The benefits of water are well known, but experts say reaching for H2O before your morning cup of coffee could jumpstart your system just when you need it most.
After going several hours without a sip, a serving of water first thing can hydrate the body while aiding digestion and metabolism. Here’s what experts advise.
The body’s ‘gold standard fluid’
Water does wonders for our wellness. Angela Lemond, national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, calls it “the gold standard fluid for the body.”
“An adult body is around 55-60% water,” she said, so “drinking water everyday is vital for the body to work correctly.”
Lemond has heard theories that drinking two glasses in the morning on an empty stomach can aid digestion and other functions. While no studies she’s seen confirm this, it does make “some biochemical sense.”
“Our bodies are pretty dry when we wake up in the morning,” she said. “Drinking a couple glasses of water to allow the body to rehydrate allows for better digestion when you do eat. It also helps with moving the lower bowels for regularity in the mornings.
“If you are not properly hydrated, body processes do not work as efficiently.”
Make your metabolism more effective
Drinking water doesn’t cause a significant calorie burn, said Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics based in New York. But “it does ensure that your metabolism is functioning optimally.”
It can stave off the munchies, too: Your body can mistake thirst for hunger when you’re dehydrated, Rumsey said, leading to overeating. She also advises starting the day in a hydrated state.
“After being asleep all night, we wake up every day slightly dehydrated,” Rumsey said. “Starting the day with two glasses of water upon waking is a great way to begin the day hydrated.”
As for the ideal temperature of drinking water, it doesn’t matter much.
“Drinking enough water to stay hydrated is more important than whether it is warm or cold,” Rumsey said. “The amount of energy our bodies have to use to warm up cold water is negligible, so it really doesn’t make that much of a difference.”
For optimal digestion, Lemond recommends water at room temperature.
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How many glasses?
Feeling thirsty is a sure sign you need water, but experts say you shouldn’t wait until signs of dehydration. Most people need somewhere between 60 to 100 ounces of water per day, said Rumsey: “The more physically active you are, the more fluids you will need to replace sweat loss.”
Lemond recommends 90 to 120 ounces daily for adults, though this could vary greatly depending on energy level, sweat rate and medical history. Foods we eat, such as fruit or hot soups, contain some water, too, she noted.
Don’t drink and dine
According to Lemond, it’s ideal to not drink anything during meals—water included.
“For digestive health, we do say that drinking nothing during a meal is best, followed by the second best thing, drinking room temperature water.
“This is more to avoid digestive issues such as gas and bloating more than anything,” Lemond said. Nothing she’s seen suggests pairing water with food could inhibit nutrient absorption, she added.
Drinking enough water before and after meals can help ensure optimal digestion, Lemond said, granting the body enough fluid to produce the necessary gastric juices to properly break down food.