Posted on February 05, 2018 by Emily Forbes

Following on from Kate’s “Are you drinking enough” blog. I wanted to expand on the current research relating to hydration. I am currently doing further studies in nutrition which is completely evidence based, and I found some of the recent content quite interesting. So for this blog I wanted to look at hydration and weight loss and whether water intake does play an important role if you’re looking to lose a pound or two.

Kate discussed the different things that can effect hydration including gender, environment and activity levels. But many people might not think of the actual role water plays in the body.

  • Water is there to dissolve and transport substances like vitamins and other nutrients around the body.
  • Blood plasma is mostly made up of water and is the transport vessel for the dissolved nutrients, hormones and proteins.
  • Our tissues are also protected and lubricated by water.
  • And lastly, it is important in immunity, acting as a first line of defence in the mouth where the saliva is an antiseptic, killing bacterium.

One of the things that get batted around the fitness industry, which I am guilty of myself, is that water is required for effective weight loss. But the current research into this is quite limited. Most studies are done in animal models which don’t have good cross over to humans and also poor study design. The only benefits water might have in weight loss are that it can marginally suppress appetite and increase gastric emptying. Hydration can also affect energy levels. So if you are dehydrated you may feel more lethargic and move less or not want to exercise, burning fewer calories.

This isn’t to say that water doesn’t have a role in performance and training though. So don’t ditch the bottle just yet. It is always advised to start a workout well hydrated. Dehydration can lead to an acute drop in blood pressure and increased heart rate. We may feel dizzy and light headed because of this. The rate of perceived exertion will also be greater, meaning exercise is going to feel much harder. Our core body temperature can also increase as we don’t produce enough sweat to cool down effectively and can be quite dangerous.

Sometimes our jobs make it difficult to consume water throughout the day. Some drinks are better at hydration than others. Still water is actually not the best source. On the beverage rehydration index, oral rehydration solution and milk rank the highest in terms of fluid retention. So if you struggle to get fluids in during the day, choosing one of those might be better at keeping you hydrated.

The best ways to stay hydrated

  • Carry a water bottle with you
  • Choose palatable drinks (sugar free squash, tea/coffee-just avoid lots of double espressos)
  • Check urine colour for hydration status (this is a strong indicator; it should be a very light, pale colour. Some things can alter urine colour though. Be wary when eating beetroot or some B vitamins which can make it fluorescent)
  • Food can also be included in fluid intake. Think fruit, salad, veg, smoothies & soups.

The bottom line is, water is essential for health, energy and performance and should not be neglected. But the jury is still out on the how much benefit it has in terms of weight loss.