Water is often the most overlooked part of the Paleo Diet. It’s actually the most overlooked part of any diet. The prescription to DRINK MORE WATER can be found in pretty much every diet out there.
Water and oxygen are vital to our health. Our life on earth revolves around these simple elements. I’m as guilty as the next person for letting these things become a small side note of my health.
By focusing on drinking more water and taking the time to breathe deeply, I’ve uncovered some really amazing health benefits. My energy and mood feel amazing, and I feel like my body and mind are balanced and clear.
Too many people think about walking the desert for days without water when they think dehydration. They don’t realize that many of us go through our whole day dehydrated and lacking our full energy potential.
Water has always been very un-sexy in my mind. At my sports games I had Gatorade, my dinners were accompanied by milk, and weekends were nothing but beer, liquor, and soda (just soda pre-18 yrs. old).
The Paleo Diet has changed the way I eat, but as importantly, it has changed the way I drink. I’ve allowed water to become the magical health tool it is.
How Water is Magical!
1. It Fuels Your Energy.
Start everyday with a glass of water. Immediately upon waking up, drink some water to get your system going. Many people rely on energy drinks or coffee in the morning. They don’t realize that a big part of what their body is craving is simply the water from that drink of choice.
You ever see these energy pills that have you take two full glasses of water with their pills? Hmmm… I wonder what’s really working to give you that energy. It’s not the gimmicky pills, its H2O, the lifeblood of our bodies.
I drink a glass of water every morning and follow it with a protein shake 15 minutes later. I’ve never downed a cup of coffee and never will. I could claim that protein shakes are full of energy, but I know it’s the two glasses of water (1 from the protein shake) that gets my energy going every morning.
2. It Kills Your Cravings.
Most food cravings are actually water cravings is disguise. We think we are hungry but our bodies are truly just thirsty. That’s it.
We’ve become a culture of snacking with a billion different snack choices out there for us. Food marketers have convinced us that we need Kit Kat Breaks and our employers aren’t helping by conveniently placing vending machines full of chips, cookies, and candy everywhere.
Our bodies often just need a glass of water to do the trick. It is easy to confuse the need for water for a need for snacks, especially when we have made the snack a habit of ours, a poor habit as its most likely a soda or candy that “rewards” you after a hard half-day’s work.
I personally feel like I take down this “snack” craving every night. At some point after dinner I want to eat again. It’s a bad habit I developed in college where I would eat a protein shake and PB&J sandwich every night after dinner.
My body has changed in the past 8 years since and no longer allows me to eat so much, so late at night. I now just have a glass of water, often with a squirt of lemon juice, and any snack cravings completely escape me. I’ve changed a poor habit, into a healthy one.
3. It Hydrates, Unlike Other Drinks.
Has your throat ever felt like the Sahara desert upon waking from a long night of drinking? I know the feeling all too well and will chug bottle after bottle of water in order to recover. This also helps fight hangovers (more below).
The reason why our bodies can feel like crap after drinking beer or soda or any other sugar laden drinks, is because these drinks actually work to dehydrate you.
You heard that right, a drink made of liquids can actually work towards dehydrating your body.
Try this little experiment. Down a Sprite or a Michelob Ultra after you go for a run. I guarantee you will feel thirstier after you finish these drinks. And if you get a stomach ache, don’t blame me, blame Lebron James and Lance Armstrong
4. It Cleans Your System.
It amazes me how when people catch a sickness or bug, they completely forget the magical powers of water. They make the poor decision of turning to bread or continuing to eat dairy with expectations of recovering.
They then wonder why their illness has kept them out of work for over a week. Must have been a really bad version of that flu bug they rationalize.
Next time you are sick and have to stay home from work, make drinking water your job. Drinking water will speed up recovery time and help flush your system of the toxins that are plaguing you.
5. It Helps You Avoid Injury.
This is my personal favorite. I have lived with so many muscle tweaks and pulls over the past decade, I feel like my body was falling apart before I could even reach my “prime”.
Now that I’ve gone Paleo, I rarely have any muscle strains, and if I do, they always come after a weekend of too many cheat meals.
A dehydrated muscle is more prone to injury and inflammation. Our bodies are made up of mostly muscles and our muscles are made up of mostly water. They work best when they are “well-oiled”.
Drink as much water as your workout allows. You can drink a lot more water in a low heart rate, heavy lifting session as opposed to an interval jogging/sprinting. I promise you can lift more if you are drinking more water, it goes beyond a placebo effect.
6. It Assists Food Breakdown Instead of Hindering It.
“A meal out to eat is not as special without a beer or glass of wine with it.” My mom said this the other day to me. I didn’t exactly agree with the statement but I don’t necessarily disagree with it.
The coach in me wants to tell you to drink water with every single meal, regardless of where you eat it. There is no healthier drink choice during a meal than a glass of water. Period.
But the human, party-enthusiast in me wants you to enjoy your nights out. Especially since they are quite seldom, and you mostly enjoy home-cooked Paleo meals.
Just remember that calories are calories, gluten is gluten, and sugar is sugar. Whether you drink it or eat it, it’s all the same when its mush in your belly. Be smart and don’t harm your body by overloading it with too much crap.
I prefer to eat my calories rather than drink them. I almost always use to order two beers with dinner. Now I’ve grown a love for food that I don’t want to ruin by filling up on liquid calories.
7. It Can Help You Take Down Stomachaches and Headaches.
We often confuse causation and correlation. Dehydration is not the cause of all headaches or stomachaches. They often happen together, but we fail to even realize the strong relationship between them.
I use to get incredible stomach pains after running (running 3-4 miles mid-summer in south Florida can literally drain water from your body.) It wasn’t until I came across a fitness blog that I realized that my body was severely dehydrated. Yes, I needed the internet to tell me that.
After a summer run, I would drink water until I felt too full to fit anymore. And then I drank some more. This worked and cured my stomach pain problem.
I use this same technique when I experience a hangover. There really is no worse feeling in the world than a wicked hangover. As any experienced, 7-year senior will tell you, you can try caffeine or another beer, but nothing works better than chugging a ton of water. This is the best hangover cure I know, and I know hangover cures.
8. It Gives You OOH-AAH Skin!
Want the skin you see on celebrities you see on magazine covers (minus the massive airbrushing)? It starts with keeping your skin properly hydrated.
There are many commercial products out there claiming to nourish skin and “wash away” wrinkles, but no skin product is more effective than water.
Water keeps skin hydrated from the inside out. It also helps you prevent acne and wrinkles. And it costs a whole lot less than those fancy butters and creams.
What’s ENOUGH Water?
The right amount of water you should be drinking in a day ultimately depends on how active you are. The key to getting enough water is drinking it when you are NOT thirsty. Don’t wait until hunger or thirst strikes. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and keep it flowing throughout your body all day long. You will notice a significant increase in energy and you will feel better with no 2pm crash 5hour energy is making millions off of.
How to make water SEXY?
I love using lemon slices or a squirt of lemon juice in my water to help spice it up. Just as eating candy can remind us of childhood and good times, lemon flavored water reminds me of going out to a restaurant and having a nice dinner. Weird I know, but it works. A pitcher full of lemon slices and ice water reminds me of fun memories of spending hot summers in New Jersey. Having a pitcher in the fridge takes me back to summer even in the coldest days of winter.
I made it a goal of mine to drink more water throughout the SUPERHUMAN30. I experienced some pretty clear results from doing so. I had significantly less food cravings, I had ridiculous energy levels, and for one time in my life…I worked out for a month straight WITHOUT injury! Maybe I’m not an old man after all!