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Monday, August 6, 2007

Best Diet Ever: Drink one gallon of water a day


Yes, an entire gallon! Only oxygen is more urgently needed than water. Don't skimp on your water intake. Dehydration wreaks havoc on bodily processes and causes people to feel lethargic throughout the day. Dehydration can cause severe cramps during exercise, so ensure that you drink 16 oz. of water before any exercise and continue drinking during any strenuous exercise, especially if it's an outdoor activity and/or hot outside.

Staying properly hydrated will also help you not overeat when meal or snack times roll around. I've read that if you are dehydrated, your body misinterprets the thirst signal as hunger causing you to eat when you are really thirsty. I don't know that I buy that reasoning, but studies have shown that drinking water throughout the day, especially before meals, causes you to eat less because your stomach is full. Your brain gets the "I'm full. I can stop eating now" signal with less food.

Can you drink too much water?

It is possible to drink too much water, but it is very difficult. Within the past few months, a woman participating in a radio station's water drinking contest died after consuming large amounts of water in a short period of time. The actual cause of death in instances of water intoxication is an electrolyte imbalance, called hyponatremia, which draws water out of the cells in the body. Long distance endurance athletes, who do not supplement with electrolyte tablets, are especially susceptible to hyponatremia because excessive sweating for long periods of time deplete the body of both water and electrolytes, but drinking water alone is insufficient to replace lost electrolytes.

In summary, drinking a gallon of water a day is a good goal to achieve optimal hydration. If you are going to exercise for less than an hour, plain water is the best choice for hydration. If you are exercising in hot temperatures or for longer than an hour, a drink containing electrolytes, like Gatorade, is a better choice. If you are participating in an extremely long distance endurance event like running a marathon, ultra running, doing a century bike ride, or participating in an Ironman-distance triathlon, consider taking electrolyte tablets to maintain your electrolyte balance in addition to drinking frequently.

Do you think you drink enough during the day? Do you routinely take water with you when you exercise outdoors?

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