Drinking enough water is one of the most critical components of health. You can only live three days without water, but up to 3 weeks without food. Water makes up 60% of your body weight. The recommended intake for women is 2.8 litres or 8 cups per day.
If you are breastfeeding you need to drink 9 cups per day to replace the fluid lost in breast milk.
Are you drinking that much water daily?
Water is also extremely important for weight loss. It fills your stomach before meals and also helps flush out fat as you begin to lose it. Dehydration can actually stall weight loss, so be sure you are getting in those 8 or 9 cups daily.
What about other types of drinks?
Although juices, soft drinks, tea, or coffee do also provide fluids, they also may come loaded with a significant amount of calories and often sugar. Energy from beverages can add up very quickly if you don’t watch out. When we are trying to lose weight, sometimes we get overly focused on what we are eating and forget about the sneaky calories from what we are drinking. Drinks do not increase satiety, or the feeling of fullness, in the same way food does. So you end up consuming the calories from the drink and still eating food to feel satisfied. When you are trying to lose weight, every calorie counts.
Sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, fruit juices, sweetened teas, or blended coffee drinks don’t just have a heap of calories, they also come with a significant amount of sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Adding just one of these beverages to your day adds an extra 54,750 calories a year or the number of calories needed to gain about 7kg in a year.
High fructose corn syrup is even more problematic for weight gain and overall health. It has been connected to increased fat gain in animal studies and may lead to insulin resistance, the primary symptom of type 2 diabetes.
How about Fruit Juice?
Fruit juice may seem healthier since it is made from fruit, but can be higher in calories and sugar than soft drinks. Juice is not as healthy as fruit because the fibre is completely discarded when making juice. Fibre is one of the secrets to staying full after eating, so without it, juice won’t really satisfy your hunger. It takes multiple pieces of fruit to make a single glass of juice and you would never eat that many in one sitting. If you want to lose weight it is probably best to avoid sweet beverages all together, it will be too hard to stick with a calorie controlled plan if you are wasting calories on liquid. Don’t you want to eat more actual food anyway?
Is Coffee OK?
If you want something with a little bit of caffeine (sometimes as mums we need an extra boost in the morning!), plain black tea or coffee is an acceptable choice as they are both high in antioxidants. But, the recommended amount of caffeine per day is around 300 mg, the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee. Levels above 700 mg daily have been shown to increase blood pressure and the risk of osteoporosis. Caffeine is also quite dehydrating and remember how dehydration can stall weight loss? Lastly, although plain coffee and tea do not contain any calories, anything you may add such as, cream, sugar, or flavourings can increase the calories quite quickly!
If you are Pregnant or trying to get Pregnant
You should think about limiting your caffeine intake. Caffeine does cross the placenta and the potential risks to the baby are unknown. Intakes greater than 3 cups of coffee a day while pregnant has been implicated in miscarriages, so keep your consumption moderate.
If you are Breastfeeding
Concentrate your effort on eliminating or severely restricting your caffeine consumption in the early months of your baby’s life. You may find it easier to know that you can slowly increase your consumptions as they grow. In really young babies their liver takes up to 5 days to process caffeine. This gets better with time as their body starts to improve its metabolism of caffeine. After about 6 months, generally the clearance is quite good. The caffeine level in the breast milk peaks at about 2 hours after consumption. As with an alcoholic drink, if you are going to drink a caffeinated drink you will limit the impact on your baby if you drink it straight after a feed. This ensures that the peak level in the milk is passed by the time the next feed comes around (unless they are demand feeding, then it is obviously a different story).
At the end of the day, the best thing to drink is water. Sometimes it can get a little boring though. You can try adding a squeeze of lemon for some flavour. Or consider making a fruit infused water for added flavour. Just slice up your favourite fruit, strawberries, citrus, or cucumbers work great, add to a pitcher of water and let it sit for 4-6 hours. The water will acquire a subtle fruit flavour and won’t be quite so boring.
Or there are a large variety of calorie-free flavoured sparkling waters on the market now that you can try which also work for hydration and are a little less boring! Keep a bottle of water with you during your day and set a daily goal to drink at least 8 or 9 cups daily.
Staying hydrated is the key to a healthy body and to reaching your weight loss goals.
Julie Masci, BHlthSc, APD, AN Julie Masci is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist. She is a Mum to two boys - a blueberry loving toddler and a bouncing newborn. Julie has appeared on Brisbane’s televisions as an expert dietitian on Channel 9 News, Channel 7 News, Today Tonight and Brisbane Extra, as a diet and nutrition expert. She has extensive experience as a public speaker on a variety of nutrition topics, such as obesity, diabetes, and digestive health. In her career, she has been a monthly contributor to Prevention Magazine as their Grocery Guru and Australian Weight Watchers magazine. Julie is one of In Shape Mummy’s dietitians and the founder and director of New Life Nutrition.
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