The Water Diet: Drink Water, Lose Weight and Build Muscles

Tiffany Reis
Feb 3, 2011

With all of the pills, programs, cleanses, shakes, drugs, hormones, and diet plans available today, the popular message that everyone is hearing is, “If you want to look like a celebrity, you need to be willing to spend like one as well” Sure, all of these products and companies offer results, but at such a high cost that the average person is left without too much hope for success. If this describes you, then you’re not alone. The simple truth that the weight loss companies don’t want you to know is that healthy living can actually be affordable! In fact, one of the absolute best weight loss tools in the world won’t cost you anything but the flip of a faucet.

Muscular Man Drinking Water to Stay Hydrated

We have all heard the “eight, 8oz. glasses of water every day” rule at one point in time or another. We all know that we are supposed to be drinking that magic number. It has also been said that water is extremely important while dieting and seeking to lose weight. However, for those of us that, like a little kid, always have to ask, “Why?” there isn’t a lot of elaboration out there. Sure, we have all heard some reference to how vital water is to our functioning, etc, etc, but what does it all really mean? With the absence of clear, quality information, water intake, much like nutrition label reading, falls to the wayside as something to be done “eventually”. Well, it’s time to shed light on the little mystery of the magic 64oz/day rule and just how that tasty stuff really helps your body! Let’s start by talking about your muscles!

Muscles are the things in the body that hold the greatest volume of water. They soak it up and store it like a sponge, and water is vital to their functioning and maintenance. This is actually the reason why the “muscle weighs more than fat” mantra rings true; lean muscle mass is full of water, which makes it significantly more dense than the elastic fat cells. Muscles also generate the most energy in your body. What this means for dieters and those working out is that if you’re not in taking everything your body needs, it will attack your muscles for the nutrients, protein, energy, and (especially) water that it is lacking. However, this is not what any of us want to happen! We want to preserve our lean muscle mass and get rid of that stubborn fat, not keep the fat and lose the muscle! What is a dieter to do?! Don’t panic, there is an answer!

One of the very best ways to preserve your lean muscle mass while dieting is to intake the appropriate amount of water. When the body is not getting enough water, as earlier mentioned, it will start to pull it out of the muscles to use for all of its normal processes. Over a short period of time, this will lead the muscle to begin to atrophy (break down), and will lead to an increase in body fat. Fat naturally surrounds muscles, organs, and other structures for insulation and cushion. So, when the muscles start shrinking and disappearing, all that is left is the fat. This shows as weight loss on the scale, but it’s not the weight that we want you to be losing! So, if you are dieting, it is essential to get enough water every day so that your body does not sabotage your efforts to look and feel fabulous after you lose weight. Drinking the right amount of water will also help to naturally fire up your metabolism and fat-burning potential, which is every dieter’s dream. Who knew the world’s best weight loss, fat burning secret would be a free substance?!

“How much is enough?” you might be asking. Well, the 64oz a day rule is a good starting point, but that is just the tip of the iceberg in most cases. In order to avoid muscle mass depletion, most people need to have about 50-60% of their total body weight being water weight; that is to say, they should be 50-60% hydrated. Don’t get scared, those percentages can be translated into easier terms. The 64oz a day is the base rule for most individuals who are within their healthy weight range. A good standard rule of thumb for those of us who are overweight (and seeking to change that) is to add an additional 8oz of water for every 25lbs overweight we are. You should also increase your water intake by another 8oz for every 30 minutes of exercise you perform each day. This is especially important for fat burning, muscle building, and energy maintenance during periods of increased activity. This might add up and seem like a lot (almost too much) water intake, but with a little time, attention, and effort it is entirely do-able.

Enjoying your increased water intake will happen overnight. Often times, it takes up to a few weeks of solid water intake before you will adjust to the change and stop feeling like a fish. One complaint that a lot of people have when they begin to drink the right amount of water is that they feel like they are running for the bathroom every five minutes. This actually might be true, initially, but it will quickly cease. What is actually happening here is that your body is recognizing that it is finally getting its appropriate amount of water, and that will release it from its “save every ounce” conservative state it enters into to compensate for water shortage. Thus, it will start to release some of the water weight that it likes to store around your ankles, hands, hips, abdominals, and other places that tend to lend to a bloated look. Thus, losing this stored water will help you drop pounds as well as inches- wonderful! While this might have you running for the restroom more often, it will be relatively short-lived, and the benefits of a permanent increase in water intake will last and far outweigh any minor inconveniences.

Now that you know exactly how water can help you in your dieting efforts, stick around and keep reading! In the next article, I will provide some easy tips and tricks to help you hit your personal magic water intake level, as well as some additional benefits!

(Tiffany is a weight loss counselor in Omaha, NE. She enjoys biking, running, rollerblading, and competing in recreational volleyball and soccer leagues in her spare time, and has participated in a few local marathons for various causes.)

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