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Is Drinking a Lot of Water Good For You?

Is Drinking a Lot of Water Good For You?

There is a common belief that drinking an excessive amount of water is somehow good for the human body.

Many claim that increasing our intake of water can lead to all sorts of health benefits including increased fat burning, less appetite, more energy, etc. But, what does the actual science say about that?

Is there any real benefit to drinking more water than the plain old thirst commands? Or are we just wasting our effort filling and refilling those water bottles all the time? (not to mention having to pee every hour of the day)

First of All, How Much is Too Much?

Before I continue, I should clarify what “a lot of water” means. “A lot of water” implies drinking many glasses of water per day, despite not being thirsty. People who do this often carry water bottles with them everywhere they go, and go to the bathroom to pee all the time.

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There is such a thing as “too much water”, which is water intake to the extent that it becomes dangerous. If you drink an insane amount, like in a water drinking contest (very stupid), you may go into a condition known as water intoxication, which can be deadly. The body’s cells need a constant balance of various electrolytes (salts). When you pee and sweat, some electrolytes tend to get out along with the water. Athletes that drink a lot of water to replace intense sweating, without replenishing the body’s salts, may dilute their body fluids. This can mess up the electrolyte balance and cause a condition known as hyponatremia, which can also be deadly.

Therefore, it is important to get in some electrolytes (salts) along with your water if you exercise intensely and sweat a lot. Some sports drinks include the necessary electrolytes to replace what is lost through sweat. But given that you are not participating in a water drinking contest (you’re smarter than that, anyway), and that you make sure to replace massive sweating with both water and electrolytes, then drinking a lot of water is completely safe.

Water and Cognitive Function

Drinking a lot of water isn’t going to make you smarter, but there is a tiny bit of evidence to show that a mild dehydration can slightly impair mental function.

25 healthy women were dehydrated by means of either exercise or diuretics. On average, they lost a little over 1% of their body mass. The women who were dehydrated had an increased perception of task difficulty, less focus, more symptoms of headache, and a degraded mood compared to controls. Thus, it does seem like a good idea to make sure you do not get dehydrated, and take note that 1% of body mass is a very mild dehydration.

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If you do feel a little blue at times, then perhaps you’re only a few glasses of water away from feeling your best again.

Water Intake and Bladder Cancer

There was one large-scale prospective study performed on 47.909 health professionals. This study found water intake to be inversely associated with cancer of the urinary bladder, with those who drank 6 or more (1440ml+) cups per day half as likely to get bladder cancer than those drinking less than 1 cup per day (-240ml).

In fact, the authors noted that each additional cup (240ml) lowered the risk by 7%. However, other studies found no protective effect against bladder cancer by drinking more water.

Water and Colorectal Cancer

Several studies show a significant protective effect of water intake against colorectal cancer, which is both common and deadly. In fact it is the third most common cause of cancer death.

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These studies show a risk reduction as high as 30-60%, but in some cases they are not statistically significant so they should be taken with a grain of salt.

Fluid Intake and Urinary Health

There is some evidence that drinking plenty of water might reduce chances of recurrence in patients who have been previously diagnosed and treated with kidney stones.

Water as a fat burning beverage

An observational study of 5.783 Chinese adults found that water intake was inversely associated with energy density of the diet, total energy intake and overweight status. Another study in 24 lean women found out that those who ate liquid food (soup) ate a lot less than those who had the same amount of food in solid form. However, eating the solid food with a glass of water on the side had no effect.

I’d like to point out, that despite water with a meal slightly increasing satiety, there is no indication that this would lead to weight loss in the long term, as there are so many other factors at play. There is, however, a small chance that if you stay well hydrated throughout the day, you won’t feel as hungry and won’t eat as much.

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If you really want to dig into the whole science behind water intake and health, then I recommend you take a look at this paper (12 – PDF).

Conclusion

In fact, if you don’t drink water for a few days, you will die. If you’re thirsty, water is the way to go. It is clean, calorie free, contains no additives and it’s really the only thing adult humans and pre-humans have been drinking for the last millions of years.

Elderly people may need to consciously make sure to drink water throughout the day as their brain may start to underestimate their required intake. That being said, I do not see any reason why it would be a good idea for young, healthy people to drink a lot more water than what thirst commands. The mechanism in our brain that controls water balance is incredibly efficient.

A common recommendation is eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule). According to the studies above, 5 glasses might be enough. Make sure you don’t get dehydrated, drink 5 glasses of water throughout the day (especially with meals), but definitely increase your intake of water preferably alkaline water before, during, and after workouts to keep ultra-hydrated and to reduce the accumulation of acidity in your exercising muscles for a better workout intensity and recovery time. This less acidic water is available both in bottles and thru specialized machines.

All in all, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to carry a water bottle around all day and drink so much that you have to pee all the time except, of course, when exercising. If you’ve got all that covered, then you have nothing to worry about.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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