Water in our bodies
One of most important compounds in our body is water, which constitutes around 60 – 70% of our total bodyweight. Water excretes waste from our cells, aids in digestion and brain functions, transports nutrients around the body and regulates our temperature. Drinking before, after and during exercise boosts our performance, increases strength and helps us to recover quickly.
Side effects of dehydration
If you ever feel extremely lethargic, cranky, hungry, dizzy or weak, it’s extremely likely that you’re suffering from dehydration. If your urine color is deeply yellow that’s another sign of dehydration. Dehydration increases body temperature, which negatively influences your ability to perform physical activities, such as exercising or lifting weights. People can lose a whopping three liters of water every hour when they sweat. Staying hydrated is essential if you want to remain physically and mentally productive and energetic.
One tactic for monitoring your hydration levels during exercise is to weigh yourself before and immediately after a workout and monitor how much weight has been lost. Port-exercise, replenish your body with the amount of water weight that you’ve lost. Simply drink until the scales register the original weight you were before you exercised.
General recommendations for water intake vary from person to person. Those with large bodies, who are physically active or who live in hot climates will require more water than others. Our bodies stay hydrated through water and other liquids and also through moisture in our food.
The National Research Council recommends the below water intake, according to caloric expenditure:
The figure on the left signifies average calories expended on a daily basis with a guideline for water intake in liters on the right. To know how much you should be drinking, estimate how many calories you burn on a daily basis. Please note this is different to the amount of calories you consume on a daily basis but takes into account your overall intake AND physical activity levels.
2000 calories = 2 – 3 liters
2500 calories = 2.5 – 3.75 liters
3000 calories = 3 – 4.5 liters
3500 calories = 3.5 – 5.25 liters
4000 calories = 4 – 6 liters
Make sure you drink water throughout the day, from the moment you wake up until just before you sleep, to replenish your body and meet your water intake demands.
Sweetened beverages, alcohol and other liquid calories can cause excess weight gain if you don’t pay attention to what you consume. Liquid calories can be extremely dangerous to those following a fat loss program as they’re not as satiating as solid food, yet still cause weight gain. Drinking liquid calories in addition to your food intake is one of the fastest ways to see unwanted fat creeping onto your body.
How many calories do some of your favorite beverages contain?
Regular Coke, Pepsi or other soda drinks = 160 calories (39 grams of sugar)
Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino = 410 calories (64 grams of sugar)
Gatorade Energy Drink = 310 calories (42 grams of sugar)
Dunkin Donuts Mocha Latte = 460 calories (47 grams of sugar)
Sweetened ice tea = 240 calories (61 grams of sugar)
Long Island Ice Tea = 600 calories (35 grams of sugar)
Margarita = 740 calories (55 grams of sugar)
Pina Colada = 644 calories (40 grams of sugar)
When it comes to fat storage it makes no difference whether you eat or drink your calories. Some of the beverages in this list contain as many calories as an entire meal, and will highly contribute to fat gain should you drink them with meals or on a regular basis. Since our ancestors didn’t have any sweetened beverages thousands of years ago, drinking only water, our genetic codes have not evolved to register liquid calories physiologically. This means that far from making us feel full, liquid calories may even have a counterproductive effect and increase hunger.
Drinks containing natural sugar are no better - a calorie is a calorie. Natural fruit juices are higher in calories than eating whole fruits, contain less fiber and are not as satiating as eating fruits. What does this mean for you? It’s better to eat whole fruits that are more nourishing, keep you fuller and are lower in calories than drinking fruit juice. If you do decide to drink juice, pay close attention to your calories. Take this example: there are 45 calories in one orange and 200 calories in a glass of orange juice.
What about diet beverages and other drinks low in calories? Drinks that are artificially sweetened contain little or no calories. However, they don’t contain anything healthy for your body either. Enjoying low-calorie beverages is fine, as long as you indulge in moderation and not on a daily basis. Diet beverages don’t cause weight gain, since they contain no calories, however, some theorists claim that they have a tendency to increase your appetite or make you crave sweet food. Keep your appetite and overall calories under control and they won’t negatively affect your diet or your health.
Despite some claims that coffee and other caffeinated beverages are unhealthy, research has actually shown that caffeine promotes thermogenesis and the breakdown of fats. However, overdosing on caffeine will increase your heart rate and blood pressure and may trigger insomnia. Drinking coffee is beneficial, provided that you don’t overdose or add any sugar, cream, full fat milk or other excess calories than make it a dessert drink. Take your coffee black, with skimmed milk or a zero calorie sweetener.
Tea is another healthy drink, provided it’s unsweetened or enjoyed with a zero calorie sweetener. Research has found that tea which contains Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), such as green tea, is thermogenic and can contribute to a boost in your metabolism. One of the healthiest options is green tea, but there are a wide variety of teas available that offer the same benefits.
How to drink liquid calories
Most people will lose weight if they change absolutely nothing else in their diet but cut back on their liquid calories. What does this mean for you? Drink water, tea or coffee on a daily basis, diet beverages in moderation and skip the rest. Make sure your tea and coffee contain no sugar or whole fat milk. If you want to drink alcohol or other liquid calories, do so only occasionally, and make sure that you take your calories into consideration. Many people may hate the idea of cutting back on alcohol, but as a famous physique athlete once said: “alcohol and a fit body do not mix.”