The importance of drinking water
I’m sure you have heard that water is the health guru’s secret weapon – the old standard, “drink two litres of water a day” is, after all, one of the most well-known tips in the journey to getting fit.
Have you ever wondered why? Water performs several vital functions in the body: it transports nutrients to the necessary organs, removes wastes and is a solvent for many chemical reactions that need to occur to keep you functioning well. It also helps to maintain your blood volume, regulate your body temperature and even acts as a shock absorber for your joints and brain. It’s pretty easy to see how important water is just for the general functioning of your body.
But aside from these crucial functions, there are also additional benefits to drinking more water – here are just a few:
- Improve Your Physical Performance: Drinking water before, during and after physical activity helps to prevent dehydration and reduce fatigue. It can also help to improve your endurance and decrease muscle soreness after a workout. I have also personally found that just that sip of cool water during a tough session cools me down and gives me a little bit of a boost to push through.
- Promote Weight Loss: Increasing the amount of water you consume can also help you burn more calories, and avoid unnecessary calorie consumption. It helps you feel fuller, basically. Various studies also confirm that just increasing your water intake by half, to a full litre of water per day aids in burning fat!
- Mood Enhancer: Hydrated people are happy people! Staying hydrated wards of feelings of confusion, agitation, fatigue and drowsiness, making you a happier person on the whole.
- Increased the Cognitive Performance: Several studies have proven that those who drink water whilst performing strenuous cognitive tasks perform better than those who are somewhat dehydrated. So, be smart and drink more water!
- Prevent Headaches: Dehydration is a common cause of headaches and has been known to even trigger the onset of migraine. Especially in a hot climate, hydration is important – I can attest to the many times I have felt woozy with a headache due to not having enough fluids.
- Generally Fights Off Illnesses: Many painful conditions and illnesses are caused by not having enough water in your system. Kidney stones, constipation, UTI’s and even heart disease can be triggered by being dehydrated, and – in more severe cases – regular dehydration can lead to organ damage and kidney disease.
So, how much water do you really need?
As your body is mostly made up of water, it makes sense that the amount of water you need should also be in some way related to your body proportions. My general rule of thumb is that you should have at least 1 litre of water for every 30kgs of body weight, and on days when you are working out, you should add another litre extra. That means, if you weigh 60kg, you should be having at least two litres per day (with more water when doing exercise.) This is all good and well, but sometimes I struggle with this. Here are some easy tips for increasing your water consumption:
- What’s Your Flavour: Often it can be the taste (or lack thereof) that can put you off. Try adding some fresh fruit to your water – think strawberries, lemon and a few leaves of crushed mint as an example. You can even create your own glamourous water-infusions by combining fresh veggies like cucumber, with berries and mint for a really invigorating drink. The combinations are really quite endless! (Personal tip: Pinterest is literally bursting at the seams with ideas!)
- Starting Out Right: Have a glass of water first thing in the morning. This simple step helps to wake up your body and get ready to go! Acting almost like a signal, the water triggers your body into motion and also mentally sets you up to have a healthy mindset for the rest of your day.
- With Every Meal: Drink a glass of water every time you have a meal. This helps to make you feel fuller too, which is a good way of hindering any notions of overeating. Satisfying your thirst often also does away with cravings as mentally our brains sometimes confuse the sensations of hunger and thirst, or cravings and dehydration. Drinking water first eliminates the possibility that you are “craving” something as a means of satiating your thirst.
- Refill Your Tank: Try having a glass of water after every bathroom break you take. Not only is this a great way to remind yourself to keep hydrated, but the more water you drink, the more you will need to go the loo, which gets you up and moving and drinking more water – what a positive cycle!
- Get Tech Savvy: Did you know that you can track your water intake with an app? There are some awesome free apps available that make it easy for you to see if you need to top up or not, ultimately motivating you to drink more at the right time.
- Convenience: Keep a water bottle close on hand – on your desk, in your car or wherever you are. If it’s within reach and easy to access, chances are good that you will start sipping without even realising it. Keep it full and you will see how quickly your habits improve!
- Mark your Bottle: Marking your bottle with specific time slots are a great way to motivate you to reach a certain level at a certain time – it also helps to track how far you are from reaching your water intake goal for the day.
- Go one for one: If, like me, you are a coffee-lover (read addict) or you generally drink other beverages besides water, start matching your intake one-for-one with water: for every cup of coffee you have, match it with the same amount of water.
- Water Yourself at Gym: As mentioned before, water during workouts is essential. Take your bottle with you (although the water fountain is great, a bottle is better!) and commit to finishing the whole bottle by the end of your workout. As an added bonus, drinking water like this can speed up your recovery time!