Water is the most vital liquid known to man. Each cell in the human body needs water to operate physiologically. Moreover, water makes up about 70% of the human body and is essential to our survival.
Adequate hydration seems like such a simple concept but yet fitness-enthusiasts and everyday Joes overlook it. It’s not uncommon to see people who go through a whole day without drinking much more than a cup or two of coffee and some sugar-laden fruit juice (which can actually dehydrate you).
Water should be the main beverage of choice and consumed regularly throughout the day if you are looking to keep properly hydrated. Being well-hydrated will improve the quality of your workouts, increase your energy levels, and enhance your ability to digest food and absorb nutrients, among many other things. Thus, this article will take a look at just how important hydration is for optimal fat loss and finish off with tips on how to keep liquid intake adequate.
In your body, many hormones (chemical messengers) play a role in the promotion of fat loss. These hormones interact with various tissues of the body (including fat cells) by being circulated through the blood. Dehydration may reduce circulating blood volume, which compromises this process. When you maintain a fully expanded blood volume and adequate circulation (via appropriate fluid intake), it is easier for the body to circulate all of the hormones and process energy (in the form of ketone bodies, fatty acids, and glucose) that aids the fat loss process.
There are many metabolites that build up from fat mobilization that have to be eliminated from the body. If you are adequately hydrated, these metabolites will preferentially be eliminated through the kidneys. If you are dehydrated, the liver is going to be responsible for moving a lot of those metabolites into the bile and stool for excretion. When losing body fat, the liver is also the main area where mobilized fat is processed. If the liver has to strain to eliminate metabolites, it has less capability to metabolize stored fat into usable energy. Staying well hydrated frees the liver to process body fat so that it can be burned as fuel.
When properly hydrated, the interior, fluid-filled space of the cell (called the cytosol) is going to be as full as possible. In this situation, think of your cells as balloons that are fully blown up. The cell will be stretched out so that all of its hormonal receptors are exposed to their extracellular environment and can interact optimally with circulating hormones. If you are dehydrated your cells may not be expanded (think more like a slightly deflated balloon), thus cell receptors are not as well exposed, and your hormones do not circulate as easily.
A gallon of ice-cold water (40 degrees Fahrenheit) requires roughly 125 calories of heat (energy/calories) to warm it to the standard core body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time, consuming cold water slightly lowers one’s core body temperature, which requires energy (calories) to heat the body back to its normal temperature. Between these two processes, the calories burned by the body can add up and contribute to a caloric deficit over time.
It’s unfortunate that inadequate water consumption likely holds many people back from their health and fitness goals. The rule-of-thumb purported by health organizations and doctors alike is that you should consume about eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
However, for active individuals and those with a good amount of muscle, a better guideline is to consume at least one ounce of water for every kilogram of body weight. Thus, a gym goer weighing 220lbs (100kg) should aim for 100 ounces of water per day, minimum. If you struggle to drink enough fluid and keep hydrated, you should check out this article that gives some simple tips to increase water intake. The tips may not be profound, but they are sure to keep you hydrated so your body can keep efficient and healthy.
Ultimately, if you’re trying to lose fat or prep for a physique competition, cutting water too low will only make the process harder, so don’t skimp on fluid intake.