The direct link between water intake and weight loss is a topic of debate. While past beliefs that water flushes fat from the body lack scientific support, some studies do show that water can influence your weight in other ways. These are a few things we know about water, hydration, health, and weight loss.
About 55-60% of your body weight is water, which helps with temperature regulation, cardiovascular function, waste removal, and metabolism. To function at its best, the body needs to be well-hydrated.
Due to water loss through sweat, dehydration can quickly set in during exercise – especially in hot and humid weather. Dehydration leads to fatigue and poor exercise performance. This reduces the amount of time and the intensity at which you can exercise, decreasing overall calorie burn.
Drinking large amounts of water can result in hyponatremia (low sodium). When drinking too much plain water, electrolytes (especially sodium) are transported from the blood and tissues into the small intestine, resulting in a dangerous electrolyte imbalance.
One small study showed that following water intake, metabolic rate increases and remains elevated for over an hour. One reason for this increased calorie burn is thought to be the energy needed for the body to heat the water.
Another study, published in the journal Obesity, found that increased water intake was linked to decreased weight, waist circumference, and body fat in overweight women who were on a weight loss plan.
Thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger. Water may help reduce hunger, which can reduce overall calorie intake.
Sipping water provides a distraction to reduce mindless snacking.
Replacing beverages that contain calories with water will lower total calorie intake.
Do you think you need a diet pill to lose weight? Here are seven reasons why the dangers of diet pills far outweigh the benefit of any potential weight loss.
There is no guarantee.
Dietary supplements do not require approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before being sold to the public. With so many companies and products, it is easy for unsafe ingredients to find their way into popular diet pills, going unnoticed until adverse reactions are reported to the FDA.
They can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
The main ingredient in many diet pills are stimulants that have been found to increase risk for heart attack and stroke. Often these stimulants are prescription level drugs that have been banned from the market, but they illegally make their way back into these pills due to poor regulation of dietary supplements.
You can become addicted.
Diet pills often contain amphetamines, anti-anxiety drugs, and antidepressants. Not only is this a dangerous mix, but these drugs are also highly addictive.
You may experience multiple side effects.
Some diet pills contain fat blockers that decrease nutrient absorption and cause stomach upset. Other reported side effects of diet pills include constipation, headaches, and mood swings.
Labels are full of false claims.
Don’t believe every claim you read on the labels of dietary supplements. In a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an analysis of 127 dietary supplements (including weight loss pills) found that 20 percent made illegal claims on the labels stating that the product cured or treated disease.
They are ineffective.
Many diet pills are simply a combination of caffeine and other diuretics, which cause water loss. Initially this results in a lower number on the scale, but this is not true fat loss and the water weight will return. Additionally, extreme water loss due to diet pills can cause dangerous dehydration.
You won’t change your habits.
Long term weight loss requires a change in your eating and exercise habits to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Taking a pill as a quick-fix method does not encourage you to gain a better understanding of how foods and exercise affect your weight. You are less likely to check food labels, record your food intake, and fit in your exercise if you think a pill is going to do the work for you. Taking pills forever is not sustainable and once you stop, you’ll be back to your poor habits and initial weight.
Maintaining a healthy body weight is important, but it should not be confused with being physically fit. Simply being thin does not protect you from health conditions related to a sedentary lifestyle.
Research supports fitness.
A person can appear thin while having excess visceral fat -- the fat around vital organs that increases disease risk -- making weight alone a poor indicator for overall health. Researchers use the term metabolically fit to describe a person who is a regular exerciser and overweight, but is without health risk factors, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Studies show that, despite being overweight, the metabolically fit have no higher death risk than those who are fit and maintain a normal weight.
This research indicates that thinness doesn’t always equal fitness, but it is also no reason to abandon your weight loss goals. Maintaining a healthy weight puts less stress on your joints and can improve your energy levels.
Measure your fitness.
Fitness should be your goal regardless of your body weight. There are three components that define your total fitness level:
Cardiorespiratory endurance – Often measured by the step test, it is the ability of the heart, lungs, and vascular system to work together to transfer oxygen and carbon dioxide within the body during activity.
Muscular endurance, power, and strength – Measured by push up tests, sit up tests, and hand grip, it’s the ability of the muscles to contract, generate force, and sustain repeated contraction.
Flexibility – Measured by the sit-and-reach test, flexibility is a measure of the range of motion around joints.
Fitness centers, worksite health fairs, and university exercise labs provide tests for these components.
Pass these health tests.
Health tests help you identify risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Remember that those considered metabolically fit do not have health risk factors despite the fact that they are overweight according to their BMI. Regularly schedule appointments with your healthcare provider to assess these health indicators. He or she may recommend more tests to determine your overall health status.
Fasting blood glucose - 70 to 100 mg/dL is normal
Triglycerides - below 150 mg/dL is desirable
HDL cholesterol - greater than 60 mg/dL is desirable
Blood pressure - less than 120 mmHg over less than 80 mmHg is normal
Exercise regardless of your weight.
Exercise is a key factor in staying metabolically fit. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week for improved health. Also incorporate two or three days of strength training and two or three days of flexibility training each week for a balanced exercise program to improve your metabolic fitness.
A good fitness program includes three types of activity - cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility training.
Cardio: Your cardio sessions use large muscle groups for an extended period, burning the calories necessary for weight loss. At the same time, aerobic exercise works the heart, which makes it stronger and improves cardiovascular health. Choose activities that raise your heart rate and keep it elevated, such as dancing, hiking, jogging, or swimming.
Strength training: Weight machines, free weights, muscle conditioning classes, Pilates, and jump training all qualify as strength training. Some forms of yoga have also been found to increase muscular strength. Strength training burns calories, reduces muscle loss as you age, and gives your muscles a toned appearance. Incorporate strength training at least two times per week with exercises that work all major muscle groups.
Flexibility training: Activities that improve your range of motion can reduce your risk of injury and can improve your physical performance. Flexibility training can simply be stretching each muscle group after a workout, or it may already be a part of your activity such as with martial arts, yoga, or Pilates.
Find activities you enjoy.
Consistency is a major factor in your success with losing weight and keeping it off long-term. Enjoying your exercise routine impacts your ability to be consistent over the long run. If you feel there are no activities you enjoy, it’s time think outside the box. Jumping on the trampoline with your kids, or playing in an adult volleyball league count as exercise just like cardio machines and classes at the gym. If you find that you don't like the first plan you try, don't give up in frustration. Explore some new activities until you find some that you enjoy.
You must invest the time.
The American College of Sports Medicine reports that exercising more than 250 minutes per week is necessary to lose significant weight (at least 3% of body weight) while also improving the likelihood that you will keep the weight off. Below is a sample weekly exercise program that totals 315 minutes, involves all three fitness components, and includes a variety of activities.
Hiking: 60 minutes
Stationary Bike: 30 minutes
Full-body Strength Training: 20 minutes
Full-body Stretching: 10 minutes
Indoor or Outdoor Walk: 45 minutes
Modern Dance Class: 60 minutes
Elliptical Machine: 30 minutes
Full-body Strength Training: 20 minutes
Full-body Stretching: 10 minutes
Doubles Tennis: 30 minutes
Do the math.
Weight loss depends on creating a deficit between energy intake and energy expenditure. To lose body fat, you need to burn more calories through metabolism and physical activity than you ingest through food. Tracking your exercise with the MyFoodDiary Exercise Log, combined with using the food diary to track food intake, will help you balance your eating and activity to create the calorie deficit you need to reach your weight loss goal.
Surround yourself with cheerleaders who are supportive of your weight loss journey. ~ Liz lost 59 lbs.
Whether it is family, friends, or coworkers, research shows that finding like-minded people who support your weight loss goals will help keep you on track. Research also shows that both in-person meetings and electronic communication (text messages and social media) are effective for motivation. The MyFoodDiary forum is a place where many of our successful members meet to support each other in fitness.
There will be times when you want to throw in the towel and revert back to your old ways. But remember that you are worthy and deserving of being healthy and fit. ~ Sabrina lost 57 lbs.
Body image and self-esteem play a significant role in your weight loss. Believing that you can succeed, and believing that you deserve to succeed, are the first steps to making lasting changes. Make a plan for how you will overcome unwelcomed feelings of discouragement and self-doubt while working to reach your healthy weight.
Splurge on occasion. There are some folks that say you shouldn't reward yourself with food. I think the occasional reward is healthy. ~ Steve lost 125 lbs.
Many nutrition professionals advocate the 80/20 rule when it comes to healthy eating. Enjoy a nutritious diet 80 percent of the time, and 20 percent of the time you can incorporate some of your favorite treats. Do this while also staying near your target calorie goal and exercising regularly. When you allow yourself to enjoy your favorite foods in moderation, you avoid feeling deprived.
Learn to make your favorite recipes with healthier options, and use portion control when it comes to those foods that may not be the best choice. ~ Dave and Laura lost 199 lbs together.
Knowledge is a key component of successful weight loss. Understanding proper portion sizes, how to measure your food, and how to read food labels will help you gain better control of your food intake. Learning to cook your favorite foods and tweaking recipes to make them more nutritious will help reduce cravings for unhealthy alternatives.
Remember, you are not DIETING. You are making a lifestyle change. ~ Kim lost 46 lbs.
You will only stick with healthy habits once they become a natural part of your day-to-day life. View that salad at lunch and the cookie you skipped mid-afternoon as part of your healthy lifestyle, not because you are on a diet. Diets are short term. Healthy lifestyle changes set you up for long term success.
It takes only 60 minutes a day to exercise. It is a perfect time to concentrate on yourself and express your love for life. ~ Stacey lost 47 lbs.
Change how you view exercise. Whenever you talk about your workouts, use the phrase, “I get to,” and not the phrase, "I have to." It may feel silly at first, but when you consider exercise a privilege and not a chore, it becomes something that you look forward to.
Be open to giving different exercise options a try and join a fitness facility if you are able. I have found that connecting with individuals at the club keeps me accountable and engaged. Surround yourself with active people! ~ Judy lost 52 lbs.
The only way you will stick with exercise is if it’s activity that you enjoy. Don’t limit yourself to two or three options. Make it a goal to incorporate a new activity every two to three months. Take advantage of the season and train to walk a 5K in the spring, swim in the summer, hike in the fall, or snowshoe in the winter. If you know change is right around the corner, exercise will always feel fresh and new.