You know drinking water is good for you, right? As a nutrition coach who specializes in digestive disorders, I’m practically a personal PR agent for water. There’s that whole proper hydration, high energy, good digestion, glowing skin thing that you want to get in on. Yet, you and your empty glass can’t be bothered to hit the water cooler more than once or twice a day. Well, there’s good news if you’re looking for an excuse not to drink some H2O. That’s right, you can skip drinking water a few times in your day.
1. With Meals
You now have permission to stop downing gallons of water at mealtime. Too much water can often mean less chewing, more gulping, and may lead to tougher digestion. While experts disagree on the issue, some people who flood their system with water during mealtime experience more bloat than without.
Ali Miller, RD, LD, CDE, integrative dietitian, and author of “Naturally Nourished: Food-As-Medicine for Optimal Health,” says that drinking excessive water during mealtime dilutes your digestive enzymes and gastric juices “which are necessary to optimize the breakdown of food particles and enhance the absorption of nutrients.” She warns against drinking while eating. “If we over-hydrate at meal times, we can be left with bloating, reflux, and less nutritional density at meals.”
Instead of downing water while you eat, drink up a half-hour before meal time, and an hour after. Of course, sip water as needed if food is spicy or too fibrous and require assistance.
2. During Moderate Exercise
Water and exercise have always gone hand-in-hand, and drinking water still makes sense if you’re doing serious, endurance training. For the rest of us mere mortals, drinking water while doing more low impact exercise is often unnecessary. You should be coming to a workout already fully hydrated so that there’s no need for big gulps of water.
Los Angeles yoga practitioner and Mandala Center cofounder Saul David Raye says, “Before yoga practice the stomach should be fairly empty. Someone could take some sips of water, but try to make sure that the belly is not full. If possible during yoga, practice not drinking any water to allow a deeper stimulation of the body’s healing energies.” Raye further explains that in Ayurveda and yoga, you’re trying to build an inner fire, and too much water can inhibit that process.
Then there’s the fact that doing deep twists in yoga can be downright painful if you’re trying to turn a stomach full of water. It also interrupts breathing and energy flow and can be seen as a “get-out-of-this-hard-pose” free card. Of course, if you’re feeling lightheaded and dehydrated, take a break and have some sips, but also see it as a warning sign to fuel up better before your next workout.
3. Immediately Before Bed
You may want to throw back a gallon of water before bed to play catch up after a day of little water consumption, but try to stop drinking about an hour before your head hits the pillow. Extra water will lay hard in your stomach and have you heading for the bathroom halfway through that blissful, deep REM sleep.
Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE author of “Belly Fat Diet For Dummies,” says, “waking up to use the bathroom leads to an interruption in your sleep cycle which can impact energy levels, mood, as well as appetite and cravings the next day.” So drink slow and steady throughout the day, and you and your body should be fully hydrated for the next.
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