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Hunger or Hydration - What is Your Body Really Asking For

Updated on May 20, 2015

Listen to you body and become your own best health advocate. Often we think our body is telling us that we are hungry when in reality, we are simply lacking hydration - we are in reality simply thirsty! How can we know for sure? Simple - drink a glass of water. If the glass of water satisfies you, you know your body was telling you it is thirsty.

Water Before Every Snack - Change Our Daily Habits

As a personal trainer, I literally shout hydration to my clients. All too often my clients have muscle cramps from not consuming enough water. When the body is dehydrated and then we exert ourselves - even in swim fitness, our body yells with muscle cramps - often in the legs.

Our body will tell us what we need. We simply need to listen.

Human body liquid assets - hydration benefits
Human body liquid assets - hydration benefits
Human Body is 75% Water
Human Body is 75% Water

Water and Our Body Composition

"Regarding specific tissues: Lean muscle tissue contains about 75% water by weight. Blood contains almost 70% water, body fat contains 10% water and bone has 22% water. Skin also contains much water. The human body is about 60% water in adult males and 55% in adult females." source:

How can we improve and start listening to our body better? Change our daily habits. Add a glass of water before every snack. It takes our body about 30 minutes to process food and water. Simply grab a glass of water 30 minutes before your snack.

Water Before Every Meal

Likewise, get into the habit of having a glass of water before every meal - again, preferably 30 minutes before you consume your meal.

Your Heart Needs Water

"Drinking five or more glasses of water a day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease." 2

Science has proven the correlation between heart disease and the need for proper hydration in addition to the importance of pure clean water. In a clinical study: "The National Academy of Sciences concluded

"An optimum conditioning of drinking water could reduce the amount of cardiovascular disease mortality by as much as 15% in the U.S.’(10)"3

High Risk Populations - Elderly

Important Fact: The human body CANNOT store water.

We are responsible for replacing fluids on a daily basis.

"Body water turnover rate is estimated to be 4 percent of total body weight to maintain normal body functions, which include excretion of body waste and evaporation from the lungs and skin. Recommendations for adequate water intake by adults are generally based upon several factors: humidity, temperature, altitude, exercise status, and use of diuretic medications."

Dehydration in the Elderly

"Dehydration occurs when water balance is negative; that is, intake of water is less than its loss (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 1996). This issue is especially pertinent to older adults when total available body water has decreased because of losses in muscle mass, changes in the cells as people age, less efficient kidney function, and reduced thirst sensation. Thirst is usually the most important mechanism used to increase water consumption. When the volume of body water decreases, thirst signals the brain and triggers the person to consume fluids. Older adults, compared with other segments of the population, have impaired responses to reduced body water; thus, they are most vulnerable to dehydration."

Reasons to drink water
Reasons to drink water | Source

Health information - Water Hydration and Muscle Cramping
Ever wake up in the middle of the night clutching your calf in pain? Often called a "Charlie Horse," this is just one type of cramp that could be prevented by being more hydrated. (Talk about leading a horse to water....) Cramps are the involuntary muscle contraction. It is the muscles way of saying you need to add water. Just as a flower or plant wilts with lack of water, so too, our body responds with an automatic contraction of the muscles. The muscle cramps from lack of hydraiton are most commonly in the legs or extremities.

Muscle Cramps - Lack of Water Common

" Theory #1. Lack of water. Cramps often occur when an athlete is dehydrated.

On a daily basis, drink enough fluids so you have to urinate every two to four hours. Your urine should be light colored and copious.

During extended exercise, drink as much as tolerated, optimally 8 ounces every 15-20 minutes. "

Copyright November, Nancy Clark, MS, RD author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook 4th Edition.

Important Fact About Drinking Water

The body CANNOT store water.

Elderly Especially At Risk for Lack of Hydration

Lack of water - from drinking liquids to hydration from foods is a significant health concern for all of us. For some, lack of hydration may lead to over eating. For the elderly, lack of hydration may pose serious medical problems such as muscle spasms, renal dysfunction, increased risk of bladder cancer and even death. Amazingly, we can live without food but we cannot live without water = hydration is critical.

Research in 2002 detailed that the elderly are at a higher risk - a very high risk - one in three are lacking hdyration.

photo courtesy of
photo courtesy of
  • Hydration Affects Our Metabolism

    Our bodies tell us when we need to drink more water. There is a balance needed to keep the body working at top form, and this can affect your metabolism and other important bodily functions. When we are kids, we know when we are thirsty and we ask fo

Water for Weight Loss

Changing your habits, adding water before every meal and every snack may also deliver some extra benefits of greater muscle retention, higher metabolism and possibly less weight.

Diets need to start and end and always be reminded of hydration. You must actively think about is hydration. Remember, drinking water is one of the best and easiest things you can do for your body and for losing weight.

Clinical studies have shown that 37% of us mistake hunger for thirst!

Change Your Metabolic Rate by 30%

"Drinking 500 ml of water can increase your metabolic rate by 30% and helps to convert food into energy."1

Hydrate Your Muscles First

Muscles are made of 75% of water. Hydrate your muscles first. Our body is 70% water - our muscles are 75% water. Muscles have the power to change our metabolism and make the greatest changes in our body composition and overall appearance and total body weight.

Don't confuse hunger with thirst. How can you tell the two apart? Easy--drink a glass of water if you think you're hungry. If that satisfies you, it was thirst. As a preventative measure, reach for water before snacks and about half an hour before meals. You'll likely drop some extra weight as an added benefit.

Share Your Experience

Have you found yourself hungry when in retrospect perhaps you were really thirsty?

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Has This Information Change The Way You View Food and Your Hunger?

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Education is the Key to Diet and Nutrition

Education is the key to diet and nutrition. If we learn what our body is really asking for and deliver the real needs of your body, we can provide better fuel and feel better both physically and emotionally.

  • Your body needs hydration, more water because:
  • Weight Loss
  • More Energy
  • Protect Organs
  • Regulates Body Temperature
  • Flushes Toxins
  • Moisturizes Skin and Tissue - Internal and External

© 2010 Kelly Kline Burnett


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    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 5 years ago from Fontana, WI


      You make a very good point, dehydration is often a cause of disease. It is also a peril of the elderly. An elderly lady at church has been wisely advised to drink plenty of water but the truth is all of us need this reminder. In swim fitness it is especially important, we think since we are in the swimming pool we are hydrated but exercise makes us dehydrated on the inside.

    • Doodlehead profile image

      Doodlehead 5 years ago from Northern California

      It is interesting the sports community is somewhat isolated in its knowledge and pursuit of hydration when dehydration is also a cause of many routine disease states.

      I hope you continue to get the word out; it is very needed information.

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 5 years ago from Fontana, WI


      What an important point you make about hydration. This knowledge is critical. You are a credit to humanity by sharing your story.

      I have never heard of this before - I truly had no idea dehydration could cause such physical damage. I knew it was troubling but the severity did not come up in my research.

      I will be sure to read your hub - thank you so much for sharing.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      Very informative Hub. I agree: People don't drink enough water. I lost a kidney because I didn't drink enough. I wrote a Hub about that, encouraging people to drink more water. I will vote this Hub UP, etc.

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Fontana, WI


      We often don't understand what our body is telling us and learning the mechanics makes us better managers. Struggling with weight needs nutrition and exercise education but also hydration.

      Drinking water is wonderful and our body is built for drinking water.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this needful and wonderfully made article. You are spot on. Well done!

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Fontana, WI

      Love water but the soda pop industry is hard to overcome. The sugar is a diet buster. Learning about nutrition is critical and hydration is the first step. Looking forward to reading about nutrition - thank you for stoppin by.

    • Active Nutrition profile image

      Active Nutrition 7 years ago from Sammamish, WA

      Excellent compilation of facts. I'm going to go drink a big glass of water now!

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Fontana, WI


      Thank you so much for your appreciation. I did my best to give great tips - glad my hard work shows.


      Sadly we eat because we think we are hungry when in fact we are simply thirsty. You are right, too many of us are dehydrated. Often my fitness clients find out how dehydrated they are with cramps - the muscles respond and tell them!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 7 years ago from the short journey

      This hub should be highlighted daily. Too many of us are dehydrated!

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 7 years ago from Central United States of America

      You are so right-on. There are some great tips to put into use. Thank you!

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Fontana, WI


      Excellent point. I didn't realize the elderly had this issue until I was researching this topic - but it makes so much sense. Your experience is an important affirmation. Thank you for sharing.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      I really like this hub. It is very well written and your topic is one that is truly important. My elderly mother has never been one to drink enough water and she has colitis. He blood pressure is usually very high but it started dropping down to very low numbers. Finally I got her to increase her liquid intake substantially and her low blood pressure has stopped being a problem

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 7 years ago from Great Britain

      I found this so , so helpful. Thank you. Nicely done.

    • profile image

      Philip 7 years ago

      Excellent information! Most people do not realize the importance. Thank you for sharing!

      What do you know about alkalining the body?

      What do you know about micro-structured water?

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Fontana, WI


      Yes, you are right - my timing is good. I am jealous with spring water - oh, wow! Very special!

    • TheRepublicofLife profile image

      TheRepublicofLife 7 years ago from Earth

      Excellent and timely article for the hot summer. I drink a couple glasses first thing when I wake up. Good spring water (not tap)

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Fontana, WI


      You are absolutely correct! I love energy drinks but those and alcohol should not be considered hydration. And the calories and sodium in energy drinks - oh, my - that is whole other story!

      Thank you so much for your kind words and stopping by. I greatly appreciate it.

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 7 years ago from Holly, MI

      Yes it is soooo important to stay hydrated. I went running this morning and I passed another runner that had no water bottle. I do not know how people do this? I have to carry a bottle with me. How is your body suppose to function when you sweat out all the fluids and you don't replenish. Then so many people drink gatorade or energy drinks. They only make you thirstier. It's like people are allergic to water. lol Excellent hub!