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"Diet and exercise" – that's the mantra that most people swear by, when it comes to losing weight the healthy way. But the word "diet" is more than just the food put on a plate. A very important component of a healthy diet is the amount of water a person drinks in a day.
While drinking water is not a magic pill to shed those pounds faster, not being adequately hydrated could make weight loss a little harder.
Water helps your body to function correctly. Water is required for a number of chemical reactions and metabolic processes that take place in individual cells, tissues and organs. But if you don't drink sufficient water, these reactions and processes will not function the way they're supposed to. And this could affect your overall metabolism.
Sometimes, the body is not able to differentiate between hunger and thirst. So if you feel hungry and tempted to snack on high-calorie food, have a glass of water first. It could be that you are, in fact, just thirsty and the glass of water would make you feel full and prevent you from consuming the extra calories.
Drinking water some time before a meal has its benefits in overall weight loss, possibly because you feel full and therefore tend to eat smaller portions of food at mealtime. In one study, people who drank water before a meal ate about 75 calories fewer during the meal. That, in itself, may not seem like much. But 75 x 365 (days in a year) means 27375 calories less in a year, which corresponds to an approximately 4 kilo weight loss, without much effort on your part.
Drinking sufficient quantities of water is also important for your kidneys to function correctly and reduce the risk of kidney stones. Water also helps to prevent constipation.
There is no place here to discuss all the studies that talk about weight loss and water. But let us look at two studies:
In one study, there were 48 overweight and obese middle-aged adults who were put on a low-calorie diet. Some of them were asked to drink about 500 ml of water before each of their three meals a day. At the end of three months, those who drank the extra water lost about 2 kgs more than those who didn't drink water.
Another study looked at how people tend to gain weight as they get older. This study was carried out over 4 years. Those who had a higher intake of water and those who substituted their sugar-sweetened beverage consumption with water were less likely to put on weight over the years.
If you are on a diet to lose weight, you will definitely be keeping an eye on your calories on your plate. But remember to watch your fluid intake as well!
Here's a quick list of what you should drink and what you should stay a mile away from, when losing weight.