80% in infants. The human brain is composed of 95% water, blood is 82% water, and the lungs are nearly 90% water. As you can see straight away, dehydration is not somewhere you want to be.
Simply drinking water does more than quench your thirst. Water protects our tissues, lubricates our spinal cord, and helps us create the fluid that gives us mobility in our joints. We also have the fact water helps maintain the consistency of our blood which in turn helps feed our brain. Studies have shown that increasing daily water intake has shown to decrease the risk of colon cancer by 45%, reduce the risk of bladder cancer by 50%, and it may also reduce the risk of breast cancer. It is also believed that water may prevent kidney stones and urinary tract infections as well as asthma. But let’s move away from the inns and outs of the human body as this could go on all day, and let’s talk about the topics most of the readers want to know about.
Let’s talk fat loss. Water plays a key role in the digestive process. Digestion starts with saliva, the basis of which is water. Within the saliva are enzymes which are necessary to help in the breakdown of food. Being hydrated is important on a biochemistry level but keeping it simple water is required for us to extract all the nutrients from the food we eat which in turn gives us energy. Drinking sufficient amounts of water will help the body process and transport the nutrients and excrete any waste products once they are metabolised. Although water does not provide energy in the same way carbohydrates and lipids do, it plays an important role in energy transformation. Without water present we simply wouldn’t be able to digest any food. Whilst on a calorie deficit, it’s important to extract as much energy and nutrients from your food as possible or we run the risk of shutting down many of the hormonal processes within us. Water is the medium in which all energy reactions take place. Water is also a natural appetite suppressant and increases the body’s ability to metabolise stored fat. Studies have shown a slight decrease in hydration will cause fat deposits to increase, while an increase in hydration can reduce fat deposits. Water is also important for the liver as one of the liver’s primary functions is to metabolise stored fat into usable energy for the body. If you become dehydrated you will become lethargic due to the lack of nutrient turnover and transportation within the cells. Water also helps form the structures of protein and glycogen.
If you train or body build ensuring you are fully hydrated before, during, and after the workout is imperative. Water along with the minerals contained in it is needed for our muscles to contract and without water we simply would not be able to move. Even slight dehydration can reduce endurance and decrease strength; you will also start to experience cramping as your muscles are deprived of electrolytes. Your muscular response time will also slow down, and if you play any kind of sport this is a very bad thing. Water is needed to transport nutrients to your cells which are essential if you want to build muscle and experience optimal performance in the gym.
Our bodies are constantly using water on a molecular level, but even breathing and talking expels water. In fact we lose around 1.5 litres a day just by going to the toilet, and all that sweating you’re doing whilst exercising that could be anything up to 2 litres if you’re an over the next few hours.
Also take into account some other contributing factors which affect our hydration levels. The first one, usually overlooked is environment. We all know when in a hot country we should drink more water, but this is the same sitting at home with the heating on, or a gym with air con as this dries the air out. A new UK campaign with the headline ‘winter dehydration kills’ will be circulating this year.
The next thing to consider is medication and supplements. Whether it’s prescribed to you from your GP or purchased in a health shop, one of the side effects will be dehydration. Your average shop bought multi vitamin needs to be consumed with 500ml of water. This is around double the amount the average person knocks theirs back with. With half of all aduts taking prescribed medication dehydration is becoming an epidemic. The NHS stated that 40% of A&E issues in 2015 stemmed from dehydration. As a suggestion, consuming 1 litre water per supplement/medication per day will go a long way to improve your body’s functionality and hydration levels.
One last thing to discuss is caffeine. Drinking tea and coffee has been a long argument in the health world with one side suggesting any fluid intake is beneficial and the other side debating if it’s not water it’s not hydrating. I am a firm believer in context. If someone only drinks 500ml water each day and 2 litres fizzy drink, but is willing to swap the fizz for tea than this is clearly a better choice.
By the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. Once dehydrated, the effects can last into the following day(s) if you’re not careful. Instead of waiting until you are thirsty, continuously sip water throughout the day and especially throughout your training. If needed setting an alarm or getting a water drinking app may be useful. A great way to see how much fluid you have lost during a workout is to weigh yourself prior and then straight after. This fluctuation is 99.9% fluid lost via sweating, breathing, and talking. This is the amount you need to get back in you
If you are concerned over your hydration or any of the topics we have discussed today please send us a message and we will get back to you.
For further reading check out ‘Your bodies many cries for water: You are not sick you are thirsty’ by Dr Batmanghelidj.