The French have outdone themselves with the air and water diet, it’s called: “L’Air Fooding”. Here’s what you do: Eat nothing and drink lots of water. On the plus side, the diet allows you to occasionally drink salt soup. The way it works, and I’m not kidding, is you pretend to eat. With a full plate of food in front of you, go through all the motions of eating but don’t actually put any food in your mouth. Look at the food, smell it, tease your stomach, then pick up a forkful of air and swallow it. Channel your inner Marcel Marceau. Sounds yummy and filling, where do I sign up? If you believe this works I have another diet for you: The Long Breath Diet – breathe your fat away!!
You are 70% water (give or take). Our bones, muscles, blood, organs contain copious amounts of H20. Like air, water is a need. In its absence, your mouth will dry, your lips will crack, your tongue will swell, your body temperature will rise, heart rate will increase and eventually your organs will shut down. The average human can live for 3 to 5 days without water. However, this isn’t something you should test. Writing about death by dehydration makes me thirsty.
I’d like to discuss one particular organ and its relationship with water. The liver is perhaps the most important organ in the body for the breakdown of fat (among other things). If you are even the slightest dehydrated your liver will not be able to work at full capacity. Thirst is your body’s way of telling you that you are lacking water. By taking in 5-15 glasses of water per day (the 8 glass rule for all does not really pan out because of differing body sizes, hydration capacities, intake of water-dense foods, ambient temperature, strenuous activity etc.) you can ensure the liver is working properly and breaking down fats productively.
Research has shown increases in water consumption are directly in proportion to decreases in high-calorie drinks consumed. Duh. That being said, I recommend the bulk of your beverage choices be either water, unsweetened tea, coffee (no sugar), or a glass of wine. You should stay away from everything else including:
- Soda – empty calories and tons of sugar; and didn’t your mother ever tell you it’ll rot your teeth?
- Diet Soda – the fake sugar tricks your body to increase your appetite; studies show people who drink diet soda tend to gain weight – but not always.
- Juice – lots of fructose and calories coupled with next to nothing in fiber; not much different than having a tablespoon of sugar with some vitamins.
- Smoothies (unless its low sugar and has lots of fiber) – way to much sugar and calories; some Jamba Juice drinks are over 700 calories!
- Beer – has maltose sugar which surges your insulin and may make you hungrier; after a few beers, your willpower to eat healthily might disappear.
- Sports/Energy Drinks (Gatorade and Red Bull) – lots of sugar and questionable chemicals; you must know this stuff is not good for you, right?
People regularly mistake thirst for hunger. Many think they need to eat when in fact a tall glass of water is what their body craves. Most food contains water, however, if you don’t have enough fluids your brain may drive you to eat more. Drinking a glass of water prior to a snack or meal can do wonders for curbing one’s appetite. This has been shown to benefit weight loss and prevent overeating. A Virginia Tech study in 2010 found that drinking 2 cups of water before meals is a very effective weight loss strategy. The experimental group in this study lost 30% more weight, after 12 weeks than the control group.
A common mistake made by many is to limit one’s fluid intake in order to lose weight and reduce water retention. By depriving your body of liquids the opposite effect will take place. Water intake stimulates your kidneys which in turn decreases your water retention and in the process burns calories. Research has also shown drinking cold H20 modestly increases your metabolism. Furthermore let’s not forget water will lower your appetite, fill your stomach, improve your skin, better your overall health and may even improve your mood. Are you thirsty yet?
1- Journal of Nutrition (2006), “Adults with Healthier Dietary Patterns Have Healthier Beverage Patterns”, 136 (11):2901-7.
2- M. Boschmann, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (2003), “Water Induced Thermogenesis”; Vol. 88: pp. 6015-6019.
3-Davy, Brenda; Dennis, Elizabeth. , “Water Consumption Increases Weight Loss During a Hypocaloric Diet Intervention in Middle-aged and Older Adults”, Obesity 18 (2): 300–307, doi:10.1038/oby.2009.235