Can Dehydration Cause Belly Fat?

mid section view of a young woman holding a glass of water
A woman stays hydrated post-workout with a glass of water. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Dehydration occurs when the amount of water leaving the body is greater than the amount taken in and is one of the main causes of weight gain. Dehydration affects the ability of your body to burn fat, encourages excessive calorie consumption and slows down your metabolism. This leads to excess fat being stored in your body, including around your stomach.

Importance of Water

Almost two-thirds of the human body is made up of water, and water acts as a natural appetite suppressant. It also helps to regulate your metabolism. In a study in "The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism" from 2003, metabolic rate increases by 30 percent after drinking 2 cups of water. When you become dehydrated, your metabolism slows down, affecting how your body burns fat. Your body mistakes thirst for hunger, which leads to increased calorie consumption. This can lead to stubborn fat gathering around your stomach, which is difficult to lose.

Kidney and Liver Function

When your body is deprived of water, the ability of the kidneys to purify blood is affected. Stress on the kidneys causes the liver to become stressed, which stops the liver from metabolizing fat as quickly and efficiently as it should. As a result, your metabolism slows down to conserve water, which leads to weight gain and can contribute to belly fat.

Exercise and Perspiration

Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to lose weight, but if you don't rehydrate your body after exercising, this can have a detrimental effect. Exercise causes the body to lose water through sweat, and it's important to replace the water lost to avoid dehydration. According to a study published in 1995 in the "European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology," replacing fluid after exercising can be achieved by drinking lots of water together with a meal that provides a significant amount of electrolytes. Drinking water during exercise helps to rehydrate your body and give you more energy, keeping your metabolism working effectively and burning fat at an optimum level.

Energy Levels and Hormones

Dehydration causes energy levels to drop and leads to increased tiredness, making it difficult to be active. It also depletes testosterone levels, which causes an increase in belly fat. Insulin production increases during dehydration, leading to fat being stored in the body. Drinking a lot of water counteracts these effects.

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