One of the most common questions I receive about water is “won’t drinking a lot of water make me gain water weight?” This is a common misconception. It seems to makes sense at first, more water means increased water weight. But it’s actually just the opposite. When our body is hydrated properly it eliminates excess fluids better, reducing bloating and fluid retention. When you are dehydrated your body holds on to fluids in an effort to maintain regular body functions.
In addition to maintaining hydration and reducing bloating, regular water intake provides additional benefits to your health.
As part of a healthy diet, good hydration can provide healthy looking skin. How? Dehydration causes water to be pulled from organs, including the skin. This dehydrated state can cause damage to cells which results in wrinkles and damaged skin. Take note: this doesn’t mean you can hydrate your skin from the inside out, dermatologists have already debunked that skincare myth. But, staying hydrated can help you reduce wear and tear on your skin. Bonus!
The kidneys are our powerful built-in super filters. They help us eliminate waste and excess fluid by excreting it in our urine. The more fluid we drink, the better our kidneys flush out all the icky stuff. Drinking enough fluids also helps prevent kidney stones and infections.
Hydrated muscles perform better during exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking about 17 ounces of water 2 hours before exercise. This will help hydrate muscles and give your body enough time to eliminate excess fluid so you aren’t urgently needing to use the restroom while exercising.
Research shows that replacing beverages such as juices, milk, sodas, and coffee drinks with water can prevent unwanted weight gain. These sugar-rich beverages are high in calories and easy to down in a matter of seconds. This is not a good combination when it comes to maintaining a healthy body.
Not a fan of drinking water?
Start slowly, replace one beverage with a glass of water every day and increase weekly until you’re drinking more water than anything else. If you’re big on juice or sports drinks, simply start by diluting these drinks with water (half water, half juice). It’s okay to add a little flavor to water by adding an ounce or two of juice.
Make drinking water taste good and find something that works for you. Some suggestions: add lemon, lime, cucumber, mint or other fruits or vegetables to water for flavor. Load up on ice or even freeze water bottles overnight if ice cold water is more appealing.
Now, don’t forget to enjoy yourself a little. You don’t have to live solely on water. Enjoy that coffee drink or your juice with breakfast from time-to-time. Everything in moderation!
Frequently Asked Questions:
How about water and exercise? If you’re doing intense exercise, research has shown that a beverage with carbohydrates and electrolytes is more beneficial for hydrating than water itself. My go-to is diluted Gatorade: 1-2 tbsp. Gatorade powder mix + 40 ounces water. Keep in mind that sports drinks are high in sugar, therefore aren’t recommended as a recreational beverage.
What if I drink low-calorie or calorie-free sports drinks? Sports drinks aren’t intended as a regular beverage. Although low-calorie and calorie-free options decrease or even eliminate the sugar concern, these drinks contain artificial flavors and sweeteners. If you are looking to avoid artificial ingredients, I suggest flavoring water by adding fresh fruit or vegetables.
Are water flavoring drops healthy? The answer to this is similar to that above. Water flavoring drops may contain artificial flavors and sweeteners. If you are looking to avoid artificial ingredients, I suggest flavoring water by adding fresh fruit or vegetables.
You can calculate you’re recommended daily fluid intake below. Keep in mind that an easy way to monitor hydration status is by checking your urine. A well-hydrated body will produce a pale yellow to transparent yellow urine. If your urine is dark yellow, amber or honey, it’s probably time to drink some water.
Zelman KM. 6 Reasons to Drink Water. WebMD Web site. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/diet/6-reasons-to-drink-water?page=1. May 8, 2008. Accessed September 18, 2015.
McCoy M. Beauty myth busted: Drinking water reverses wrinkles. She Knows Web site. Available at: http://www.sheknows.com/beauty-and-style/articles/1040899/myth-busters-drinking-water-hydrates-your-skin. Published July 14, 2014. Accessed September 18, 2015.
Armstrong LE, Convertino VA, Coyle EF, Mack GW, Sawka MN, Senay LC Jr, Sherman WM. American College of Sports Medicine Position stand: Exercise and fluid replacement. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996; 28(1):i-vii.
Hao T, Hu FB, Malik VS, Mozaffarian D, Pan A, Willett WC. Changes in water and beverage intake and long-term weight changes: results from three prospective cohort studies. Int J Obesity. 2013; 37: 1378-1385.
Bae YJ, Kim BJ, Lee YS, Park SG. Effects of rehydration fluid temperature and composition on body weight retention upon voluntary drinking following exercise-induced dehydration. Nutr Res Pract. 2012; 6(2):126-131.