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The Lean Benefits of Water

(An excerpt from my book Go Green Get Lean)

I’m sure the lean benefits of water are rather obvious, but just to review; drinking water helps keep your skin looking great, your GI tract healthy and regular, your energy levels and focus maximized, helps to keep munchies at bay, keeps your workouts going strong, flushes toxins from your system in addition to a host of other benefits. It’s made by nature and it’s a renewable resource. Plus, it’s zero calorie so there’s no weight gain, and it complements your brain’s natural chemistry, since liquid calories don’t register with your brain.

So how much water do you really need? The answer may surprise you. While taking care to drink regularly throughout the day is a sound strategy, if you include water, coffee or tea with meals and snacks, plus anytime you feel thirst coming on, chances are your hydration status is healthy. Contrary to popular belief you don’t need to force down 8-10 glasses of water in addition to all your other food and drink choices. In fact, some researchers have recently taken a closer look at the myths around water intake and found that very little was based in actual science; the latest guidelines from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), state that "the vast majority of healthy people adequately meet their daily hydration needs by letting thirst be their guide1". Another easy way is to do a quick urine check; it should be pretty clear and have no odor as opposed to being darker with a strong smell. A few exceptions to this rule: Children, elderly, and the ill should not just let thirst be their guide because they may not have fully functioning thirst responses. And those at high altitudes, in very hot temperatures, or exercising hard for a long time may need more water than thirst dictates.

If you’re a regular soda or beer drinker, switching to water can be one of the easiest ways to lose weight fast. Several years ago, I was counseling firefighters and police officers throughout the state of Massachusetts. In the first days of our meetings I brought in my "sugar tubes" showing how much sugar (about 10 teaspoons) is in a 12 ounce can of soda. Several of these guys were drinking 2-3 cans of soda a day! That visual alone was enough to get a couple of the guys stop cold turkey, and the results were fast and furious. They lost about 20 lbs in 6 months! I’ve seen similar results for nightly beer drinkers, too. Check out the table below for some other examples of the poundage you can lose by cutting back on your brews.

Drinking responsibly gets you on the fast track to lean

 CUT OUT THIS  FOR THIS MANY CALORIES  AND LOSE THIS IN A YEAR
 12 oz. beer a night  150 calories  15 pounds
 3 (5 oz. each) glasses of wine a week  300 calories  4.5 pounds
 12 oz. soda each day  150 calories  15 pounds
 2 Starbucks venti lattes (using 2% milk) a week  480 calories  7 pounds
 12 oz. Gatorade (Performance Series) after workouts 4 nights/week  1240 calories  18.5 pounds


1Institute of Medicine,"Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate," National Academies Press, February 11, 2004.

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