Possible side effects of not drinking enough water

A man pouring out drinking water

Key takeaways:

  • Water is essential for different body functions, and when you don't take enough, it can lead to dehydration.
  • Side effects of not drinking enough water include low energy, a reduced metabolic rate, headaches, and poor skin health.
  • Tips for sufficient hydration include drinking a glass of water every morning, drinking water after working out and drinking about 2.7 liters of water for women and 3.7 liters for men.

Water is super important for good health. It helps with everything going on in the body. Water can be obtained from foods (especially those with high water content, such as cucumbers, watermelon, and tomatoes), but that is still not sufficient to hydrate the body.

Many people don't know there are some dangerous side effects of not drinking enough water. Some also make the mistake of drinking too much alcohol, which can cause dehydration. If you take a glass of beer, it is advisable to pair it with a glass of water.

Here are some potential side effects of not drinking enough water:

1. Low energy

One of the side effects of not drinking enough water is reduced energy. When dehydrated, you might notice your energy levels plummet, as water helps keep your mind alert and your body balanced.

If you're not drinking plenty of water during the day, that afternoon slump will hit even harder, and you might feel too tired to continue with work or make it to your workout sessions.

Keep a water bottle on hand to remind you to drink throughout the day consistently.

2. Higher risk of stroke

Stroke is another side effect of not drinking enough water. Not drinking enough water and being dehydrated can raise the risk of strokes and prolong recovery time, for people who have already developed stroke.

So, to keep your heart in tip-top shape, pay attention to how much you're drinking. If your pee is yellow or you feel faint, drink some water pronto.

3. Slower metabolism

One side effect of not drinking enough water is a slower metabolism. Your metabolism also naturally slows down when you're thirsty.

Metabolism is the chemical reaction that takes place in the body that changes food into energy. Living cells only get energy when food is metabolized and converted to ATP. Thus, metabolism is needed to sustain life.

As studies have shown, 17 ounces of water (around two glasses) can increase the metabolism by 30%, which is substantial when you're looking to lose weight.

4. Headaches

Since your brain needs water, a lack of it can lead to headaches and fatigue. This is one of the most common side effects of not drinking enough water.

In a dehydrated state, the brain may temporarily shrink (or contract) due to the loss of fluid. When shrinking, the brain pulls away from the skull. This can cause the pain experienced during headaches.

So, before taking medication, drink some water and rest. That head pain might go away without you needing to take any other measures.

5. Poor skin health

In order to stay dewy and young, the skin needs to be hydrated; it needs enough water. Water is an underestimated skincare routine, as one of the side effects of not drinking enough water is poor skin health.

Not drinking enough can increase the effects of aging and make skin look drier, flakier, wrinklier, and just not as fresh as you'd like. Without sufficient water, collagen, the building block of your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments can crack, leading to fine lines and wrinkles.

That's why people who desire a soft, supple look need moisturizing and hydrating products in a skin-care regimen to complement their water intake.

6. Weight gain

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Another possible side effect of not drinking enough water is weight gain. While a little weight gain isn't really bad, if it continues over time, particularly in the belly region, it can put you at risk for various chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

This is where water comes in. Drinking water can even help you lose weight and lower water retention.

Also, you will likely consume fewer calories by filling up on the rejuvenating liquid and preventing confusion between hunger and thirst cues.

7. Over-eating

Sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger, so it's smart to drink water when you have a food craving instead of digging right into the cookie jar.

It is also a good idea to drink water before sitting down to a meal, as you may consume fewer calories and you'll have a better sense of your hunger cues and appetite, as shown in some studies.

Water can prevent you from being super-hungry as you sit down to eat, and listening to your thirst and hunger cues can give you insight into what your body really wants.

8. Moodiness

Unless you want to isolate people at the office, get your drinking regimen checked, as dehydration can make you irritable and cranky.

Two studies at the University of Connecticut studied both men and women on a series of cognitive tests, and they saw that being dehydrated led them to a bad mood, drowsiness, and even headaches.

9. Weaker workouts

Another side effect of not drinking enough water is that it can make you get weak fast during your workout. You're losing electrolytes and water when you're sweating, so it's important to drink before, during, and after working out to replenish lost stores.

As shown in a study in Physiological Reports, your workouts might suffer from a lack of water, and your body might not burn as much fat.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What does not drinking water do to your body?

Not drinking water can cause dehydration, meaning your body loses more water than you take in. The organs and cells of your body will not get enough fluid needed for proper functioning. This can cause headaches, fatigue, dry skin, and irritation.

Can you get sick from not drinking water?

Yes, you can experience feelings of sickness if you do not drink water. Your symptoms and their severity will depend on the level of dehydration and how long you have been dehydrated. You may experience fatigue, mental fog, headaches, constipation, and abdominal cramps as a result of not drinking enough water.

What are the long-term effects of not drinking water?

Long-term effects of not drinking enough water include an increased risk of aging faster, kidney dysfunction, kidney stones, and muscle and liver damage.

How often should one drink water?

There is no set standard frequency for drinking water. But, try to always drink water whenever you are thirsty, after a physical and mental activity, and when you wake up in the morning. Reliable sources like the National Health Service (NHS) recommend consuming about 6–8 glasses of water a day, or 1.9 liters, including water from food.