Water is an essential nutrient — that is, our bodies need it to survive. What you may not realize is we’re constantly losing water through sweat, breathing, urine and basic chemical and metabolic reactions within the body. Getting enough water, both from the food you eat and beverages you drink, balances this loss and helps keep the body properly hydrated. Staying hydrated isn’t always easy though, particularly if you don’t have a strong sense of thirst, live in a very hot or dry climate or exercise vigorously for extended periods of time. If you have a hard time getting enough liquids in throughout the day, here are three motivating reasons to drink more water:
1. Drinking plenty of water can help you lose weight
Drinking half a liter of water (17 fluid ounces or just over 2 cups) 30 minutes before meals can help you feel more full and eat fewer calories — 13 percent fewer calories on average according to one study.
Drinking more water can also boost your metabolism. Two studies found drinking the same half a liter can increase metabolism by 24 to 30% for up to 1.5 hours. Get in two liters of water throughout the day and you may burn up to an extra 100 calories. It is actually best to drink water cold, because then the body will use additional energy (calories) to heat the water to body temperature.
2. It’ll also boost brain function and energy levels
Studies show that even mild dehydration of 1–3% of body weight (1.5–4.5 pounds for a 150-pound person) can impair many aspects of brain function. It may sound like a lot of weight but someone could easily achieve this level of dehydration through daily activities.
In one study, young women with an average fluid loss of 1.36% after exercise experienced impaired mood, concentration and increased frequency of headaches.
Another study of young men showed an average fluid loss of 1.59% hindered memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue.
3. Drinking more water will help keep you regular
Chronic constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems, affecting nearly 15% of people in the United States. Women, especially during pregnancy or after giving birth, and older adults are especially susceptible since these populations are more prone to slowed digestive tracts.
What many people don’t understand is how important water is in keeping things moving through the digestive tract. When you don’t have enough water (even mildly dehydrated), the large intestine absorbs water from your food as it passes through. This makes your stool hard and difficult to pass.
Getting enough water keeps your digestive tract running smoothly and helps the fiber in your diet do its job, so drink up to keep things running as they should.