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Written by Lucie Villeneuve, nutritionist, M.Sc.
Your body is about 60% water, so it’s really important that you drink enough water daily!
This article will walk you through the benefits of water, how much water you should drink, and how to increase your water intake.
Why is water important?
Water is actually a nutrient and a very critical one: you can only go a few days without water before dying, essentially. Indeed, water is involved in so many important bodily functions .
For instance, water helps regulate your body temperature through sweat, it helps excrete waste through sweat, urination, and bowel movements, it helps lubricate all your joints and tissues to protect them, it forms saliva, it helps keep your skin and hair healthy and hydrated…
Water also helps with nutrient absorption as it aids the breakdown of food and dissolves water-soluble vitamins and minerals.
Not getting enough water may lead to having less energy, reduced cognitive function, constipation, kidney stones, urinary tract infections…and more unpleasant things.
Does drinking water make you lose weight?
There are certain claims that drinking more water will help you lose weight and a few studies actually corroborate that. One study had people drink more water than they usually drank and showed weight loss .
Another study looked at women who were overweight and dieting over a year and also showed that drinking water could promote weight loss .
Certain studies show that water induces thermogenesis, meaning that drinking water can slightly speed up your metabolism .
So drinking water may both boost your metabolism and help curb your hunger, which can lead to some weight loss. But it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t miraculous and that weight loss should not be your main goal when wanting to increase your water intake.
For instance, I would discourage you from drinking five gallons of water a day to lose more weight!
How much water should you drink in a day?
There are lots of different numbers when it comes to the amount of water you should be drinking in a day. Some say 8 glasses, others 1.5 liters , for some it’s one gallon…
As with a lot of things, this varies depending on factors like your sex, your environment, your diet, your level of physical activity, your health, the season, etc.
This doesn’t mean you can’t aim for a general amount of water to drink in a day: around 2-3 liters (68-100 ounces, including water from other sources) is great.
You should also be paying attention to your personal water needs, which you can assess by looking at some indicators of hydration.
The first and seemingly most obvious one is thirst, but relying on it may not always be ideal. Some people aren’t used to drinking a lot and rarely feel thirsty, and others report already feeling the negative effects of dehydration by the time they actually start feeling thirsty.
So another easy way to check your level of hydration is to look at your urine. If it is almost clear or very pale yellow, then chances are you are very hydrated. Indeed, your kidneys are filtering a lot of water along with your body’s waste products. If these waste products are too concentrated, then your urine will be a dark yellow color, indicating that you should start drinking more water.
Here’s a link to a urine color chart that may be helpful.
You should also be mindful of your sweat levels: if it’s a hot day or if you’re exercising and you’re sweating more than usual, it’s important to drink more water to compensate.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should also be drinking more water, as well as if you are sick (vomiting, diarrhea, fever, infection…)
How to drink more water
Now that you know how important water is and the amount you need, here are some tips to drink more of it.
The first thing I recommend is replacing your usual beverages with water as much as you can. Instead of drinking a soda with your lunch, drink water. Instead of drinking juice at snack time, drink water. Make it a habit for water to be your default drink: you can have other drinks as a treat on occasion but water should be the one you turn to most often.
Another trick that can help you drink more water is keeping a reusable water bottle with you at all times. Some bottles also have little lines to encourage you to drink certain amounts throughout the day.
You can also set small goals for yourself to drink a certain amount of water each day, then break these goals down. You can push yourself to drink 1 liter before noon, to drink a whole water bottle after your workout, to drink 3 glasses during dinner…
Side note: there is no evidence that shows that drinking water with a meal can interfere with digestion or cause bloating, as long as you’re not drinking a gallon during each meal. So as long as you don’t have certain issues like GERD, as long as you don’t personally feel bad when you drink during meals, you can totally drink your water while you eat your food. It does not dilute your digestion enzymes, and it does not affect your digestion speed.
Finally, remember that other things count toward your total water intake as well:
Coffee, tea, soups, and broths are very helpful to consume if you’re trying to get in more water. Fruit and vegetables also have a high water content, specifically watermelon, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, celery, and tomatoes.
how to drink more water In short
Water is an essential nutrient that helps your body function properly and can aid in weight loss. Everybody’s needs are different when it comes to water intake, but aiming for 2-3 liters a day and making sure your urine is light enough is a great place to start. The more water you drink, the more you’ll get used to it, and drinking enough will soon become second nature!
If you’re interested in nutrition, its impact on our health, and the science behind it, you should definitely read How Not to Die. In this book, Doctor Michael Greger, founder of Nutrition Facts, examines the top causes of death in America and explains how your diet can prevent— and in some cases even reverse— them. His advice is all backed by science and he writes in a very clear and entertaining way. This book isn’t a list of what you already know. It will teach you the keys to living a long healthy life, in a simple and practical way, and without spending fortunes on supplements and pills!
PLUS if you want to take it a step further, you can check out the How Not to Die Cookbook to implement the advice easily!