Water is a nutrient all its own, helping every cell in your body function properly. Most people get about 20 percent of their water through food and the rest by drinking water or other beverages. To meet Institute of Medicine water-intake recommendations, men should drink about 13 cups of nonalcoholic fluids per day, while women should drink about 9 cups per day.
Proper hydration is important for overall health. Without proper hydration, you become dehydrated, which means your body does not have enough water to function normally. You lose water every day when you breathe, sweat and go to the bathroom. The water content in the foods you eat and the beverages you drink combine to hydrate your body.
Hydration is essential to peak athletic performance. When you do not consume enough liquid or fresh fruits and vegetables to stay properly hydrated, you end up thirsty and light headed. Insufficient hydration fatigues your muscles, reduces your coordination and causes muscle cramps. While working out or playing sports, dehydration compromises the body’s ability to cool itself through sweating. This leads to heat exhaustion and in extreme cases a potentially life-threatening condition called heat stroke.
Consume part of the water required for proper daily hydration before your meals to control your appetite according to a study by researchers from Virginia Tech and reported at the 2010 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. Drinking 16 oz. of water before meals three times a day over a 12-week period increased average weight loss by about 5 lbs., compared with those who did not increase water intake. Researchers could not definitively say what caused the additional weight loss but speculate it fills up the stomach making you feel fuller.