We’ve all had those nights: it was a long day and you don’t have the energy to cook so you turn to delivery pizza for some comfort food. Then you dive into the ice cream. This turns into a nightly ritual, and before you know it, you’ve added some extra pounds around your middle and you want them gone…FAST. You suddenly start to wonder if you can start a sugar detox by drinking a lot of water. Water will keep you hydrated and assist your kidneys in flushing out toxins, so hydration is important on your journey to shed the pizza pounds. But will it flush fat and sugar out of your body?
In a perfect world, it would be easy to eat the right proportion of fats and sugars for our activity level, and all of our foods would be natural and unprocessed. This may be the best of all possible worlds, but it’s far from perfect, and the processed foods we eat are easy to overeat as well. We satiate our thirst signals with diet sodas and juices, which don’t have the hydration potential our body is looking for. Drinking water as part of a healthy lifestyle will make your quest to get fit and lose fat much more effective.
Is Water A Fat Flush Detox?
Drinking water will not help flush out the sugar in your body, but exercising more will help you increase your body’s ability to burn off stored sugar and fat. High-intensity exercise may be the most advantageous, but that isn’t the only way. The best kind of exercise is the kind that you’ll actually do, so whatever gets you moving, go do that! There are plenty of studies that indicate simple walking, especially in nature, can help you lose fat and stay healthy, so put a podcast in your ears and get outside.
Sugar & Your Kidneys
The pancreas plays a major role in sugar metabolism, but it isn’t the only player. They kidneys play an integral role as well. Let’s take a look at what the kidneys do and how they function to get a get a better understanding of why it isn’t so simple as flushing sugar out of your body. Blood glucose must be tightly regulated, and that’s the chief role of the kidneys.
One of the primary functions of your kidneys is to filter your blood. They take every ounce of your blood and filter it through complicated mechanisms, removing waste, toxins, and extra water to create the urine that will leave your body while preserving the good stuff, like electrolyte minerals, for your body to use.
The kidneys use the glucose filtered from your blood for their own immediate energy needs, then reabsorb any remaining sugar and reintroduce it into the bloodstream to try to conserve it. After all, the body understands that glucose is a critical source of energy and does not want to waste it.
Fun fact! One of the original methods that doctors used to diagnose diabetes was to observe if a patient had sweet urine. Sugar in the urine means that the kidneys are not effectively doing their job, and that there is even more sugar in the bloodstream which is not being mopped up by insulin from the pancreas. If you want to take a guess at how doctors knew urine was sweet, well, it’s the obvious answer.
What Does It Mean to Constantly Crave Water?
Your kidneys can only handle about 180 milligrams per deciliter of glucose at a time. Some of that glucose leaks into your urine at higher levels. Technically, drinking more water would remove excess sugar from your bood because it would cause you to excrete more urine, which would contain glucose, but this is usually only a problem for diabetics. Repeatedly exposing your kidneys to high levels of glucose can harm them, as can drinking excessive or insufficient amounts of water.
Sugar Detox With Exercise
Exercise is a great way to support burning off excess sugar! When you consume sugar, your body performs several functions. It uses what it needs right away for energy, converts some of what's left to glycogen storage in the liver and muscles, and then turns the rest into fat to store in adipose — or fat — tissue. High circulating levels of glucose are inflammatory and can cause damage to tissues, especially the delicate endothelium lining your blood vessels. Your body is smart, so it converts that excess glucose to triglycerides and safely stores it as fat in a process known as lipogenesis. (Safe is, of course, a relative term, since excess adipose tissue and elevated triglycerides present their own health challenges.)
This is important to understand because during exercise, your body uses circulating blood glucose and stored muscle glycogen for energy. In other words, if you've consumed too much sugar, exercise can assist you in performing a sugar cleanse by burning off the excess sugar. What's more fascinating is that the rate at which you burn off the sugar increases as the intensity or duration of the exercise increases.
In the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Physiology, researchers note that low-intensity exercise can deplete your glucose by 10-15%. By adding intensity, such as running faster, you can deplete over 70% of your glucose! Even if you don’t enjoy intense exercise, walking will help regulate blood sugar levels, and it’s easy to take a water bottle with you to stay hydrated
How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?
Although water will not directly help flush sugar from your body, it is still important to drink enough of it. If you aren’t drinking enough water, you’ll inhibit your energy production and your ability to burn off stored body fat, as well as interfere with glucose metabolism, so hydrate often. Getting enough water keeps your body healthy, which is the foundation of getting fit and losing excess body fat. It also keeps you hydrated and gives you energy to help you get through those high-intensity workouts, or to just get through any normal day.
Exactly how much water you, personally, need every day will vary. If it’s warm out and you’re doing a hard workout, you’ll need more water than on a day when you’re sitting in a cool office building. According to Roxanne Sukol, MD, a doctor of preventive medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, water requirements vary greatly depending on factors such as age, metabolism, and even the temperature around you.
Your water requirements vary from day to day depending on how much you sweat. You need more water on days when you do a high-intensity workout than on days when you do something with less impact.
Sukol adds that focusing on your urine is a good rule of thumb. You can tell if you need more water by the appearance and smell of your pee. If your urine is pale or almost clear with little to no odor, you're probably well hydrated. You should drink more water if it's dark yellow and has a strong ammonia odor.
Can You Drink Too Much Water?
It is possible to consume too much water, so don’t overdo it. If you do, Harvard Health warns that you can dilute the electrolytes in your blood, especially sodium. This can contribute to hyponatremia, also known as "water poisoning," which can cause brain swelling and even death (though this is extremely rare). When we excrete water through our urine, it carries with it valuable minerals, including the electrolyte minerals that help regulate energy production, muscle function, the firing of nerves, and brain activity. When you’re hydrating, make sure you include at least one drink each day that’s rich in the electrolyte minerals without added sugar, such as Electrolyte Recovery Plus. This electrolyte drink mix will satisfy your sweet cravings without increasing your blood glucose, and will replenish the electrolytes that help you feel your best.
So, if you overdid it on the sugar, don't overdo it on the water. You're better off just drinking enough water and electrolytes to keep your kidneys working and getting some exercise until your body is back in balance.