Why Water Makes You Weighty If you could find a pleasant way of drying yourself up, you could immediately reduce your weight about 70% by removing the water from your person.
This “drying out” process is well known to prize fighters who are forced to trim down to a specified weight. By restricting liquid intake and at the same time increasing perspiration outgo through vigorous pummeling of sparring partners, they are able to lose several pounds of water in a brief time. An hour’s boxing match can take off as much as seven or eight pounds of pugilistic weight.
Reducing salts, steam baths, strenuous exercise and similar measures can take the water out of you too—but your fat quotient is changed very little. Water lost by exercise or other means is invariably replaced because it is humanly impossible to avoid water intake over any great period. Even if you manfully or womanfully restrain yourself from drinking water, you are bound to get it in food, for even such a dry substance as smoked ham is more than half water.
It is only human to be respectful of things that are expensive, and on that basis water deserves your highest esteem. Father Joseph J. Sullivan, head of the chemistry department of Holy Cross College, has calculated the dollars-and-cents value of the water we buy in common foods. Taking 25 cents per 1,000 gallons as the average price of drinking water from the tap, he has found that:
Water in cabbage costs over $300 per 100 cubic feet.
Carrots contain water costing $600 per 100 cubic feet.
Asparagus provides water at a rate of $1,000 per 100 cubic feet.
Corn on the cob taxes you $2,500 per 100 cubic feet for its water content.
And—look out!—100 cubic feet of water yielded by egg plant, cucumber, or broccoli costs you anywhere from $5,000 to $6,000!
Mother Nature knows how to turn a neat profit on her raw materials, but it would be churlish to make a fuss about it, for these succulent foods would be about as flavorsome as old gunnysacks if the water were removed.
Water is more necessary than food from one point of view it is food. Water is the great temperature regulator, the basic fluid medium for all the body’s processes, and the supply is guarded zealously. The brain contains water in practically the same proportion as milk. You have to have water to think, to move, to exist.
But there can be too much of a good thing. Waterlogged tissues may not be fat tissues, but that’s the way they strike the public eye. You cannot control your water content by exercise or intake, to any satisfactory extent. It is important in reducing to take enough water. Unless there is sufficient moisture in the tissues you can’t break down and burn up fat. There is no valid health rule that can set down your water needs arbitrarily at six or eight or ten glasses a day. A great deal depends on what you eat, too. The safest rule is to drink enough water so that the color of the urine is a light straw yellow.
One way to prevent water retention is to be sure that you get enough protein. Your reducing diets will provide that. When protein is severely restricted, water tends to accumulate in the tissues and make them puffy.
A second means of controlling water retention by diet is by restricting the use o£ common salt. Salt has a natural affinity for water; look at the Pacific Ocean. Internally, your fluid economy is something of an ocean itself, in that it contains mineral salts in approximately the same proportions as are found in the seven seas.
Salt holds about seventy times its weight of water in the tissues. If you get a mental picture of one surplus teaspoonful of salt holding seventy teaspoons of water in captivity in your person, you may be encouraged to reduce your salinity. Unless there is water retention, however, or some heart or kidney condition, it is not necessary to restrict salt too severely in the diet.
Practically, this can be done by avoiding too liberal use of the salt cellar at the table and in the kitchen. Instead o£ salt, which is sodium chloride, you can substitute potassium chloride. As the salt surplus dwindles, excess water that it has held in subjection gradually disappears.
An increase in potassium discourages water retention too. Vegetables are, in general, rich in potassium and low in calories. Reducing diets allow liberal use of vegetables of low calorie value, and there is an added virtue in the tendency of their potassium to drive out surplus water. Of course if you yield to the natural urge to sprinkle vegetables with common salt, this benefit will be foregone.
In a commendable desire to be fair, water keeps your weight down as well as up. One-fourth of the calories you consumed in yesterday’s meals have already escaped from your person in the form of water vapor—as insensible or invisible perspiration, and in the moist air exhaled from your lungs.
If you don’t believe it, breathe a few calories onto a mirror!