Water is the elixir of life. So it’s no surprise that liquid forms the basis of a healthy diet. But is there an added benefit if you double the recommended amount you drink? Try it out by Beke Enderstein, author of FITBOOK.
In order to know the effects of drinking 4 to 5 liters of water a day on your health, my motto for my one week self-experiment is: Water Walk! In FITBOOK I describe my impressions – and give advice to imitators!
How much water should I drink in a day?
There is a misunderstanding about the right amount to drink. While some think they need at least three liters of fluid, others think two liters is enough. But what does dietitian recommend?
According to the German Dietetic Association (DGE), adults should drink at least 1.5 liters of fluid per day. Although this amount seems rather small, this recommendation on the amount of drinking can be explained as follows: as part of a healthy diet, which is quantitatively based mainly on vegetables, salads and fruits rich in water, the body is already supplied with an average of approximately of 900 ml of water.
Water rich foods
Vegetables like for example:
When it comes to lettuce, lettuce and lamb are far ahead. Fruits such as berries (especially strawberries), grapefruit and watermelon are also suitable for vitamin-rich water dispensers – just like fresh herbs. The fact that these foods are rich in cell-protecting antioxidants (by-plants), micronutrients, and fiber makes vegetables and joint foods look-friendly and high in nutrients. But there are also appropriate amounts of water in other foods such as dairy products or fish.
The daily fluid intake is supplemented by about 350 milliliters of oxidative water, which is produced during the metabolism of food at the cellular level.
A quick look at fluid intake
- Food (especially vegetables, salad, and fruit)
- oxidation water
Increased water requirements
Due to rising temperatures, the demand for water increases in summer. The body needs more fluids to compensate for the water loss through sweating. The same applies to strenuous exercise, which can lead to a loss of water even one liter.
In addition, the need for fluids increases with fever, diarrhea and vomiting. Last but not least, “water predators” such as dry and cold air, higher salt intake, increased energy expenditure and a diet rich in protein ensure increased water requirements.
Also interesting: How much should you drink when exercising?
Infusion Water & Co
If tap water or mineral water is too boring for you in the long run, you can boost your fluid reserves with unsweetened herbal tea or infused water (water naturally flavored with herbs, fruits, or vegetables). Generously diluted apple sprinkles – at least 2 parts water to 1 part naturally cloudy juice – are also recommended as a thirst quencher.
Also interesting: tap water or mineral water – which is healthier?
Speaking of thirst: If you are already thirsty, you are already dehydrated. In order to prevent headaches, dizziness, fatigue and lack of concentration from occurring in the first place, preventive fluid intake is essential. Also interesting in this context: since thirst can be confused with appetite, you should drink a large glass of water when you first feel hungry.
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What is the point of trying to drink 4 to 5 liters of water per day? I hope that drinking plenty of water will improve my health on various levels. I am particularly interested in the energizing effect that is often described, as I often feel tired and lack energy despite following a healthy diet.
In addition, I would like to see if the drying effect begins: as soon as the body receives a signal that there is enough water for vital processes, tissue water is no longer retained – at least that is the theory. Last but not least, I’m curious if my natural feeling of fullness would improve thanks to the stretching of my stomach and if I might lose some weight as a result.
Also interesting: If you want to lose weight, you should drink plenty of water
To be able to assess at the end of my experiment whether it makes sense for me to pay more attention to drinking a generous amount, I will keep the following aspects in mind.
Aim to drink more:
- Increase efficiency
- less fatigue
- drain effect
- The effect of “detoxing”
- Skin plumping effect
- Easy to lose weight
My plan to drink for a week
I made it my goal to drink 3 to 4 liters of mineral water or homemade soda every day. The rest is herbal tea, ginger infusion and water infusion (lime and mint water). Additionally, have 3 to 4 cups of green or black tea throughout the day.
Drinking plan (4 to 5 liters):
- Great green tea in the morning (= 300ml liquid).
- A cup of sage tea in the morning (= 200 ml liquid).
- 1.5 liters of mineral water until noon
- Green tea at noon (= 200 ml)
- 1 liter of mineral water until the afternoon
- Afternoon black tea and 1 infused water (= 400 ml)
- 1 liter of mineral water until early evening *
*Tip: To avoid having to go to the toilet often at night, I will try to drink as much as possible by the afternoon.
Still water or sparkling water? Although it is often advised to prefer stagnant water, I drink only sparkling mineral water: the more gases, the better! I find the sparkling water more refreshing, I can’t get used to the stagnant water and don’t see any flaws for me either.
coffee: Green or black tea can also be replaced with coffee. Personally, I don’t like coffee very much and only drink it when I need a strong dose of caffeine. Although this popular hot beverage is often criticized as stealing water, this effect can be controlled through moderate consumption of up to four cups.
Also interesting: coffee alternatives that wake you up too
Soda and wine: Since I sometimes can’t resist an ice-cold Coca-Cola Zero, I’ll occasionally replace mineral water with a soft drink – according to the motto: Small sins are part of it! The same applies to a glass or other glass of red wine in the evening, which I will not count as part of the amount of liquid.
Within two or three days, I noticed that an extra portion of the liquid was good for me at different levels. Although I found “the need to go to the toilet” more frequently annoying, especially at first, the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. In order not to jeopardize my sleep due to a full bladder, my plan to fill most of my water reserves for the first half of the day was worth its weight in gold.
Halfway through, I reduced my drinking from 5 liters to 4 liters because my gut feeling and my physical feeling indicated to me that my well-being would not benefit from the extra liter of water.
The benefits of drinking a lot are felt:
- Goodbye tissue water: Since I often have annoying water retention on my ankles – possibly due to my autoimmune disease – Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – this point was especially important to me. What seems at first contradictory is reasonable. Anyone who drinks a lot gives their body a signal that excess water from the tissues can be excreted. Even if the topic is very complex, a large enough fluid intake in addition to a low-salt diet is the ultimate, dry solution to dehydration. By the end of the drinking experience, my feet and legs were less swollen.
- Activation effect: I wouldn’t say I “uprooted trees” in high water, but since the third day of my self-experiment I have felt less tired. During the “drinking week” I didn’t even have a slight headache, which subconsciously appears over and over again.
- Weight: I wasn’t expecting major miracles to happen in a week, but I mixed it with high-fiber foods like veggies, lettuce, legumes, and whole grains, and I always felt comfortably full from day one. Due to the higher volume of the stomach – thanks to the water itself and the bulging fibers – this result is not surprising to me and can be explained either physically or nutritionally. The stretched stomach wall sends the “I feel full” message to the brain. At the end of the week I was about a kilogram lighter – whether that was due to the draining effect or the saturation could not be clearly judged after such a short time.
- The effect of “detoxing”: Drinking more water supports the kidneys in their function of excreting unwanted substances such as toxins, metabolic waste products and other harmful substances. Just as with slight weight loss, no meaningful evaluation can be made in a week. The same goes for the plumping effect: I had a feeling that my skin was a little pink and my hair was less dry, but my wrinkles weren’t completely gone.
After my subjective experience, will I continue to drink 4 to 5 liters of water each day? not exactly. I will continue to make sure I drink enough in the future, but I think 2.5 to 3 liters of drinks is quite enough. So that I don’t get dehydrated, I’ll always have a “go to” water bottle with me in the future. On the days when I swim or go to the aqua gym and then to the sauna, I can do more.