“Drink 8 glasses of water every day,” we hear on television, radio—and even from our friends. But not everyone takes the advice literally. Some Americans sip a glass of diet soda or eat a slice of melon, hoping to get adequate hydration through other means. Others never drink water unless they feel thirsty.
Unfortunately, most of us ignore water at our health’s peril. We also avoid it to our weight’s peril. Water is critical to any weight loss campaign, particularly for bariatric surgeries.
So, just how much water is enough?
Expert opinions differ; however, one truth remains. The best barometer for adequate hydration is urine color. When your doctor advises you to “pee pale,” that’s sound advice. If it’s hard to distinguish urine color from the water in the toilet bowl, you’re hydrated. If urine is dark, you’re dehydrated.
So, to further learn how water impacts your weight loss plan, let’s first discuss a few of water’s roles:
Vital Organ Protector
Because the human body contains mostly water (60 percent overall), it also stands to reason that the body must replenish water lost through daily activity. Vital organs also require adequate water to function properly. Water protects:
- The kidneys (which in turn protect the liver and pancreas)
- The brain and nervous system
- The heart and circulatory system
- The lungs and respiratory system
- The stomach and digestive system
By drinking adequate water throughout the day, you also protect and nourish your skin—the largest organ of all.
Fat Metabolism Assistant
If a person doesn’t drink enough water, his or her kidneys won’t work in an optimal way. Instead, the liver has to work overtime. Since the liver’s primary job is fat metabolism, it can’t do that job properly.
Fortunately, when the body receives plenty of water, the water helps the kidneys work properly, which also means the liver can devote its full attention to metabolizing fat. And water itself makes the body burn fat more easily.
Skin and Muscle Toner
Water not only prevents dehydration generally; it also encourages muscle cell growth. Additionally, water stimulates skin cell regeneration. This regeneration is particularly important for post-bariatric surgical patients, who often deal with sagging skin during rapid weight loss.
Patients who follow their doctors’ recommendations often see their muscle tone and skin resiliency rebound more successfully than patients who slack off on water intake.
Natural Appetite Suppressant
Although bariatric surgeries successfully lower patients’ appetites, all patients still require adequate hydration for the reasons mentioned above. However, once patients recover from surgery and adjust to their new lifestyle, water and other approved liquids are still critical to weight loss.
If the body has adequate fluid, it can prevent fluid retention and use fat as fuel. Hunger and cravings reduce their stronghold on the body and brain. Patients also experience natural thirst again.
After your weight loss surgery, remember: because you’ll change your eating habits, you’ll need to adjust your drinking habits as well.
Most often, doctors recommend multiple small meals and water in between meals. If you forget this pattern and drink water alongside a meal, your stomach may “dump” the food and liquid suddenly into the colon. If this happens, you will feel hungry again soon after your meal. Remind yourself to drink water only after you’ve digested a meal.
Most doctors also suggest 64 ounces of water every day, or up to eight glasses in between meals. To vary your liquids, include clear broth, herb teas, and flavored waters from time to time. But clear water is still the best choice overall.
Like most people, bariatric surgery patients may benefit from technological motivators. Whether you need an app to remind you about meal times or water intake, you’ll find multiple options. Take a look at these favorite weight loss apps:
- Baritastic – This app is a favorite among weight loss surgical patients. You can set goals for every stage of weight loss. If you want to track protein or just log your meals, Baritastic makes those tasks a snap. Enter a Fitbit challenge or track your water intake.
- Mayo Clinic – If you like the idea of two apps, one pre-surgical and the other post-surgical, the Mayo Clinic provides both for bariatric patients. Set an alert to remind you to drink water or take vitamins. Track exercise or meals, and reward yourself when you meet goals.
- Waterlogged – If you want a simple app that focuses on how much water you’ve drunk today, Waterlogged is a great option. You can also use it in conjunction with FitBit.
Do your research before you download any app. Not all apps work equally well for bariatric patients. If you’re unsure about the best app for your situation, ask other bariatric patients what works best for them. Talk to your doctor for further suggestions.
Weight loss surgery can forever change your life and outlook. You have to think about things you never thought of before. Be patient with yourself as you adjust.
And, through it all, remember to treat your body well by drinking plenty of water along your journey. Here’s to your health!