Are You Mistaking Hunger for Thirst?
Next time you’ve got a hunger on, drink a glass of water and wait 7 minutes before grabbing a bite to eat. Read on to find out why this tip can help you maintain a healthy mind and body – and help you lose weight!
Researchers have made an interesting observation: the sensations of hunger and thirst are triggered simultaneously in our brains. Over time, we lose the ability to differentiate between the two signals and we confuse thirst for hunger.
For this reason, many of us will reach for food instead of a drink. And did you know that the body is so dependent on water for all its processes, even the slightest bit of dehydration can have serious effects?
Studies show that a 2% decrease in the water surrounding our cells may lead to a 20% drop in energy levels!
Insufficient levels of water may cause a reduction in blood volume, meaning less oxygen reaches the muscles. As we become more dehydrated, the blood becomes concentrated with salt and waste products. These solutes take water from the salivary glands creating a sensation of thirst.
But guess what? Thirst is not an indication of dehydration! It’s believed that by the time you become thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated.
How Thirst/Hunger Confusion Contributes to Weight Gain
When we do reach for a beverage, it’s usually fruit juices, coffee, tea or fizzy drinks. We think that because there’s water in these bevvies, we’re giving our bodies what it needs. If we do choose these more interesting drinks over water, we end up gaining weight.
Why? Anything we eat or drink besides plain water is turned into sugar. This increases insulin production which dries out the system and causes insulin-produced hunger. The food we eat as a result of excess insulin instantly turns into fat.
We also feel hungry when our blood-sugar levels are low. We tend to then reach for the first sugary or filling food we can find when in fact water is an adequate source of energy through the process of hydrolysis.
Hydrolysis is the splitting of water’s hydrogen and oxygen atoms. When this is done, energy is released. The energy generated by water produces a compound in the body (adenosine tri-phosphate or ATP) which stores energy for cellular metabolism.
Caffeinated products do a real number on us. They have both addictive and diuretic properties. The water in theses drinks does not stay long enough in the body to satisfy our thirst, although they produce feelings of pleasure in the brain.
But because we’re drinking, we assume that the sensations of thirst are actually hunger so we eat to satisfy these feelings.
Do You Need Water?
If we’re experiencing thirst after dehydration has set in, then how do we know when we need water to hydrate? One big indicator is the colour of your urine. If it’s dark, you need water. If it’s light in colour, you’re all good.
Experts say we need approximately 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. However, if you’re losing water through your sweat glands in hot weather or through activity, you need more.
Next time you think you’re hungry, drink a glass of water and wait 7 to 15 minutes. If you’re satisfied, then you were thirsty, not hungry. Try carrying water with you at all times and sip on it intermittently. While working out, make sure to drink before, during and after to make sure you’re replenishing your water levels.
Do you have any tips for us to maintain hydration and differentiate between thirst and hunger?