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Hydrate Your Plate for Healthy Weight and Well-Being

posted Jun 8, 2018, 12:47 PM by Evangelina DiSpirito, RDN, E-RYT   [ updated Aug 28, 2018, 6:27 AM ]

by Evangelina DiSpirito, RDN, E-RYT

The summer heat will soon be upon us, and fluid needs may increase, especially if you are physically active or on a very low carbohydrate diet.  Exercising outdoors can cause more sweat loss.  Low carbohydrate diets, which cause muscle and fat breakdown in the body, will result in more frequent urination.  Excessive sweat and urination can lead to dehydration if fluids are not being consumed. Don’t like the idea of drinking water all day?  The good news is that many foods have plenty of water which can help you achieve your body’s fluid needs.   An incentive for drinking water and eating foods with high water content is that these hydration practices promote healthy weight and well-being.   

Water Boosts Metabolism

Water comprises 50% to 70% of body mass in adults, with women having less water percentage than men.  The difference is because men tend to have more lean body mass, which holds more water.  Every cell in our body needs water to thrive. Fluids are essential to lubricate joints, transport nutrients to all cells of the body help cool the body temperature down, and stave off hunger.   In fact, people often mistake dehydration for hunger.   Try drinking half a cup to a full 8-ounce cup of water before you have a meal or snack.  You may end up eating less.   

Research has revealed that water may help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.  According to a study published in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, 50 female participants with a BMI of 25 -29.9, which is classified as overweight, were instructed to drink 1.5 liters of water daily for eight weeks.  At the end of the 8 weeks, researchers found that drinking water promoted body fat loss as well as suppressed the appetite.  This study supports previous research, where scientists found that water acts as a natural appetite suppressant, as well as increasing metabolism.


Well-balanced Hydration for Improved Mood

Staying well hydrated can affect your mood, according to two separate studies at the University of Connecticut.    Females and males, ranging in age from 20 to 23, took part in a study to assess the effects of dehydration on cognition and mood.  Participants took a series of tests to determine their cognitive and behavioral changes after dehydration was induced.  When compared to regular hydration versus dehydration, females, and males both experienced headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.  However, the women experienced more significant changes in mood than the men, according to the study.   


Water is lost through perspiration, urination, bowel movements and sweat.  Proper hydration helps restore daily water loss.   Not staying adequately hydrated can slow many of our bodily functions, such as digestion, as well as slowing our thought processes, metabolism, and energy level.  Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids than we intake, about 1% of body weight.  Symptoms of dehydration can mimic many conditions we often treat with medication, for example, headaches, hot flashes, and even dry eyes.  Checking the color of your urine first thing in the morning and throughout the day is a good indicator of your hydration status (see urine color chart).  The following are a list of symptoms of dehydration.


Mild to Moderate Dehydration:

Dark colored urine (if not taking excess vitamins)


Muscle cramps

Less frequent urination and constipation

Dry eyes

Reduced Skin Elasticity


Easily Overheated



Serious Symptoms 

Excessive Sleepiness

Disorientation and confusion


How Much Water Should I Drink?

If you experienced one or more of the above symptoms, perhaps try drinking more water and eating more foods that are rich in fluids (see table below).  The national Food and Nutrition Board reports that approximately "20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from beverages". 

To determine how much water you should drink, an easy guide to follow is the "eight (8) ounces of water daily" rule, to prevent dehydration. Although drinking 8 glasses of water is not based on scientific data, the 64 ounces (1.9 L per day) brings you closer to the recommendation for water set by the Food and Nutrition Board, which is as follows:

Women:  2.7 liters (91 ounces, which is 11 cups) of total fluids from all beverages and foods each day.

Men: 3.7 liters (125 ounces, which is 15 cups) of total fluids from all food and beverages.

It’s important to note that not everyone will have the same fluid needs.  Daily fluid needs will vary among individuals and is based typically on age, weight, activity level, the geographic region one resides in, or if one is pregnant or breastfeeding.   Some individuals have to take in consideration medical conditions or medication use.  Speak to your doctor or registered dietitian regarding your specific fluid needs.  

Hydrate your plate with the high-water-content foods

The more meals you eat that contain high water content foods, the more likely you will achieve healthy hydration.  Additionally, getting your fluids from foods with high water content will ensure you get the electrolytes you need when you have high water losses, as well as prevent over-hydration.  Below is a chart to help guide your food choices when planning your meals.  Aim to choose foods that have higher water content, especially if you are experiencing symptoms of dehydration.    Notice that the more plant-based and less processed the foods are, the higher the percentage of water.  

Water (Percentage)






Asparagus, beans, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, strawberries, squash(cooked), soy milk, skim milk, watermelon, soups




Apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, beets, broccoli, (cooked), pears, pineapple


Bananas, avocados, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, potato (baked), corn (cooked), shrimp


Pasta, legumes, salmon, ice cream, chicken breast, roasted turkey,



Ground beef, feta cheese,







Cheddar cheese, bagels, bread


Pepperoni sausage, cake, biscuits

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Check with your doctor first for any serious dehydration symptoms or symptoms that continue to persist.   

For additional questions on this blog please feel free to contact ILC's Registered Dietitian: