Tired? Bags under your eyes? Are your hands shaking a little? Or maybe it seems like you can’t recover after your training and you’re constantly sleepy?
There’s a cure that can not only increase your energy levels but also reduce unhealthy food cravings. It’s indispensable to any fat loss programme and it’s a staple of any healthy lifestyle. It’s also free.
Just walk into your kitchen, open the tap and run a tall glass of this miraculous substance.
(And yes, tap water is absolutely safe to drink – you can find a full list of countries that guarantee clean tap water here.)
Unless you fuel your body, not only with nutrients, but also with a sufficient amount of water, it simply won’t serve you well.
By now I’ve probably made you calculate how many cups of tea or coffee you have per day. Perhaps you’re adding a bowl of soup, or maybe even a few servings of fruit and veg that contain quite a lot of water. Then there’s the odd glass of wine. Somehow it all adds up to 2 liters (around 4 pints), so you’re covered, right?
Water from foods is a good thing, but it’s absorbed by the gut very differently to actual liquids, so one can’t replace another. There are more reasons to ditch sugary soda than I have space for here and coffee and even tea are good for you only in moderate amounts.
The bottom line is, if you want to feel good, you should consume around 2 litres of pure water per day. During hot weather, or after exercise, your body will need even more. Even mild dehydration can cause both your physical and intellectual performance to drop significantly!
Many people admit they simply forget to drink. A good action plan is setting yourself a reminder on the phone, or even just sticking a post-in note above your desk. You can also simply print out this plan:
A glass of water:
1. first thing in the morning
2. mid morning
3. with lunch
4. before your workout
5. during or after your workout
7. with dinner
8. evening to stay hydrated through the night
Once you start drinking more, you won’t have to try so hard to remember about it. Your body will do it for you as it learns to recognise the symptoms of thirst. Reaching for a glass of water will become natural and you’ll feel better than ever.
If you’re worried about running to the bathroom every five minutes, ditch tea and coffee which make you pee more.
But keep in mind the cleansing effects of drinking water and getting it out of the system. It’s good for you, so be an adult and just put up with it. At least it will help you get up from your desk more often which – incidentally – is also a healthy habit.
In case all that hasn’t already got you glugging a glass of water, here are some extra tips to make hydration your second nature:
- Start your day with a glass of warm water. If you really don’t want to drink it plain (which is what I recommend) add some lemon juice or slices of fruit (leave to soak overnight). A glass of water to kickstart the day is a great habit which helps not only with hydration but also with improving your digestive system.
- Buy a nice reusable water bottle and carry it around everywhere. It’s good for your body, the environment and your budget. When the bottle is empty at the end of the day, you’ll know exactly how much you drank.
- At home, prepare fragrant lemonade in a big jug. Use fresh citrus juice, sliced fruit, cucumber or even mint. You can add variety by choosing sparking water or making it a hot infusion in winter. As long as it smells and looks good, you’ll find yourself sipping it all the time!
- Become a mineral water connoisseur. Mineral waters can have very distinct flavours, from very mild to very noticeable, and they are saturated with minerals in various proportions. For example, choosing magnesium rich water could help you lower your blood pressure and aid recovery after training. Keep your mineral water refrigerated and drink just a glass or two per day to avoid consuming too much sodium.
- If you’re a big tea or coffee drinker, try decaffeinated alternatives. You don’t have to drink “cheat” tea all day long, but substituting even one or two cups with a decaffeinated version of your favourite drink will help your body retain water.
Honestly though, the main thing you need to do is just fill your glass from the tap and slurp it back. Personally I don’t bother with infusions or special bottled waters, for me the massive benefits of simply giving my body water the way it likes it – fresh and pure – far outweigh the tiny amount of effort it takes to drink up.
It’s a habit, you’ll build it by doing it. Start today.