As we move into summer, I want to take a moment to discuss something that is very important to me, not only because I have spent the past four years studying various applications of nutrition, but also because I personally have seen the results of the varying degrees of hydration. As children, we were told that we should try to consume 64 ounces of water per day.
I can recall being lucky if I willingly drank more than a few cups of water per day. Even then, it was usually after I’d been running around and playing outside and was notably thirsty. As an adult, I started studying nutrition and athletics. I never really put much thought into the role that hydration plays in performance and weight maintenance until my husband joined the Marine Corps.
Suddenly my husband was starving himself and doing trash bag runs to try and lose weight to leave for boot camp. Somehow these practices didn’t seem like the appropriate way to lose weight and prepare the body for maximum effort, but what did I know? At that point I’d only taken a couple of nutrition classes and didn’t consider myself overweight. He did make weight, but in the years following, our weight is something that we both still have to stay diligent to maintain.
Recently, my husband and I had a debate over hydration and its role in weight loss. He was from the school of thought that avoiding water was the way to drop water weight, while I argued in the other corner. I lost thirty pounds about three years ago and, for the most part, have been able to keep it off. This is unlike my husband who can fluctuate ten pounds in a week. I attribute much of my success to plenty of water.
When I first started losing weight, I would drink sixteen ounces of cold water first thing in the morning before I began the rest of my daily routine. The remainder of the day I carried around a water bottle and refilled it as needed. I aimed to drink at least 64 ounces of water each day. It was amazing the difference that hydration made; I was less hungry, I had more energy, and much better endurance.
I was able to complete three hours of exercise classes without getting fatigued, and I still had energy to go to class, do my homework, and go to work. I have found that exercise actually does increase energy and focus, but I also feel that hydration amplifies these results.
I teach several classes on base and I notice the difference the most when I teach the outdoor classes; when I’m hydrated I feel like I could take the class twice, versus when I haven’t had enough water I can barely get to the end of the hour without feeling the effects of the heat.
That being said, I encourage you all to take a look at your hydration. Are you drinking enough water? How much is enough? I usually try to aim for a minimum of half my body weight in ounces of water per day, up to about a gallon.
I am physically active and live in a humid climate so I sustain larger water losses than some of you might. The key is to find what works for you.
There is a fine line between enough water and too much. It helps to increase your water intake gradually to allow your body to adapt and help you avoid that sloshing feeling every time you stand up.
I promise it is worth every ounce! I feel so much better when I’m hydrated and I hope that you can find the same benefits for yourself. Drink up!