Plus: How to know if you’re dehydrated and tips to up your water intake.

Credit: Jennifer Causey

When we think of losing weight, our minds typically go to the foods we consume and how much exercise we get. While those are key elements of weight loss, if we focus on those items alone, we are missing other pieces of the weight-loss puzzle—including the role that water plays in weight loss and in our overall health and well-being.  

Here, we look at why water is so important for maintaining our health and managing our weight, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of dehydration, how much water we actually need to drink each day, and tips to help you drink more water.

Water’s Role in Weight Loss & Well-being 

When you look at the daily habits that are touted as a part of any wellness routine, drinking water is always at the top of the list.  But why is drinking water so important to our overall health, and why does it have such an impact on our ability to lose weight? Considering the fact that water makes up approximately 60% of our body, it should come as no surprise that it is absolutely necessary to good health. Let’s take a look at 10 key reasons to drink more water to support your overall well-being and help you lose weight:  

1. Water impacts our health at the cellular level, making up at least 70% of each cell and supporting cell structure.  

2. Water is vital to the survival and function of nearly all of the body’s systems. 

3.Water helps regulate our internal body temperature through perspiration and respiration. 

4. Water helps our bodies break down fats and other lipids through the metabolic process called lipolysis

5. Water transports nutrients in our bloodstream and aids in digestion. 

6. Water flushes waste out of our bodies. 

7. Water contains zero calories, allowing us to reduce caloric intake when we replace other calorie-containing liquids with water.

8. Water supports proper brain function. 

9. Water aids in the lubrication of our joints. 

10. Drinking more water helps us feel full, allowing us to decrease the amount of food we take in without feeling deprived.

How to Know If You’re Dehydrated

Even with all we know about the importance of drinking water and how it helps our bodies, many people still don’t drink enough. It has been reported that up to 75% of Americans live in a chronic state of dehydration.  

Symptoms of dehydration range from mild to more severe, so it’s important to pay attention when you begin to feel thirsty or notice your mouth feeling dry.  Even those mild symptoms suggest that you are already dehydrated.  

Feeling thirsty, having dry mouth, lips, and eyes, and using the bathroom less often are some of the most common symptoms of mild dehydration. If not dealt with early on, dehydration can also cause fatigue, irritability, brain fog, constipation, and a rapid pulse. 

How Much Water Do I Need to Drink? 

You’ve probably heard that you need to drink 64 ounces of water each day. While it’s not a bad start, it’s probably not enough. An easy trick for getting enough water each day is to take your body weight and divide it by two: That is the minimum number of ounces of water (pure H2O, not tea or coffee or any other water-containing liquids) you should be drinking each day. 

It’s also important to note that hydration should be constant—not just at meals and before and after workouts. The goal is to stay hydrated consistently and then to supplement with additional water when you are sweating heavily, spending time in the heat, or exercising. 

5 Easy Ways to Drink More Water 

1. Start early. One of the easiest ways to begin to add water to your daily intake is by starting your day with it. While your coffee is brewing or morning tea is steeping, drink a glass of water.  

2. Use a 1:1 ratio of water to other beverages. When you’re drinking something other than water, add water as well. Go for at least a 1:1 ratio of water to any other beverages; it will help increase your daily water intake, slow down the calories taken in from the other drinks, and help you feel full faster. 

3. Sip water through a straw. Did you know you drink more through a straw than you do sipping from a cup? My advice to my clients is always to drink water through a straw and drink all other beverages by sipping from the cup. You’ll drink more water and less of the liquids that may contain excess calories.  

4. Find the perfect water jug or cup. I have my favorite water cup: it’s the perfect size to fit comfortably in my hand, doesn’t sweat, is insulated to keep my water cool, and has a straw!  

5. Drink, refill, repeat. Once you find that favorite cup, keep it handy. As soon as you’ve finished the water in your cup, fill it back up and repeat! 

Water is one of the most effective, easiest, least expensive, and most readily available tools you have at your disposal to help you lose weight and improve your health. Grab a glass and drink up! Your body will thank you for it.

Julie Floyd Jones is an Atlanta, Georgia-based, certified corporate wellness specialist, certified personal trainer and certified yoga instructor. She is the program director for Excellence in Exercise, where she works with corporate partners to provide wellness solutions for employees globally. She is the founder of Training & Champagning Curated Wellness Retreats and Thrive