At some time in our lives, we’ve all probably promised to cut down on the fizzy sodas, alcohol or coffee. But can you imagine swapping your essential pick-me-up latte or favorite soda for plain old water for a whole week? Yep, you heard right, only good ol’ H2O and nothing else.
Well, in the name of research, one intrepid young journalist did just that. New York-based Ileana Paules-Bronet, who works at the website LittleThings, decided to quit her favorite liquids for a week to find out how only drinking water would affect her body. And the results may surprise you.
Water makes up around 60 percent of the human body, and we all know the benefits of drinking the stuff, too. It invigorates the muscles and helps to plump out the skin, for example. But could drinking only water for a week make a significant difference to Paules-Bronet’s life?
The young writer decided to wholeheartedly take up her self-imposed challenge. But it wouldn’t be easy. For a start, there was a lifetime of habitual imbibing behavior to battle. “If I’m given a choice of water or something else, I’ll probably choose the non-water option,” she wrote on LittleThings. “I know water is healthier, but let’s be real, it’s just not as yummy.”
So would she actually be able to complete the task? Well, first off, Paules-Bronet needed to discover how much water it is recommended to consume every day, so she could plan her daily intake. She wrote, “According to the Mayo Clinic, different people need to drink different amounts of water each day, depending on how healthy you are, what the temperature/climate is and how much you exercise.”
In fact, it is often advised that humans down six, seven or eight glasses of H2O daily – the equivalent of 48 to 64 ounces of liquid. With this in mind, Paules-Bronet purchased a 32-ounce water bottle and calculated that she needed to drink two full bottles of water per day to hit her target. Little did she know, however, that this drinking bottle would become her constant companion over the week ahead.
Still, Paules-Bronet imagined she was going to find it tough going – especially without her daily caffeine hit. And so to encourage her water drinking, she annotated her bottle with times of the day, so that she knew just how much she had to drink and when.
But her first day in her new routine didn’t get off to a good start. “On day one, I was pretty positive,” she wrote on LittleThings. “I can’t say I got off to the best start. I woke up late and… instantly wanted coffee the moment I got out of bed.”
Indeed, when Paules-Bronet finally reached her subway station, the train wasn’t running and she was late. “I realized it was already well after 11:00 a.m. and I had barely started drinking water,” she wrote. “I chugged down some… but I noticed a girl with an iced coffee across the train and was instantly jealous. I even had a caffeine headache… It was going to be a long week.”
Thankfully, despite the caffeine withdrawal, she managed to drink the full contents of her water bottle twice on the first day. Things improved on day two, though, and Paules-Bronet said that she was “surprised that [she] was actually looking forward to day three.” However, what came next proved to be a challenge.
Forced to work from home due to train delays, day three saw the young writer surrounded by other tempting beverages, like iced tea and lemonade. At least she had a bit of luck on her side: her caffeine-withdrawal headaches had subsided.
By midweek, moreover, things were on the up, and Paules-Bronet was becoming used to her routine. She explained, “By day four, drinking the 64 ounces of water didn’t feel like a challenge anymore; it actually felt pretty natural. This was the first day I could imagine drinking this much water regularly (and not just for the week).” But was she noticing any bodily changes?
Well, by day five, it seemed that whatever was happening led to soda cravings. Paules-Bronet didn’t give in, though, and continued her water-only regime. “Anytime I thought about wanting to drink something else, I sipped on my water and reminded myself that it was so much healthier to drink,” she wrote in her article.
Indeed, almost two-thirds of the way through the experiment, it seemed that her body was adjusting to her increased water intake. “I was also surprised on the night of day five that I finished my water early and actually wanted more,” she added in her piece. “Even though I was craving other drinks, I was also craving extra water.”
So, after a week, how had drinking only water affected Paules-Bronet’s body? Well, the first obvious sign came in the afternoon of the seventh day. “I swear I probably peed 15 times,” she wrote in her LittleThings article. “I was shocked that it hadn’t hit me until day seven, but I felt like literally all the water from the week was coming out of me at once.”
She went on to say that after quitting caffeine and taking up regular water drinking, she felt like she “had more natural energy throughout the week.” And, according to Dr. Steven Guest, water does help energize muscles. Indeed, the nephrologist is quoted as saying in a 2008 WebMD article, “When muscle cells don’t have adequate fluids, they don’t work as well and performance can suffer.”
Another positive result seemed to be, er, Paules-Bronet’s toilet habits. She wrote, “I’ll get a little gross here, but my bowel function was definitely more regular than it normally is.” Gross, maybe, but surely a good thing? Again, one medical professional quoted by WebMD thinks so. “Adequate fluid and fiber is the perfect combination, because the fluid pumps up the fiber and acts like a broom to keep your bowel functioning properly,” dietician Joan Koelemay said to the site in 2008.
Interestingly, though, Paules-Bronet didn’t notice losing weight, even after swapping calorie-packed coffees for zero-cal water all week. In fact, she suggested that she may have even consumed more snacks in lieu of drinking unhealthier beverages. However, she did notice one other final difference: her skin.
That’s because one of the main benefits of regular water consumption is improved skin, as dermatologist Dr. Kenneth Ellner told WebMD. “Dehydration makes your skin look more dry and wrinkled, which can be improved with proper hydration,” he explained to the website. And sure enough, there was a positive change for Paules-Bronet; her skin was feeling less oily upon getting up.
And perhaps if she would have continued her experiment, Paules-Bronet would have felt even more body benefits. She still might, as she assured her readers at the end of her piece that she was going to try to keep the H2O intake up. What’s more, she encouraged them to follow her lead, writing, “If you’re thinking about trying to drink more water, you should definitely go for it. It’s not as hard as you might think!”