Experiment: 10 things I learned by drinking only water for a month

Original author: Chris Bailey
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We continue to acquaint you with translations of Chris Bailey's articles, where he shares tips he learned during the “a Year of Productivity” project . Previously, we published articles by this author, they are available on our blog in the section "personal productivity" . We want to remind you that the common goal of all articles is to share the author’s experience on how to become more successful and effective everywhere: in your personal life, relationships with friends, yourself, and of course at work (whatever you do)!

So, give the floor to Chris!

The whole of February, I drank only water as an experiment to increase my productivity.I did not drink a coffee-based drink before training, did not drink tea at noon, and did not drink red wine on Valentine's Day and alcohol on my girlfriend's birthday. The most unusual thing I drank all month was a cup of hot water with lemon.

To tell you the truth, I did not expect this experiment to teach me much, but looking back, I understand that I learned a lot of everything. This article is long, but I know you will learn a lot from it, and I tried to make the information as accessible as possible.

Without further introduction, here are 10 lessons I learned when I drank only water for a whole month!

10. Every day you drink as much as 400 calories!

The average person drinks as many as 400 calories daily! [1]

Simple arithmetic is enough to calculate how drinking more water will help you lose weight. To lose about 450 g of weight, you need to burn (or not get enough) 3,500 calories, although this figure depends on the speed of your metabolism and how much fluid and muscle tissue you lose when you lower the calorie content of your diet. [2] This means that if you only drink water (or drinks without calories), then after 9 days you will lose about 450 g of weight. This is equal to the number of calories your body burns on a run at a speed of 8 km / h in 30 minutes daily for 9 days!

Losing weight is not so easy, but drinking water is one of the easiest ways to cut back on calories.

Drinking water will not only help you reduce the intake of unhealthy high-calorie drinks, but also help suppress your appetite, as a result of which the number of calories in your diet will also decrease.

9. Find out the main triggers that motivate you to drink something.

I think one of the key factors in changing your habits is the awareness of what drives your behavior. Take a second to ask yourself why you are tempted to drink something other than water - this is a good way to get yourself to drink more wholesome drinks.

There is always a reason why you drink a particular drink or why you drink too much during the day, and you need to realize whether it is good for your health or not. Personally, I can find 8 reasons why you drink other drinks besides water (if you know other reasons, voice them in the comments and I will add them to the article!):
  1. Social (for example, you are at a party or order coffee for a company with someone).
  2. To increase the amount of energy (drinks with caffeine or sugar).
  3. For pleasure (for example, cool beer after a long working day).
  4. Nutritious (drinking water to saturate the body with liquid).
  5. For health (e.g. protein shakes or fruit smoothies).
  6. Due to addiction (for example, you are used to caffeinated or sugary drinks).
  7. For fun (for example, you decide to drink a collection bottle of red wine).
  8. For relaxation (e.g. a cup of herbal tea in the evening).

When it comes to your mind to drink something that is not good for yourself, perhaps there is a substitute that will satisfy your need in the same way, but without harm to health.

Another wonderful way to control what you drink is to pay attention to the stimulants that make you drink one or the other. They can always be assigned to one or more of five categories: a certain time of day (for example, morning), a certain place (for example, Starbucks), the presence of certain people (for example, colleagues), a certain emotion (for example, a feeling of lack of energy), or behavior that has become a ritual (for example, awakening from sleep).


8. Caffeine increases the effectiveness of sports

imageIt was found that caffeine significantly improves athletic performance, which is probably why more than two-thirds of the 20,000 participants in the Olympic Games had caffeine in their blood after the World Anti-Doping Agency removed it from the list of banned substances. [3]

According to studies, caffeine significantly increases the productivity of both aerobic and strength training:
  • It has been proven that caffeine increases the amount of fatty acids circulating in the blood, which allows people to run or pedal for longer [4], which means they significantly increase endurance in sports such as running and cycling.
  • In one study, weightlifters performed much more repetitions than participants who took a placebo, and also reported that they subjectively felt much less tired and, most interestingly, were not opposed to repeating the entire workout again soon. [5]

Although the researchers did not come to a definite conclusion about how much specifically caffeine should be consumed before training, I usually consume 100-150 mg of caffeine with a drink that I drink before exercise. During the experiment, I noticed that it’s much harder to deal with caffeine.

7. What you drink greatly affects your energy level.

Caffeine increases the amount of energy, but you lose it in a couple of hours. Sugar drinks do the same, but at the cost of a sharp increase in blood sugar. Alcohol depresses you, and although it helps to become more creative, I insist that all the positive effects come to naught because you lose concentration and feel confused.

During the experiment, I was surprised at how stable my energy level became after I eliminated caffeine, sugar, and alcohol from my diet. Looking back, I see that it has increased my productivity.

What you drink greatly affects your energy level. Especially when this energy is the fuel that burns for your productivity throughout the day, you should reduce your dependence on sugary, caffeinated, alcoholic drinks in order to better manage your energy throughout the day.

6. Food also has a very strong effect on your energy level.

Like drinking, food has a great effect on your energy.During the experiment, when I excluded all caffeinated, sugary and alcoholic drinks from my diet, I was able to understand how food in itself affects my energy.

Interestingly, during the experiment I found several ways of eating food that gave me significantly more energy for my affairs.
  1. Eat smaller meals and more often. I think the most effective way to get more energy from food is to eat smaller portions and more often. Think of your energy reserves as a fire that burns all day. It is much easier to keep fire when you toss small firewood at it more often than when you throw five large logs at a time.
  2. Stay away from sugary foods that increase your blood sugar and then lead you to decay.
  3. Slow down. It takes your brain 20 minutes to realize that your body is full, so slow down! [6] When you eat too much at a time, you first increase your energy level and then run out of breath ahead of time, which affects concentration and productivity throughout the day.
  4. Constantly ask yourself if you are hungry. During the experiment, I constantly asked myself if I was hungry, and this protected me from impulsive, thoughtless overeating.

If you are serious about getting the most out of your daily routine, I think you should also use these tactics.

5. Coffee / tea also saturates the body with liquid, like water.

When I was researching for this article, this fact surprised me the most.

Caffeinated drinks, like tea or coffee, are generally considered dehydrating, but for me this myth has been debunked; it turns out, "the laxative effect (exerted by caffeine) does not interfere with saturation with water." [7] At the same time, alcohol really dehydrates, and experts recommend drinking at least an equal amount of alcohol in an amount of water. But this is not the case with caffeinated drinks, especially if you drink them regularly. [8]

4. Remember to be thankful for everything you have.

imageThere are things in your life, like electricity or the Internet, that have become so much a part of your daily routine and become a habit that you can even forget about their existence until they suddenly disappear.

Drinking water alone for a month was a doable task, but I definitely missed all the other drinks that I took for granted before the experiment. When I forced myself to remove them from my life, I regretted that I was not grateful for them when I consumed them daily.

Every night before bed, I think of three things for which I am grateful. At first glance, this may seem like a crazy hippie style, but remembering the three things you are grateful for as a daily ritual actually trains your brain to be happier, because you "support the model of thinking, according to which you see in the world primarily positive, not negative." [9]

Over the past few months, I have become convinced that this habit works wonderfully and that it helped me become more thankful for all the pleasant things in my life, including coffee and tea.

3. Water is on the list of the finest things

There are hundreds of benefits to drinking more water. In fact, I often thought about writing a great article and listing all the useful properties of water in it, and maybe I will do it.

Here are just a few of the benefits of drinking more water: [10]
  • Water increases the metabolic rate. When you first drink water in the morning, it increases your metabolism by 24% for 90 minutes!
  • Water helps to think. The brain is 75% water, and more water gives the brain more fuel to work.
  • You will eat less, because water reduces appetite.
  • Water helps the body remove toxins and get rid of decay products.
  • Water reduces the risk of many diseases , including cancer of the bladder and colon.
  • Water improves your complexion. I did not believe that I could become even more attractive until I tried to drink water for a month. During the first couple of weeks, my physique improved and became even slimmer. Water moisturizes the skin, making it “fresh, soft, radiant and smooth.” It also helps get rid of wrinkles.
  • Water saves money! I love living economically, and in the last month I spent much less money on going to coffee houses, bars and other places when I drank only water. If you drink more water, this will save you a lot of money - try and make sure.

2. To become more productive, drink caffeine-based drinks strategically, not out of habit.

image If you regularly need caffeine to be productive, you are most likely doing something wrong.

The reason is simple: your body gets used to the amount of caffeine that you usually consume. [11] This means that if you do not drink coffee regularly, and then suddenly drink it, you really feel a surge of strength. But if you drink a cup of coffee every morning, the body gets used, and this becomes the norm for him.

After some time, in order to achieve the necessary surge of strength, you already need two cups of coffee in the morning due to the addictive effect.

It is curious that I did not experience any symptoms during my experiment, I think, for one simple reason: I usually consume caffeine strategically and not constantly, while 80-90% of Americans do it daily. [12] If you want to put caffeine at the service of your productivity, you should use it strategically - when you need more concentration and energy to perform important tasks.

For example, I usually drink tea or coffee:
  • in front of the gym;
  • before an important interview or when I should give a speech;
  • when I want to concentrate on writing an article.

If you use caffeine not constantly, but strategically, it will help you reduce your dependence on stimulants and be more productive.

1. Caffeine increases concentration, but jeopardizes your creativity.

It is difficult to put all the results of research on caffeine and productivity into several paragraphs, but you can try to combine them.

imageCaffeine affects your productivity in two ways: it enhances your concentration, but can create creativity problems.
  • Caffeine enhances concentration. It helps to focus on a few main things (instead of constantly being distracted by something new); this is useful when you need to calm down and focus on one task. [thirteen]
  • Caffeine can create creativity problems. To be as creative as possible, you need to let your mind wander for a while. Since caffeine encourages you to focus on the minimum number of tasks or tasks, you have less time to think and find alternative approaches to solving the problem, and it is more difficult for you to step back from work to look at it from the side. [14]

In my opinion, productivity depends most of all on two factors - how much you can concentrate and how creative you are, because it allows you to work more efficiently and rationally. [fifteen]
  • The ability to concentrate helps you work more efficiently. The ability to manage your concentration allows you to be more rational in business, because the ability to manage your attention helps you give yourself more to work. A simple example: if it takes you 4 hours to write a report, when you focus on it for 50%, you can only spend one hour on the same report when you devote 95% of your attention to it.
  • Creativity helps you work more efficiently. I believe that the more creative you are, the smarter you work, because you can determine at any time what is best done right now. This allows you to do more work and spend less time. When you let your mind wander, it often gives you pretty smart solutions to problems.

The link between caffeine and productivity is definitely mixed. I can give you such advice: if you need to be creative in your work, try to reduce your dependence on caffeine. But if you need to be focused for greater productivity, continue to consume caffeine.

And at the same time, do not forget how good water can be for you.

Conclusions.Water is one of the most important things. My main lessons from this experiment (in decreasing order of importance): daily you drink as much as 400 calories; There are 8 triggers that encourage you to drink something; caffeine boosts your performance in sports; eating and drinking are two main things that affect your energy level; coffee / tea also saturate the body with liquid, like water; do not forget to be thankful for all the pleasant things that you have; caffeine should be drunk strategically and not constantly; caffeine increases concentration but decreases creativity. Like this!

1. Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1556
2. To be honest, I thought for a long time whether to include this figure in the article, since this is a big simplification. While 450 g of fat contains 3,500 calories, your body loses water and muscle tissue along with fat, and your metabolic rate will vary, depending on your genetics. Nevertheless, I included this figure in the article with a slight caveat - I think this is a good example to demonstrate how it can be beneficial for you to drink more water.
3. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21854160
4. Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/how-coffee-can-galvanize -your-workout /
5. Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/how-coffee-can-galvanize-your-workout/
6. Source:http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/stomach-full-stop-eating-3080.html
7. Source: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/healthy-beverages
8. Source: http: // www.webmd.com/parenting/features/healthy-beverages
9. Source: http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work
10. Source: http://alifeofproductivity.com/killer-morning-habit-drink- water-right-after-you-wake-up / ; http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4287/10-Reasons-Why-You-Should-Drink-More-Water.html ; https://www.caring4cancer.com/go/cancer/Article.aspx?ContentId=316201
11. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10202553
12. Source:http://www.livestrong.com/article/540327-how-does-the-body-adjust-to-caffeine-withdrawal/
13. Source: http://www.today.com/health/7-things- you-didnt-know-about-caffeine-1B6013380
14. Source: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/06/how-caffeine-short-circuits-creativity.html
15. Personally, I not a big fan of the terms "rational" and "effective", because I think that because of too much use, they have lost much of their importance. But I think both of these concepts are important in the topic of productivity. In my understanding, rationality is doing things right, and efficiency is doing things right.

PS from the translation editor: if you are interested in reading other articles by the author, we highly recommend studyingZen of the Early Awakenings: 10 Ways to Fix the Morning Ritual .

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