What happens when you don’t drink enough water?
There are several factors that help determine how much water we need to be drinking throughout the day in order to be healthy and feel great. Age (elderly people need less water), activity level (challenging workouts and sauna therapy require more water), diet (high protein, sodium, or fiber-rich diets require more water), climate (hot, dry climate, or an elevated terrain require more water), and certain medications all play an important role in the formula that affects how much water we need as individuals.
How much water do we need to drink daily? What are the side effects of dehydration?
The formula of how much water we should drink isn’t a one size fits all but the general guideline tells us that we should be drinking around 2 liters a day, or, a bit more accurately, for every kilogram of body mass multiply it by 30.
And you don’t need to be drinking water exclusively, you can also reach your daily needs by incorporating a lot of veggies, fruits and beverages like tea or even the controversial coffee.
But does not drinking enough water have extreme negative side effects?
Many people claim that if you don’t stay hydrated throughout the day, your energy levels and brain function will start to not function properly. Studies actually support this idea.
One study in women showed that a fluid loss of 1.36% after exercise impaired mood and concentration and increased the frequency and severity of headaches.
Other studies show that a mild dehydration of about 1 to 3% of body weight) caused by exercise or heat can harm many other aspects of brain function.
And we’ve probably all experienced the negative effect that dehydration has on out physical performance, decreasing our endurance.
Does drinking more water help with losing weight?
There are many claims that increased water intake may help us shed some pounds by increasing our metabolism and reducing our appetite.
According to two studies, drinking 17 ounces (500 ml) of water – especially colder water, because the body will need to expend more calories to heat the water to body temperature – can temporarily boost metabolism by 24–30%.
The researchers estimated that drinking 68 ounces (2 liters) in one day increased energy expenditure by about 96 calories per day.
Additionally, drinking water about half hour before meals can also reduce the number of calories you end up consuming, especially in older individuals.
Overall, it seems that drinking adequate amounts of water, particularly before meals, may have a significant weight loss benefit, like, for example, there was this one study that showed that dieters who drank 17 ounces (500 ml) of water before each meal lost 44% more weight over 12 weeks, compared to those who didn’t.
Drinking water leads has positive health effects
Several health problems supposedly respond well to increased water intake:
- Constipation aid
- Preventing some forms of cancer (like bladder and colorectal cancer)
- Decreases kidney stones risks
- Reduces acne and keeps the skin hydrated
So clearly, the takeaway messages should be that drinking water is essential for a healthy lifestyle and that the 8×8 rule (2 liters a day) is completely arbitrary.
There are certain circumstances that may call for increased water intake like times of increased sweating (exercise and hot weather, especially in a dry climate).
Also, your water needs also get increased during breastfeeding, as well as several disease states like vomiting and diarrhea.
Furthermore, older people may need to consciously watch their water intake because the thirst mechanisms can start to malfunction in old age.
How Much Water Is Best?
At the end of the day, no one can tell you exactly how much water you need. This depends on the individual.
Try experimenting to see what works best for you. Some people may function better with more water than usual, while for others it only results in more frequent trips to the bathroom.
If you want to keep things simple, just make sure that you drink some no or low calorie liquids whenever you feel thirsty. Plus, you should up your intake when the temperatures are high and when you exercise a lot.