- Diet & Weight Loss
The Easiest Way To Lose Weight
The easiest way to lose weight is to stop drinking soda pop, juice, alcohol, coffee, and other sugary drinks, and start drinking water.
In the United States, soda pop alone makes up more than 1/4 of all drinks consumed in the country. In 2000, more than 15 billion gallons of soda pop were sold in the United States. That's more than one 12-ounce can of soda pop every day for every man, woman, and child in the country.
A recent study found that a single 12 ounce can of soda per day can pile on up to 15 extra pounds per year, yet the most popular size bottle of soda pop is 20 ounces, the equivalent of 250 calories and 17 teaspoons of sugar. Some people like the 42 ounce cups you can get at fast food restaurants and convenience stores - that's 410 extra calories per day, and 35 teaspoons of sugar, almost 3/4 of a cup of sugar in just one drink!
Soda pop also increases the risk of developing diabetes. The same daily 12-ounce soda that adds 15 pounds a year to your waistline can also increase your risk of developing diabetes by as much as 85%.
But Diet Soda Has Zero Calories Just Like Water!
Diet soda is sweetened with artificial sweeteners that provide a sweet taste without any calories. As a result, most diet soda pop has zero calories, just like water.
Oddly, however, studies have found that people who drink diet soda pop tend to gain MORE weight over time than people who drink ordinary soda pop sweetened with regular sugar. At this point, nobody is completely sure why. It may be that people who drink diet soda simply use their zero calorie pop habit as an excuse to pile on the calories in other areas. However, there's also some evidence that artificial sweeteners may act as an appetite stimulant for some people. Another theory is that artificial sweeteners interfere with the body's ability to "recognize" when it has reached a certain level of calorie intake.
What About Other Drinks?
Well, fruit juice has about the same amount of calories and sugar as the equivalent amount of soda pop. It does have a little more nutritional content, but that's really the only good thing you can say about it, and it's still less nutritious than just eating a piece of fruit would be. Alcohol is also high in sugar and calories, and milk is high in calories and fat. You could try drinking skim milk, instead, but skim milk lacks some of the fat-soluble vitamins found in whole milk, which help your body absorb the calcium, so the health benefits of skim milk are overrated. Coffee and tea are low in both calories and sugar... until you start adding milk, tea, honey, or whatever your additive of choice is. They are also diuretics, which can actually lead to dehydration, slowing metabolism, causing fatigue, and encouraging water retention.
More Reasons Water Helps You Lose Weight
The fact that water has zero calories and no sugar isn't the only reason you should be drinking it if you want to lose weight. It can help you lose weight in other ways as well.
- Drinking water raises your metabolism. Water is necessary for cell metabolization. On average, cells require three grams of water to metabolize one gram of carbohydrates. When water levels in the body are too low, cells metabolize poorly and food is more likely to be converted to fat, instead of burned off immediately as energy. Studies in Germany have also found that the metabolism rate of both men and women increases by 30% after drinking a large amount of water (17 ounces in the studies), starting about 10 minutes after drinking and reaching its maximum rate about 30-40 minutes later. A higher metabolism rate means you'll burn more calories with less effort.
- Drinking water reduces water retention. It seems counter-intuitive, but drinking more water actually helps you lose water weight. When you don't drink enough water, the body starts to feel dehydrated, and when it starts to feel dehydrated, it tries to hang on to every drop of water it can, resulting in water retention and bloating. When you drink an adequate amount of water every day, your body uses and excretes water at a natural rate, preventing water retention and minimizing water weight.
- Drinking water reduces food cravings. Curiously, the brain has a hard time distinguishing between cravings for food and cravings for water, so many food cravings that people experience are actually cravings for water! If you find yourself craving a snack, your body might actually be signalling you that it is starting to feel dehydrated. Drink a glass of water and you may find that your craving disappears.
- Drinking water gives you more energy. Dehydration causes a reduction in blood volume, which can lead to too little oxygen reaching your cells, causing fatigue and tiredness. When your cells are getting enough oxygen, you feel energized and alive and are more likely to exercise regularly, socialize with others, and do other things that increase physical fitness and mental well-being.
- Drinking water improves hormone balance. Excessive levels of several hormones can lead to weight gain, and water helps flush excess hormones out of the body before they start affecting your health.
- Drinking a glass of water before a meal helps you eat less. Basically, the water fools your stomach into thinking it's fuller than it actually is, so you'll slow your eating sooner and be less likely to overeat than if you started on a completely empty stomach. Remember, it takes the mind 20 minutes to register that the stomach is full.
Making the Switch
The simplest way to start losing weight by drinking water is to drink water whenever you would normally have soda pop, juice, coffee, or other drink.
If you aren't used to the taste of plain water, there are several ways to make it more appealing.
- Many people enjoy carbonated water, also known as soda water, sparkling water, and seltzer, which has the carbonation of soda pop without the sugar, calories, and artificial additives.
- Others add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime.
- You can also get some of your daily water allotment from other sources. Fresh fruits and vegetables are low in calories, high in nutrients and dietary fiber, and may be up to 96% water by weight. Fruits and vegetables with the highest water content include cucumbers, celery, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, watermelon, and strawberries.
Depending on how often you drink other fluids, simply making the switch to plain water might be enough to keep you well-hydrated, but for most people, it won't be.
Your goal should be about 6-8 glasses of water spread out over the course of the day. (Drinking too much water at once can lead to water intoxication, a serious and occasionally fatal condition that is just as bad as getting too little water.)
The most common reason people fail to increase their water consumption to adequate levels is because of the inconvenience and embarrassment of frequent trips to the bathroom. However, in most cases, the frequent urination is only a temporary inconvenience. When your body is well hydrated after a long period of dehydration, it will start to release water it has retained as a security measure. This is what causes the frequent urination, and once your body readjusts to its new state of adequate hydration - usually within a few days to a week - the frequency of your trips to the bathroom should return to normal.
Stick with it! The benefits are worth it.
Good luck, and good health.