Water performs every day miracles in our bodies. From regulating body temperature to preventing infections, proper hydration is necessary for proper health, says Harvard Health. And according to recent research published in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics, it can also help you lose weight.
A 2016 study found that drinking water before meals and substituting water for sweetened beverages can reduce calorie intake. In fact, increasing plain water consumption by one to three cups a day could decrease calorie intake by 68 to 205 calories per day.
Hydration seems simple: Drink water, get hydrated. But thanks to busy schedules, an abundance of sugary (addictive) beverages and the “boringness” of plain water, we typically don’t drink enough. On the South Beach Diet, we recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces of fluid each day. However, please note that this is just a recommendation and you may need more or less fluid based on your activity level or other factors. Speak to your doctor to ensure you are hydrating properly for your specific needs.
When you’re trying to lose weight, staying hydrated is essential for the best results. It’s also important to replace any electrolytes that you may lose along the way. These include minerals like sodium, magnesium and potassium. There are many ways to increase your hydration and electrolyte levels. Some obvious solutions include using a stay-cold water bottle, drinking before you get thirsty or using citrus juices to make flavored water. However, there are some other simple tips that you may not have considered.
Check out this handy infographic to learn our five simple tips to boost your hydration:
Now read on for more details about applying these tips to your healthy lifestyle!
1. Eat Your Water
In addition to all the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, fresh vegetables also contain high amounts of water. According to Healthline, cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower and cabbage are all over 90% water. That means when you’re eating your veggies, you’re also boosting your hydration.
Include an abundance of dark, leafy green vegetables in your meal plan such as kale, collard greens and spinach. These veggies are great sources of magnesium, one of the essential electrolytes needed for efficient hydration. Remember, on the South Beach Diet, you should include at least 3 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day. Dark, leafy greens are very low in net carbs so the more the better!
2. Pass the Salt
Wait, what? Believe it or not, salt (also known as sodium) is an electrolyte that is essential to proper hydration and overall human health, says Harvard Health. It is found in high amounts in bodily fluids like blood, sweat, tears and urine. When salt is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, it is always taking water with it. Harvard Health explains that if there is a sodium deficiency, these essential bodily fluids would lose their water, leading to dehydration, low blood pressure and even death.
Because water follows salt, an increase in water intake can lead to salt losses in the urine. Be liberal with your salt shaker and incorporate some all-natural salts like Celtic or Himalayan sea salt into your diet to replace lost electrolytes. Just be careful not to go overboard and avoid getting sodium from unhealthy, processed foods. If you have a sodium restriction, speak to your doctor before making any dietary changes.
3. Avoid Sugary Sports Drinks
While it’s true that sports drinks contain electrolytes like sodium and potassium, many also contain a hefty amount of calories, carbohydrates and sugar. According to Harvard Health, some contain around 150 calories or the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar. You don’t necessarily need a sports drink to stay hydrated and replace electrolytes. Every kind of water—except for distilled water—contains some level of electrolytes, says Healthline.
If you do want to up the ante, low-calorie hydration drinks, supplements and electrolyte-infused waters are acceptable. These can be consumed as a part of your daily fluid intake. However, just make sure to only select varieties that are sugar-free and limit the use of artificial sweeteners. You can also make your own electrolyte water by adding a dash of salt, citrus juice and unsweetened coconut water.
4. Embrace the Fat
If you’re new to the South Beach Diet, here’s something you need to know: Healthy Fats are a cornerstone of this program. We advocate that dieters incorporate them into their everyday side dishes, snacks, entrees and DIY meals. Why? According to Harvard Health, fat provides energy, builds important cell membranes and helps your body absorb certain nutrients. In short, our bodies need Healthy Fats to stay healthy.
But what does fat have to do with hydration? It all comes back to electrolytes. Avocados, for instance, are loaded with the electrolyte potassium. Full-fat dairy products also contain high amounts of the electrolyte calcium. So, while we advocate eating these kinds of foods for their heart-healthy benefits, a happy side effect is hydration.
5. Freeze It
Have 10 minutes to spare? Try stocking your freezer with some homemade popsicles! Simply puree fruits, herbs and vegetables with water and freeze in a popsicle mold or in ice cube trays. If you’re on the South Beach Diet, we recommend sticking with lower sugar fruits such as berries or citrus to keep your carbohydrate intake low. Fresh mint leaves also add a refreshing flavor that will keep you coming back for more. Liquid stevia can provide a hint of guilt-free sweetness. If you prefer creamy frozen treats, grab your blender and mix berries with water and some Greek yogurt.