We are all aware of the importance of water to our overall health. If we don’t drink enough, we’re at risk of dehydration, causing a multitude of symptoms including being unable to regulate the internal temperature compared to the outside temperature, our joints won’t function properly, our brains become swollen, and our blood pressure varying significantly into dangerous zones. These symptoms make sense when we recognize our bodies are made up of roughly 75 percent water.
On the contrary, when we drink adequate amounts of water, we are able to function properly, exercise successfully, have better digestion, and our appearance stays intact (i.e. smoother skin, uplifted eyes). While water is essential, our bodies need other fundamental nutrients to operate. The water diet, a diet that utilizes water as the only source of nourishment, is just another term for fasting and should not be used as a means of achieving weight loss.
While there are benefits to occasional fasting, using the water diet day-in and day-out is not a resourceful way of adopting a healthier lifestyle. Here’s why:
It is Outrageous
Diet culture is tough. What’s even tougher is when there is a “diet” that revolves around drinking only water. That is not a diet; that is starving yourself. Again, there can be benefits of occasional fasting including improving insulin sensitivity, speeding up your metabolism, and improving eating patterns.
However, when your body isn’t receiving essential nutrients through food, vitamins, and minerals, your body will eventually start shutting down. Remember, the best diet is the one that is sustainable. Fill your body with nutrient-dense foods (packed with vitamins and minerals with relatively few calories), eat plenty of fiber (on average, 25 grams per day), select healthy fats (i.e. nuts, avocados), and limit highly processed foods (tip: shop on the outside of the grocery store where fresh foods are readily available).
It does not Contribute to a Long-Lasting Change
As mentioned previously, the best diet is the one that is sustainable. If you commit to the water diet, a few things will begin to happen. You will likely lose weight, but most of it will just be water weight as opposed to fat. To successfully lose weight, people go into calorie reductions of 500-800 calories, putting them in a calorie deficient.
Because you are not fueling your body with adequate amounts of food, you will begin to lose muscle. Once you finish the water diet, your metabolic rate will have dropped significantly meaning you will have to eat less to maintain that weight loss, when in reality, you want to train your body to eat more and burn those calories off. All good things come with time.
There are Plenty of Healthy “Diet” Options
If you are set on starting a diet, there are options for you that will contribute to that long-lasting change. Before starting any diet, you should do extensive research and consult a medical practitioner to first seek approval and then advise. For an example of healthful diets, read more about the Paleo diet, becoming vegan or vegetarian (there are more ways of living as opposed to diets), the Elimination Diet, the Macronutrient diet, among many others. There are so many options. For example, the Paleo diet adopts how our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate before agriculture was fully developed. It focuses on whole foods, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Vegans eliminate meat, eggs, dairy, and all animal-derived products such as honey, gelatin, etc. The Macronutrient diet sets people up for success by determining a necessary amount of calories [for your goals] and breaks these calories into carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
While we’ve learned the importance of water on the body, we’ve also discussed the alarming dangers of subjecting it as our only source of nourishment. Before starting any diet, it is critical to consult a medical practitioner in order to gain an understanding of the benefits and risks of any diet.
In addition to any diet, water consumption depends on the individual, their activity levels, medication, as well as many other factors. On average, you should aim for at least half a liter of water per day. Start your day with water and end your day with water, as well as consuming a healthful diet. You’ll be well on your way!