Ready to amp up your weight loss efforts? Sip a huge glass of H20 before meals. A new study says that drinking water 30 minutes before every meal could help you lose 9 1/2 pounds in 12 weeks. Wow! We love this study, because it cuts through a lot of the confusion buzzing in the media about Mother Nature’s ultimate health drink.
Water makes up 60 percent of your body and keeps every system humming, supporting sharp thinking and a bright mood, preventing constipation, keeping the shock absorbers in your joints plump, delivering nutrients and hauling off waste products. It helps energize your muscles, cools you off and makes your skin glow. According to the Institute of Medicine, women need 11 cups every day (1 cup equals 8 ounces) and men closer to 16. But 40 percent of adults younger than 50, and 50 percent to 80 percent of those 50 and older, don’t get that much.
The long-running water debate could be getting in the way. Experts disagree about how much water we really need, how much we get from food, whether tap or bottled is safer and how much is too much. So, here’s how to figure what you need, every day.
No. 1: Find your target. To determine what you need, divide your weight by two and drink that amount in ounces every day. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 72 ounces, equal to about 9 cups. But don’t have fewer than about 8 cups a day. Tea, milk and juice count toward your total, and so does coffee (it doesn’t act as a diuretic unless you’ve had more water than your body needs). Water in fruit, veggies and even bread contributes an additional 20 percent to your total. But don’t subtract that from the amount you sip unless you always eat enough veggies and fruit, which most folks don’t. You also can look at your urine. If you’re getting enough water, you could read a newspaper through it — just don’t try.
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No. 2. Don’t worry about overdoing it. You’d have to guzzle a gallon or more every hour to get in serious trouble with water. Hyponatremia, mostly a concern for endurance athletes, is the life-threatening condition in which levels of electrolytes in your blood become diluted and your body can’t function normally. Those athletes sweat out needed salt while drinking large amounts of water over long periods of time.
No. 3. Have more if ... Your body needs extra fluids when the weather’s hot and you’ve been exercising; you’re pregnant or breastfeeding; you’ve got a fever; have diarrhea; or have been vomiting. Then drink an extra 1 1/2 to 2 cups. Talk with your doc if you have heart failure, a kidney condition or another health issue. Make sure to ask because in some circumstances less is better than more.
No. 4: Time it right for weight loss. In that fantastic new study, volunteers drank about 17 ounces of water (slightly more than two cups) a half-hour before breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thirty minutes before is key. Participants who consistently “preloaded” with H20 lost 9 1/2 pounds, while the control group lost 1 3/4 pounds. This seems to work by making you not thirsty and making you feel full before you eat. And that helps keep you from eating in order to satisfy your thirst (yup, you do that).
No. 5: Invest in a water bottle and a filter for your faucet. BYO can save money and the environment. It takes 17 million barrels of crude oil to create the 30 billion plastic bottles used each year, and each plastic bottle requires more than a gallon of water to produce. Then four out of five wind up in landfills! Often, bottled water just comes from a tap, so why not use your own? Get a “green” bottle, install a quality filter (read the label!) on your faucet, fill ‘er up and don’t leave home without it. Now, enjoy that sweet sip of success.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.