Making up over two-thirds of the weight of the human body, water is an essential part of a healthy diet. Without it, cells and organs would not be able to function properly. However, water in itself is not enough to sustain your body on its own.
What is the Water Diet?
There are many variations of this diet, ranging from mild to extreme. On the extreme end, an individual forgoes food and relies only on water. Gradually, these variations add in small amounts of food like fruits or vegetables. Essentially, this version of the water diet is just another name for fasting. And while fasting for a normal, healthy person may not outwardly hurt you, it is not an advisable route to weight loss. Initially, these types of diets do tend to produce results. However, the built up hunger can lead to binging and weight regain. Without proper nourishment, your hunger will grow so much that most tend to revert back to their normal eating patterns, regaining the weight that they lost initially.
What About a Cold Water Diet?
One of the less restricting versions of the water diet is not actually a diet at all. An individual continues with their normal intake, the only stipulation being that they drink a certain amount of cold water every day. The thought is that the body expends extra calories heating up the ice-cold water to our normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees. This idea was developed from the belief that our bodies expend energy to warm up. While it is true that your body will work to raise the temperature, it will only expend a small amount of calories to do this.
Pros and Cons
Drinking adequate water does have its benefits. It will help leave you feeling fuller longer, making you less inclined to overeat. Water can also help to flush out any toxins that build up in the body. However, when your main intake is comprised of water, your body is being deprived of the many vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from food that it needs to function properly. Not getting enough of the nutrients can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, constipation, dehydration and not being able to tolerate cold temperatures. In addition, fasting for long periods of time can be life-threatening.
In addition, the weight lost in individuals on these restrictive types of diets tends to come from muscle rather than fat tissue. This can lead to a reduction in metabolism, meaning you will have to eat much less to maintain weight loss. While on a fast, your body adjusts by curbing your appetite, so you will feel less hungry at first. However, once you have ended your fast, your appetite builds right back up, often leaving you feeling hungrier and more likely to overeat.
The Dietary Reference Intake for water is about 91-125 fluid ounces (2.7-3.7 liters) per day for adults. This total is a combination of both food and beverages. While it may not produce the quick results most crave, maintaining a healthy diet plan in addition to consuming proper amounts of water will bring about weight loss in a safe, sustainable way.
Sarah Dreifke is a freelance writer based in DeKalb, IL with a passion for nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease. She holds a Bachelor of Science in both Dietetics and Life Sciences Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she is working towards a combined Master's Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics as well as a dietetic internship at Northern Illinois University.