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Body Fat Percentage & Hydration

by Drew Rivetty

About Drew Rivetty

Los Angeles-based Drew Rivetty is a freelancer and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Rivetty has covered sports in California, reported from Alaska and written from eight countries across East Asia. Drew holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Belmont University. His work has appeared in Asia Times, BusinessWeek and the Juneau Empire.

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If you're trying to lose weight and are not hitting your goals, you may be underestimating the role water plays in weight loss. Drinking water can crank up your metabolism so that it burns more fat and keep you energized for workouts, both of which can lower your body fat percentage, according to fitness researcher Dr. Ellington Darden. Without adequate hydration, your efforts to lose weight can stall.

Boost Metabolism

Your metabolism is responsible for using body fat as fuel, so it’s important to make it run as fast as possible. Your body needs water to process calories, so even mild dehydration will cause your metabolism to slow down. Metabolic rate increases 30 percent after drinking two cups of water, according to a study in the December 2003 "Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism."

feed Your Muscles

Without muscle, you wouldn’t be able to exercise and burn unwanted fat. Most muscle tissue is nearly 75 percent water, so water is crucial to keeping it active. In contrast, fat is only 15 to 25 percent water. As you become dehydrated, you feel it first in areas mostly made of water, such as muscle, according to Darden. Drinking more water fuels your muscles. It also lubricates your joints which helps make workouts easier and more effective.

Balance Your Hormones

Hormones play a huge role in weight loss. During dehydration, insulin resistance increases and testosterone decreases, according to a July 2008 study in the "Journal of Applied Physiology." Insulin regulates fat storage, and if insulin increases, the body will shuttle fat into its adipose tissues. A decline in testosterone can also lead to an increase in abdominal fat, even in women. A well hydrated body would not trigger these responses.

Support Your Liver

One of the liver’s main functions is to metabolize fat into energy. But if the water-dependent kidneys are lagging behind due to dehydration, then the liver picks up the slack and forgoes its fat metabolizing responsibilities, according to Darden. When this happens, fat loss stops or plateaus. Regular hydration measures are needed to keep the kidneys functional and the liver focused on burning fat.

Fight Fatigue

Drinking water will combat the fatigue that often leads to skipping workouts. being dehydrated can decrease your blood volume, making your heart work harder to supply skin and muscles with oxygen and nutrients, according to holistic fatigue therapist Amir Norris. This can also lead to muscle cramps and light-headedness. Furthermore, water is the body’s main source of energy, as it generates electrical and magnetic energy inside cells, according to author Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj in "Your Body's Many Cries For Water."

Photo Credits:

  • Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.