Home Blog Beverly Brewer Karpinski The Most Important Nutrient: Water

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Welcome to Fit to the Core’s “Everything you ever wanted to know about fitness” blog. Everyday people are bombarded with conflicting health and fitness messages by the media. It can be overwhelming. I hope to clear up some of those conflicting messages by sharing what I have learned over the years and what I am still learning. The fitness industry is a young industry that is constantly changing and evolving. Let me clear up some of the confusion.

Beverly Brewer Karpinski

The Most Important Nutrient: Water

With the temperature climbing into the triple digits, I thought it appropriate to talk about the importance of water to our health.  We have all been told to drink our 8-10 glasses of water per day.  But do you really know all the benefits of drinking enough water?

Water is the most important nutrient to our health.  It makes up about 55-60% of our body weight.  It is responsible for numerous functions of our body, protection against disease and is effective in promoting weight loss.

Water carries oxygen and nutrients to our cells while removing waste products out of the cells, kidneys and liver.  It also regulates our body temperature, lubricates our joints, cushions our organs and other body tissue, promotes digestion, cardiovascular function, helps prevent constipation and many more functions.  In addition, decreased water intake has been linked to kidney stones, bladder cancer and colorectal cancer.

One function of water that you may not be aware of is its role in metabolic functions that are involved in energy production.  This is important if you want to lose weight and/or improve your sports performance.  Our muscle tissue is composed of about 70% water (75% for men since they have more muscle than women).  A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that being adequately hydrated reduced the breakdown of muscle while increasing fat burning in the body.  Water is responsible for getting oxygen into the muscle cells, therefore increasing our energy level.  Just remember that properly hydrated cells have optimal metabolisms.  The great part is that water has zero calories.

Other research has shown that two glasses of water before each meal may be effective in a weight loss program.  One study published in 2008 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association divided dieters into two groups.  The first group drank 2 cups of water prior to each of their three meals while the other group did not drink the water.  The group drinking the water lost about 5 more pounds than the other group that did not drink the extra water.  The authors suggested that the increased water intake made the dieters feel fuller and therefore ate fewer calories. It was also shown to reduce body weight and body fat in women, independent of diet and activity in one study.

Okay, so you know the importance of drinking plenty of water.  But how much is enough?  You will find differing recommendations on how much is enough depending on the source.  However, according to The Institute of Medicine an adequate intake for sedentary women is about 9 cups of water and for men about 13 cups.  Notice I said sedentary.  If you exercise you will need to increase your water consumption.  My recommendation to my clients is to divide your weight by two and the result is how many ounces of water to drink per day.  If you are not used to drinking a lot of water, increase your intake gradually.  Find a large container to fill up each day with the appropriate amount of water you need.

Another way to determine if you are drinking enough water is to pay attention to the color of your urine.  It should be clear or a very pale yellow in color and should not have a strong odor.  However, if you take a lot of vitamins this may not be accurate.  Many vitamins will turn your urine bright yellow.

When exercising you will need to consume more water depending on your activity level, environment and climate.  The general recommendation for water intake before exercise is about 2 cups of water two hours prior to exercise, about 1 cup of water 10-20 minutes prior to exercise and continuing with about 6-8 ounces of water every 10-15 minutes of exercise.  Weighing yourself before and after exercise will help you determine how much water you need to drink after exercising.  For every pound you lose during exercise, you should consume about 3 cups of water.  If you exercise longer than 90 minutes you may need to drink a beverage that will replace electrolytes, such as Gatorade.

If exercising outdoors please don't go out without your water--especially if you live in a hot climate like Phoenix.  I can't tell you the number of times I see people out running in 100 degree temperatures without any water.

If you are not a water drinker here are some tips for helping you to become one:

  1. If you are a soda drinker start by replacing one soda per day with water instead.  Each week replace another soda with water with the goal of eliminating soda from your diet (even if you drink diet soda).  This is a great way to lose a lot of weight!  Sodas with artificial sweeteners can actually increase your appetite causing you to overeat.
  2. If you don’t like the taste of water try adding a little fruit juice, such as pomegranate juice, or a squeeze of lemon or lime.  Adding sliced cucumbers and mint to your water is also a refreshing drink.
  3. Start every morning, first thing, with a large glass of water.
  4. Drink a 16-ounce bottle of water before each meal.  If you are eating six meals and snacks per day, that will give you 96-ounces of water per day.
  5. It’s important to keep water with you at all times.  Keep a bottle in your purse, in your car, at work—never be without it!
  6. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water, especially on exercise days.
  7. Don’t try to increase too quickly.  Add an extra cup or two each week until you are at your optimal level.
  8. If you have a hard time remembering to drink water, set a timer or alarm to go off periodically while sitting at your computer.  Keep a checklist on your desk to keep track of how many glasses you are drinking throughout the day.  You can also fill up a pitcher with the water you need to drink and make sure it is gone by the end of the day.

If there is one thing you can do to immediately improve your health, lose weight and increase your energy—this is it.  Be sure you are getting plenty of this most important nutrient—water!

Photo Credit: Kevin Pelletier

About the author

Beverly Brewer Karpinski
Beverly Brewer Karpinski
• Owner and director of "Fit to the Core" In-Home Personal Training
• Health and Fitness Inc. Certified Personal Trainer, 2001
• A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, 2004
• Certified Master Fitness by Phone Coach, 2005
• Strength & Conditioning Personal Trainer Certificate, Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, AZ, 2008
• Wellness Editor, Puma Press, 2007-2008
• Currently in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise & Wellness.
• Fitness Manager & Director, Curves for Women, 2004-2006
• In-Home personal training, 2002-Present
• Personal Trainer, Naturally Women, 2004-2006
• Personal Trainer, Total Woman, 2001-2004
• Core Stability Specialty Training, Health and Fitness, Inc., 2001
• Advanced Biomechanics Training, Health and Fitness, Inc., 2001


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