Did you know hunger can sometimes be a sign of thirst? And that good hydration curbs appetite?
One thing you probably need to do right now is quaff more water and less “drinks.” In fact, water should be your go-to drink all day long.
Water is vital to our body. It regulates our temperature, flushes waste and those ubiquitous “toxins” out of our system, delivers the nutrients from our food to our body, lubricates our joints, cushions our nervous system, and aids in just about every bodily function we unconsciously rely on. It’s kind of a big deal.
Oftentimes when we feel a little meh, blah, or indescribably crummy, we like to blame gluten or misaligned chakras, or the ennui intertwined into our modern lifestyle, but the reality might be we are just a bit dehydrated. Like a droopy plant, all we need is a good watering.
What about other beverages?
Tea and coffee are light on calories, but contain caffeine. Although they are considered diuretics, a few cups won’t dehydrate you. In fact, moderate caffeine intake can boost your performance. But too much caffeine, on the other hand, can produce unwanted side-effects, like irritability, restlessness, heart arrhythmia, insomnia, headaches, and other crappy symptoms. If you are drinking more than 4 caffeinated beverages a day, cut back.
Pop, soda, sparkling juice-tea blends, and other sugary carbonated beverages are high in calories and some have plenty of caffeine as well. A pop here and there is okay, but it’s just a huge chunk of excess calories on a daily basis. Dump this addiction, if you have it. It’s one of the easiest ways to lose a few pounds with the least amount of effort.
Juices are full of calories, too. Even the ones labeled “healthy 100%.” Even if you juice your own. In fact, I’m not a big proponent of juicers unless you’re trying to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet without having to chew. Or if you are sick and in need of hydration, blood sugar and extra vitamins.
Alcohol dehydrates you, depresses your metabolism, and adds a bunch of useless calories. I’m not saying you have to be a teetotaler, but limit this stuff. I don’t mean by drinking “lite” beers or “skinny” wines. I mean by having one drink at a time, or a 2-3 on the weekend. Not 3-6 a night. If you are serious about losing weight, you are going to need to rein in the party and shorten happy hour.
Energy drinks are the devil. Burn them in the town square.
Okay, so how much water do I need?
This is a tricky question, because that whole 8-10 cups a day is… wait for it…. bullshit. (But it’s not necessarily a bad estimate) The real indicator of proper hydration is that you are rarely thirsty and your pee is light in color. The Institutes of Medicine says about 13 cups of total fluid for men and 9 cups for women is generally adequate. Keep in mind, other drinks count toward this amount, too. If you exercise vigorously, live in a dry climate or a very hot one, or at higher altitudes, you might need a little extra. There is no magic number, however – you have to listen to your body. It’s surprisingly good at regulating what our dumb asses dump into it.
I have a bunch of bottles with the ounce markers on the side. Every morning, I grab a 24 ounce bottle in a color that suits my mood and refill it a few times throughout the day. I also have a cup of coffee with breakfast.
Although water toxicity is rare, it is a thing that happens. Mostly to endurance athletes who drink way too much water and dilute all the salts in their body. Aka: not you. So don’t worry about it.
Ditching "drinks" in favor of water is the first step towards a healthier you. You will be cutting calories without lifting a finger. You will reduce the likelihood of headaches and other symptoms of restlessness or malaise in one simple step. Perk up, my little houseplants. Perk up.