The struggle to lose weight can be daunting, particularly if you tend to eat when you’re stressed. But hydration may be the secret weapon in healthy weight loss. Several recent studies, including one presented at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting, have demonstrated that dehydration can destroy your body’s ability to lose weight but that adequate water intake can help the fight to lose weight a less challenging battle.
Water and Muscle Health
Muscle is made of protein fibers and protein is made up of various amino acids chains. Water plays a vital role in the synthesis of amino acids and, without enough water, your muscle growth will suffer. If your body can’t efficiently build muscle, exercise will be much more difficult and your body will look less toned. Focus on drinking water regularly throughout the day rather than simply loading up on water before and after exercise.
Energy for Exercise
Especially in the first weeks after beginning a new fitness routine, it can be challenging to have enough energy to exercise. Water doesn’t provide calories for energy, but it does help your body more efficiently metabolize the available calories. Without enough water, your muscles won’t work as well and your heart rate may be irregular. You may also feel dizzy and have more difficulty maintaining a normal breathing rhythm. Drink eight ounces of water before and immediately after exercising, however, and you may suddenly find yourself with enough energy to keep at it.
When you first begin shedding those extra pounds, you’re actually losing water weight, not fat. Consequently, you may become dehydrated in your first few days after beginning a weight loss plan, and this can begin a cycle of muscle pain and difficulty burning further calories.
Further, water weight is a significant contributor to bulk. You can lose several pounds if you stop retaining water. Water retention is commonly caused by dehydration, and this water retention can cause your stomach and limbs to look puffy. Simply drinking water can help these areas of your body look slimmer, and this is often a powerful incentive to continue with your weight loss strategy.
A calorie is a unit of energy, and every time you move your body, it relies on calories to supply you with the energy you need. Water plays a major role in helping your body to process calories, and when you’re dehydrated, the brain sends cues to your cells telling them to conserve energy and cling to extra calories. Consequently, no matter how much you exercise, you won’t burn calories as efficiently or as quickly without enough water. The Mayo Clinic recommends that people trying to lose weight get at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, and drinking even more water than this can help you meet your ultimate goal of a trim physique and a healthy body.
Drinking water is so important for weight loss that it can even make the difference between lots of weight loss and no weight loss at all. A 2009 study published in the journal Obesity found that, among middle-aged adults who had previously struggled to lose weight, simply drinking more water helped them shed more pounds and burn calories more effectively.
For many people struggling to lose weight, hunger can be a major barrier. Particularly if you’ve suddenly switched to a low-calorie diet, you may struggle with food cravings. However, the brain often confuses thirst with hunger. Those hunger pangs you’re feeling may actually indicate you’re dehydrated. Moreover, water helps you feel fuller. This not only means you’ll eat less, making it easier to reach your reduced-calorie goals; it also means that you’re less likely to feel hunger in between meals. Try drinking a glass of water with each meal and at least two eight ounce glasses of water between meals.