We really do have a ‘sea’ within us as humans based on the fact that 65% to 70% of our physical form is made of water. That’s amazing if you stopped for a moment and thought about it – what’s behind the skin that you see is nearly three quarters water.
The primary purpose of water in the body is for ‘flow’
One of the most important functions of water in the body is to keep things flowing. Think about it like this: where there is stagnation there is death and where there is flow there is life. A stagnate pool of water in nature is a place where things are dying but a flowing place of water such as a river is a place where many things find life.
So how does water keep things ‘flowing’ in the body. This is done as water allows for and maintains adequate blood volume. Human blood is 92% water. Adequate blood volume allows for:
• Delivery of nutrients, minerals, and oxygen to the cells
• Removal of toxins from the cells
• Transfer of fatty acids from fat cells to the liver to be burned as fuel during weight loss
• Maintenance of adequate blood pressure
• Maintenance of adequate blood flow to the brain
• Maintenance of adequate blood flow to the G.I. tract to digest food and remove waste through the stool
To appreciate when you don’t have adequate blood volume or ‘flow’, think about when you had the experience of going from a sitting position to a standing position quickly where you felt lightheaded and/or you felt your heart racing; This was because you did not have adequate blood volume, maybe due to dehydration; and as a result of standing up quickly, enough blood was not able to make its way to your brain.
Other functions of water in the body is that it lubricates joints, allows the body to be able to regulate body temperature through sweating, and many, many more functions.
Drinking water is all about meeting your fluid needs
The average adult will eliminate 84 ounces of water per day. About half of this fluid loss is due to urination and the other half loss through a combination of sweating, breathing (the breath is 100% humidified), and stool formation. Now the more aerobically active you are and thus the more breathing and sweating you do will increase the amount of water loss dramatically. Also the temperature of your environment will have an effect on the degree of sweating and water losses from breathing.
So now that we know that the body loses on average 84 ounces of water per day, how do we make up these losses? You will need to eat your water and drink it. On average we receive about 17 ounces of fluid from the foods we eat per day. And this explains why it is recommended that on average you consume at least 64 fluid ounces of water a day because if you drink 64oz + eat 17oz = 81oz; which is close to what we eliminate on average per day.
So how much water should we really drink a day? As stated above, at least 64 fluid oz but even more precisely about half your body weight in fluid ounces a day; so for example, if you weigh 230 pounds, that would mean drinking 115 ounces a day. Of note, there are 128 ounces in 1 gallon. Now of course there are certain health conditions such as congestive heart failure where drinking even less than the 64 ounces a day is necessary, but your health care provider will direct you in this regard.
The more you exercise the more water you need to drink
As stated above you lose more fluid the more you sweat and breathe, so of course by sweating and breathing more during exercise, you’ll need more water.
How do you calculate your water requirements during exercise? The only way to easily do this is to use the scale. Weigh yourself just before you do your workout routine and then weigh yourself right after you finish. So for example if you lost 4 pounds after running, there's no way you lost 4 pounds of fat after one bout of running thus the weight lost represents mostly water that you lost. Remember that to lose 1 pound of fat, you have to burn 3500 calories – a bout of running for an hour would burn only 500-800 calories.
To calculate your sweat rate, use this formula:
1. For every 1-pound loss after exercise is equivalent to losing 16 ounces of sweat/fluid.
2. Now to replace this loss you will need to drink 24 ounces to rehydrate your body – the additional 8 ounces included in the twenty-four is due to some losses which will occur through urination.
Formula: 1-pound weight loss after exercise = 16oz loss of fluid -> need to drink 24oz to replace
So for example if you lost four pounds after a workout, that would equal the loss of 64 ounces of fluid, which is in addition to what you are losing daily at baseline already. To replace this loss, you would drink not 64oz of water but 96oz of water (24x4). Again this would be in addition to the water you need to drink at your baseline. So on this day you drink a total of 160oz (64oz for baseline + 96oz due to exercise losses = 160oz).
What type of fluid should you consume when you're exercising? The recommendations are:
• If your workout regimen is moderate and less than an hour, drinking water is adequate
• If your routine is greater than an hour or vigorous or in the heat for more than 30 minutes, you likely need to switch to a sports drink.
But remember ‘sports’ drinks should be used during or right after physical activity. These drinks should not be used as ‘lunch’ or ‘dinner’ drinks, or drank instead of water when not doing physical activity.
As a note, the greatest electrolyte loss in sweat is sodium, not potassium. The potassium losses in sweat are insignificant. Also note that the muscle cramps that one can develop in the heat while sweating a lot is not due to potassium losses but actually due to sodium losses. This is why sports drinks are mostly salt water.
Monitor your volume status
How do you test if you're well hydrated or dehydrated? Look at your urine color. The color of your urine first thing in the morning is a good indicator of how well you did hydrating the day before. If you did a good job hydrating the day before, the urine should look like "pale lemonade." If it looks like apple juice or if you only produce a small volume of urine first thing in the morning it means you did not do a good job hydrating the day before. Also of course you can monitor your urine color throughout the day – if it starts to look like ‘dark’ lemonade or apple juice you are dry and need to drink more.
Note thirst is not a great indicator of dehydration because of the lag time between being dehydrated before you become thirsty. Also the older you get the less sensitive thirst is as an indicator of dehydration.
Drink water to keep the ‘sea’ inside you pure
Your primary fluid intake should be water, and I promise you the more you drink water the better it will begin to taste to you. If you don’t believe me, just try it for yourself to test if it’s true.
Also note that it is okay to flavor your water by adding some non-sugar based flavor such as freshly squeezed lemon, lime, or other infused fruit. There are lots of water bottle infusers available where you drop fruit in the middle and fill the hand held container with water. The science is clear that humans tend to drink more fluids when the fluids are flavored.
Additionally, all the fluids that you consume including tea and coffee count towards your daily intake of fluid. The rule of thumb is: if the drink does not cause a diuretic effect (i.e. induces urination), it can count towards your daily requirement. For example, drinking beer would not count because if you drank a can of beer you would urinate out at least the amount of fluid that was in that can of beer but usually more. Recent research has shown that habitual coffee and tea drinkers develop a tolerance to the caffeine in these beverages and thus they do not cause significant diuretic effect.
Additionally, coffee and tea have some health benefits because they are whole foods (i.e. come directly from nature and consumed without processing). It is the phytonutrients in coffee and tea that give them health value. Some of these phytonutrients are antioxidants. It is not recommended though to drink more than two 12oz servings of coffee per day.
Drink water to lose weight
Drinking adequate amounts of water during weight loss is very critical and a lot of people start their downfall at losing weight because they either don’t know or refused to drink adequate amounts of water. So why is drinking water so critical during weight loss anyway? Here are the reasons:
1. During weight loss/fat cell loss, toxins are being released and need to be flushed out of your system or they can get ‘clogged’ in your kidneys and liver causing a slowing of your metabolism.
2. Adequate blood volume must be present to transport the fatty acids released from fat cells to the liver so they can be burned for fuel.
3. Water can help make you feel fuller; this is for two reasons: it takes up space in your stomach and some people confuse thirst with hunger. Their body is ‘telling’ them to “go and get us some water” via the thirst sensation but the person doesn’t listen so their body then says “go and get us some food then because food has some water in it.”
4. The chemical reactions that make up your metabolism are designed to occur in a ‘water filled’ environment. When the environment, that is your body, becomes less water filled or dehydrated key weight loss metabolic reactions either happen very slowly or not at all. Staying properly hydrated can boost your metabolism by up to 3% - which is equivalent to losing 6 to 9 pounds a year! There is no miracle weight loss drug out there that can touch this!
Keep the ‘sea’ within you full, pure, and flowing. Take pride in your sea being the purest. Also don’t forget to calculate how much water you really need on a daily basis while accounting for any extra water losses from exercise or warm environments. And lastly remember that staying properly hydrated during weight loss is key or else your dehydrated body will be a major factor blocking your weight loss.