Ever wondered if drinking water can help you feel better? Our bodies are mostly water, so there's got to be some benefit, right? If you’re looking to improve your fitness levels, or feel healthier and ready for summer, ensuring you drink enough water throughout the day is a great place to start.
Stay tuned as we show you how to improve your physical and mental well-being by drinking enough water…
How much water should I drink each day?
Ever wondered how much water you should drink each day? It differs from person to person, based on your age, activity level and the amount you sweat. However, as a general rule, it's best to have between 6 and 8 cups of water daily. It's not just water either, low-calorie fruit juices, low-sugar squash, low-fat milk, tea and coffee all count.
How do you know if you’re drinking enough water?
Your body is pretty good at telling you when it needs hydration. However, those suffering from chronic dehydration might find it a little more difficult to see the signs. General symptoms of dehydration include:
Dry lips, eyes, mouth or skin
Not urinating very often
Fatigue and exhaustion
A good indicator of your hydration levels is the colour of your urine – it should be light yellow or clear without an overpowering smell, but if it's dark, you could be dehydrated. It's worth remembering that taking certain supplements and vitamins can change the colour of your urine, so look for the other symptoms too.
How can drinking water help with a healthier lifestyle?
Increasing the amount of water you drink each day will not magically make you feel better but it does have some interesting effects that may help improve your habits;
1. Helps you feel fuller for longer
Have you ever eaten a large meal only to realise afterwards that you are too full and didn’t need to eat that amount? That’s because there can be a delay between your stomach sending signals and your brain receiving them. To help you eat just the right amount whilst feeling fuller sooner, try drinking a glass of water before each meal.
Furthermore, thirst can often be mistaken by the body for hunger, so ensuring you drink water before eating means that you can take care of your hydration levels without consuming food to try and satisfy your body's needs.
2. Reduces calorie intake
You can help reduce your calorie intake by switching your drink of choice to a glass of water instead. This can be tricky, as many find water too boring to drink regularly and may prefer something sweet or fizzy. However, making healthier choices and gradually transitioning to water or lower-calorie drinks is a great way to go, so be patient as you adjust to this new habit.
To increase your water intake without overloading on calories, go for sugar-free versions of your favourite drinks, use lemon and lime to flavour tap water, try low sugar squash or switch to carbonated water. Not only will this new habit help you feel better but it’ll also help keep your teeth and mouth healthy.
3. Improves mental well-being
When we’re dehydrated, we often feel sluggish, tired, low energy and generally like we are functioning poorly. This is because our brains rely on adequate hydration to function properly. So, if you’re experiencing lots of food cravings or feeling low, drinking enough water can help.
When our brains are functioning well, it’s far easier to make better choices about food and hydration. So, you won’t need to rely on high-carb meals to give you enough energy to get through the day.
4. Helps to aid digestion
You need water to metabolise any fat and carbohydrates in the food you eat, and in your body's stored reserves. It also helps the body digest food whilst removing toxins and filtering waste.
If you are dehydrated, the kidneys can hold on to fluid, and the body can process urine and waste at a slower rate. This can sometimes cause our bodies to retain a bit of water in our skin, or around our ankles and just feel a bit 'puffy' or sluggish. Dehydration can result in constipation, bloating and other digestion issues – so drinking enough water enables your digestive system to do its job.
5. It supports muscle strength & resilience
Studies have shown that dehydration can have an effect even at the cellular level, particularly concerning muscle wastage and resistance. This is because around 76% of the muscle is water. So, it makes sense to stay hydrated to maintain and look after your muscles and keep them functioning optimally for longer.
How can drinking water help you to keep fit?
For those that exercise regularly, dehydration can set in quickly as water is lost through sweating. That’s why it’s crucial to keep water nearby if you’re at the gym or going for a run – to keep everything in your H2O-filled body working as it should.
What else can I do to feel better?
The key to feeling better is to make long-lasting lifestyle changes that you can stick to. These might include:
Getting enough sleep
Increasing levels of exercise
Reducing calorie intake for healthier swaps
Reducing alcohol intake
Are there any water-drinking obstacles to be aware of?
Not everyone has access to clean water. There are treatment facilities for large communities and options for your home, but it's a basic human right that is still not globally available. So consider the cost of bottled water in your diet and lifestyle plans if you need to.
Other than that, there are your own cravings and tastes to consider – certain drinks can seem addictive, so it can be harder to make the switch. Not to mention your family and friends offering tempting goodies to pull you off-plan. The summer heat can dehydrate you more, so be careful of that. And the cost of a gym membership can add up too if you go down that route.
Just be careful and plan comprehensively, and you'll see and feel the changes soon enough.
Now you know how drinking enough water can help you get fit, feel better and keep your body in tip-top condition. Do you drink enough each day?