Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Water: your new hobby

One of the things that I’m always surprised about on re-starting a low-carb eating regimen (we do not say four-letter words like “diet”) is how much water leeches out of your system during the first few days.  Like a porous rock swollen with ice in the winter, it takes nothing more than a stretch of ketosis (“spring thaw”) to see how much water a human body retains in order to process all those carbs you were storing for primordial winter fuel.

It is important to drink lots of water when you start a low-carb regimen.  You need to get as much retained water out of your body, and the only sensible way to do so is to drink lots.  This naturally results in many, many, many trips to the bathroom.  Yes, you will be getting up in the middle of the night for the first few days as your body rids itself of retained water.  Yes, you will want to make a note of where the bathrooms are if you are in unfamiliar territory for an offsite meeting or sports event.

And lo, he said that pretzels wouldst make us thirsty.

The other surprising development is how thirsty you become.  This is not the same thirst induced by eating a package of salty pepperoni or pretzels – that desperate, cottonmouth feeling.  This is a deep thirst that you know only water can satisfy: not coffee, not a diet soda, not even the juice you may be missing.  It’s for water, and water only.

I love the irony of drinking water to relieve your body of edema, of drinking water to get rid of the nasty bloating feeling in your stomach, and drinking water to replace the noxious toxins which your body is slowly but surely ridding itself.

So, how much water to drink?  How do you balance drinking enough water with drinking too much water?  Drinking too much water can leech good things out of your system, like electrolytes.  This syndrome is known as overhydration, and can potentially result in serious health consequences.  You can read about it on Wikipedia here.  You want to avoid overhydration, the least of which causes fatigue (not enough salt in your body) and may require medical intervention.

Yikes!  Okay, don’t be scarred.  Unless you really are obsessive and drink two gallons of water per day, it is unlikely you will need medical intervention.

First, how much to drink:  I use the following formula:
1.     Drink 64 ounces
2.     For every 25 pounds I am overweight, drink an additional 8 ounces
3.     For every hour of physically demanding activity (gym, mowing lawn), drink an additional 8 ounces

Second, monitor your drinking.  I purchased a BPA-free water bottle that holds 24 liquid ounces.  My water bottle is filled (and emptied) everyday in accordance with the above formula. 

And it really is that easy.  So, embrace your appropriate water consumption, and you will be on your way to embracing a smaller, healthier, more hydrated you!


1 comment:

Donna said...

Hydration is key and I am so bad about not following up. I especially like the second point in your water intake formula about increasing water for extra weight.