When and what water to drink is the healthiest?
Updated: Apr 30
If you want to lose weight or start a healthy diet, you will certainly come across a question of whether to drink water during or after a meal. Is it healthier to drink warm water or cold water? Looking for an answer to these questions you will encounter the old myths like “it's not good to drink water during or after a meal because it dilutes gastric juice and interferes with digestion” or “it is better to drink cold water because it burns more calories”, etc.
Food in the stomach is digested for an average of 3 to 4 hours before it enters the intestine, while a glass of water in the stomach only stays about 5 to 15 minutes. Whether you drink water on an empty stomach or during or after a meal, the water will leave the stomach in 5 to 15 minutes without diluting any juice. Besides, the stomach is perfectly able to regulate the composition of juice. If a glass of water reduced acidity, we would no longer be needing medication that reduces acidity.
Drink when you want!
Digestion is a process that largely depends on water and some digestive reactions directly require water. The stomach, pancreas and other organs produce juice, which consists of water. If the body lacks water, the production and secretion of digestive juices decreases and their viscosity increases, which leads to a decrease in the activity of digestive enzymes. What happens when drinking water during a meal:
you eat slower because you need to drink, you get a sense of fullness faster and eat less food;
food is well moistened and softened, which makes it easier to be accessed by digestive enzymes;
digestion improves and the risk of constipation reduces;
The body absorbs various substances from food most easily when it is well chewed and liquid-like paste. Liquids consumed during meals help to achieve this consistency faster.
However, is it better to drink cold or warm water?
Warm water (36-37 C):
slows the gastric motor activity and secretion; stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for “rest and digest”;
provides the body with water faster and more efficiently as the water is of body temperature;
improves the function of digestive enzymes and accelerates digestion;
reduces the risk of reflux and helps to eliminate constipation;
reduces hunger and the risk of overeating;
drink warm water: in the morning on an empty stomach, during or after a meal;
Cold water (10-18 C)
stimulates gastric motor activity and secretion; activates the sympathetic nervous system, which is also called “fight or flight”;
accelerates metabolism as the body has to warm up water to body temperature itself and this process consumes a considerable amount of energy;
cold water and water with ice-cubes slows down the function of digestive enzymes as enzymes operate most optimally when water and food are of body temperature;
may increase the risk of reflux, cause flatulence and constipation;
drink cold water: between meals;
Restore the fluid balance in the morning:
You don’t drink or eat at night and you lose about 0.5 liters of fluid in the morning because your metabolism doesn’t stop at night. Drink 1 - 2 glasses of warm water (not tea or coffee) in the morning on an empty stomach. Warm water will help to quickly restore the fluid balance, improve the function of the stomach and intestines and prevent constipation.
If you are over 40, restoring fluid in the morning can help reduce the risk of stroke, because according to statistics, most strokes occur in the morning from 5 to 8 o’clock.
Maintain fluid balance during the day:
cold water between meals: 40 minutes before meals and 1.5-2 hours after eating;
warm water during or after meals;
You will provide the body with water and improve digestion as well as transportation and absorption of nutrients.
If you are an emotional eater or addicted to sweets and overeat often, drink 1 - 2 glasses of warm water before the main meals or drink water or tea during a meal in small sips!
Body temperature food and water are the healthiest for your body: neither too hot nor too cold!