– This is an article I wrote last summer for our company newsletter. –
By now, we’re well into the new year. For those of you who made health and fitness part of your New Year’s resolution, I hope you’re well on your way to a healthier, new you! If not, you’ve still got plenty of time, but you know how it goes … the sooner, the better. I’m actually hoping as I’m sitting here in early January writing this article that I’ve met some of my goals by the time this newsletter is published. If not, instead of a pat on the back, I’ll be telling myself to get it together! As most of us know from experience, it’s no easy task to adopt healthier eating habits, lose weight, and meet fitness goals in order to live a better life.
If you’ve ever embarked on a mission of weight loss and/or healthy living, without question, you’ve heard someone preach of the importance of drinking plenty of water. Personally, I’ve heard it time and time again, and for at least half a dozen reasons, such as, “It increases your metabolism.” “It helps you burn fat.” “It fills you up and helps curb hunger.” “It flushes toxins out of your system.” You know the stories, and the list goes on and on.
In an attempt to put an end to all of these rumors, myths and falsities, I decided to investigate the real reason why we should balloon ourselves with good ol’ H2O.
So what’s the truth? Drinking more water actually helps you lose fat! Any idea how this happens? Me neither, until now. Believe it or not, it all comes down to the work done by the liver and kidneys. Let’s first look at each individually, then the joint responsibility of both.
Liver: In order to lose fat, you want your liver to be in the best shape possible in order to convert stored fat into energy. As this is one of the liver’s main jobs, it has the potential to spend a good amount of energy on this task. Another of the liver’s tasks is to pick up where the kidneys leave off. Hold that thought, and let’s move to the kidneys for more.
Kidneys: These tiny organs are serious business! At 0.5% of your body weight, they receive a whopping 20% of your total blood supply! What do they do with all of this energy? According to http://www.howstuffworks.com/kidney.htm, some of the functions of your kidneys include: (1) regulate the composition of your blood, (2) remove wastes from your body, (3) maintain calcium levels, and (4) keep volume of water in your body constant. For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on (4) keep volume of water in your body constant. Your kidneys require lots of water to function properly; in fact, it’s a lot more than we may realize. So …
Together: Inadequately watered kidneys force the liver into overdrive, causing it to pull double duty, and subsequently lower its overall production. You can imagine – doing the jobs of two people instead of one would cause you to perhaps accomplish the end result of both jobs (If you’re lucky!), but with much less efficiency than doing only one job. When you work your kidneys too hard and don’t allow them to convert fat into energy, you store fat! Tell me, just who wants to do that?!
That being said, how much water will allow your liver to function properly and relieve your kidneys of double duty? That number differs depending on several factors (age, gender, weight, build, activity level, environment) and varies by source. A good starting point would be 13 cups (104 oz.) for men and 9 cups (72 oz.) for women with an increased 10-13 cups (80-104 oz.) recommended for pregnant women. If you’re active, you can expect to add an additional 2-3 cups (16-24 oz) to the above numbers. The recommended absolute minimum for any adult is 8 cups (64 oz).
With a focus on your water intake this spring and summer, you’ll be well on your way to drinking to your health … in water, that is!