It's time to talk about water, and it's importance. Yeah you've all heard the fun facts, that humans are 72.8% water, and that while you can live for weeks without food, you can only live at most around 10 days without water. Here's a nifty little chart from survivaltopic.com that shows the predicted survival rates for dehydrated people at various temperatures:
|Max Daily Temperature||Number of Days in the Shade|
|No Water||1 Quart|
|120 F / 48.9 C||2 days||2||2||2.5||3||4.5|
|110 F / 43.3 C||3||3||3.5||4||5||7|
|100 F / 37.8 C||5||5.5||6||7||9.5||13.5|
|90 F / 32.2 C||7||8||9||10.5||15||23|
|80 F / 26.7 C||9||10||11||13||19||29|
|70 F / 21.1 C||10||11||12||14||20.5||32|
|60 F / 15.6 C||10||11||12||14||21||32|
|50 F / 10.0 C||10||11||12||14.5||21||32|
Kinda scary eh? What you don't realize is how incredibly, amazingly, fantastically, undeniably CRUCIAL water is to all bodily functions. There's no if's, ands, or buts about it, your body runs off the stuff. Without water, your body can't function, your blood can't flow, your muscles can't move, and your brain can't do a darn thing.
But if you're not in the middle of the Sahara, I'm willing to bet you're getting sufficient water to carry on throughout your day. If you're thirsty, you have a drink, and go on your merry way. It's simple, right? Eh...not so much. Most people nowadays are not drinking the recommended amount of water. For men, it's recommended to consume around 12-13cups (3.3L) of fluids a day. For women, that figure is about 9 cups. That's a lot of water! Mind you, most people do get water intake from sources outside liquid in a glass, however if it requires chewing, the amount of water you're taking in won't end up being too significant.
That leaves the majority of that fluid intake up to the actual liquids you drink. When's the last time you can remember drinking 3.3L of fluid of water in one day? Keep in mind that eight glasses of water is around 2L. And that's a LOT of water. Also, this is just a baseline number. If you do any sort of exercise, you should be drinking a decent amount more than this. 10-15 glasses of water a day for an active, average sized male. Wow.
So we've come to the conclusion that if you're like most people, on an average day you drink less than the recommended serving of water. That may not seem like too big a deal, you always get through your day, right? It's never posed too much of an issue. Now comes my job, trying to convince you to drink more by explaining how a few more sips of that refreshing clear liquid could do you more good than you could realize.
Here's just a few of the hundreds of benefits of drinking more water:
Increased energy: Many studies have shown that increasing your water intake throughout the day will cut down fatigue. I can personally vouch for this, after increasing my intake by about 5 glasses I've noticed much more energy, and a feel a LOT better in the afternoon.
Brain Function: Your brain is just like the rest of your body, made up of various tissues. These tissues are 85% water. If you become even slightly dehydrated, be prepared to notice a decrease in thinking ability/clear-headedness. Can't remember the name of that dude you met at the grocery store? Should've had a glass of water that morning...
Gym Performance: This one seems like a given. Your muscles need LOTS of water to function. Losing 2% of your bodily water will decrease your gym performance by 15-20%. Blood becomes thicker, oxygen doesn't flow as easily, and everything becomes slow, tired, and stiff. Drink more water and you may hit that new PR sooner than you think!
Muscle Mass: Muscles need nutrients to grow. Guess how they get those nutrients? You got it, water. Water keeps nutrients flowing into your muscles, so they can recover after a workout and grow larger and denser than they were before.
Fat Burning: According to an article on webmd.com, water can help increase your metabolic rate. One study showed that after 17 ounces of water (around 2 glasses) of water increased metabolic rate by about 30% for two hours. That's pretty significant, and could definitely help in any weight loss goals.
Feel full, eat less: My last article dealt with this. If you drink a full glass of water before and during every meal, your risk of over eating is drastically reduced. That much water takes up a good bit of space in your stomach, so you'll feel full faster. This is a must try if you're cutting back on calories and miss that full feeling after every meal.
Healthy kidneys: Water keeps those kidneys in tip-top condition and will help flush toxins out of the body.
Insulin levels: Water does not spike your blood insulin, so if you drink a glass and feel full for a while your rate of fat oxidation will remain higher than it would for flavored drinks.
I could go on for hours, but I'd like to discuss one final point. Some people just don't really like water, and how bland it is. I'm one of those people, and I find it hard to drink a lot of it. One glass is fine. 15? No thanks. But there's good news. Any sort of liquid will count toward your daily water intake. Sure it has to be filtered by your body first to remove the other stuff dissolved in it, but it'll still keep you hydrated. That means you can have that cup of coffee, or that mountain dew, and still enjoy the benefits of an increased daily water intake. No, it's not quite as good as the plain stuff, and I would suggest still getting a glass of water down with every meal. But hey, it's a start.
Does 15 glasses a day sound a little daunting? It did to me. But just like eating healthy, start SLOWLY. Add a glass in the morning when you get up. Just one. Then when you've gotten used to that extra bit of liquid, add another. Your body will soon become accustomed to the increased liquid intake, and you'll start to feel those oh-so-amazing benefits. I highly suggest you try this method.
Keep on chugging, stay hydrated, and good luck!