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Drinking Water Only: A Month-Long Experiment in Self-Discipline

Drinking Water Only: A Month-Long Experiment in Self-Discipline

by macdaddy on July 1, 2008 · 40 comments

During May 2007, I allowed myself to drink only water and two water-based derivatives: mineral water (including Talking Rain flavored waters) and non-caffeinated tea.

This was easy at first. Water is fine for a week or two, and I don’t crave alcohol under normal circumstances. But the last few days of the project were a trial. I began to crave jazzier beverages. I wanted a Diet Pepsi. Or some fruit juice. Or, especially, a glass of wine.

Actually, I only craved wine on two occasions, both of which were social gatherings with friends. Since then, I’ve come to realize that nearly all of my alcohol consumption comes in group settings. I use it as a social lubricant.

The results of my water-only experiment were great. I felt healthier and more alert. I lost weight. As Lazy Man noted recently, drinking water is an excellent weight-loss aid. Water is non-caloric. It’s essential for proper body chemistry. It helps to encourage a feeling of “fullness”. It doesn’t contain sugar or caffeine or man-made chemicals. And when you drink water, you’re making a conscious choice not to drink something else.

Ugly bag of mostly water

I’m ready to try this experiment a second time. During the month of July, I plan to drink only water. Though my fitness has been improving steadily for the past few months, my weight loss has slowed to a crawl. That’s fine, but I’d like to jump-start it a little.

“You get a lot of calories from drinks,” Kris told me the other day, and I realized she was right. By drinking only water, I have an easy way to reduce my calories and resume my weight loss.

I’ll make a couple specific exceptions to my water-only rule, but they’re minor:

  • I have three chocolate protein shakes in the fridge that expire mid-month. My frugal nature doesn’t want to see these go to waste. I’m going to drink them. (Or maybe give them to Mac, if he wants them.)
  • On my weekend training runs, I may drink forego plain water for sugar water.

These exceptions shouldn’t affect the overall experiment. My primary goal is to purge the caffeine, alcohol, and sugar from my beverages. This is going to be a challenge, but I know I can do it. I’ve done it before!

Image by Bohman.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elisa July 1, 2008 at 8:53 am

Great post – I just recently started to do this. I allow myself water, unsweetened tea, as well as OJ and cranberry juice only from concentrate without high fructose corn syrup. I was drinking so much caffeine to keep up it was ridiculous, especially since I don’t like diet. I sleep better, because caffeine does bad things to me. I’m more awake during the day. I have yet to see a weight loss, but I’m not really checking. Good luck this month!

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2 Red July 1, 2008 at 8:58 am

In solidarity, I will only drink beer this month.

…or I could try the water thing too.

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3 Andrew July 1, 2008 at 9:50 am

“It doesnÂ’t contain sugar or caffeine or man-made chemicals.”

I’m not so sure on the last part of that statement. Tap water definitely has chemicals in it, and depending on the area not just chlorine and fluoride (and more than just chemicals if you look at it under a microscope…).

Filters are great, but they don’t catch everything and it’s kind of a grey area for which brand catches what better. (I use a PUR brand filter (pitcher style) personally, but I know it doesn’t get out everything.)

And the thing with bottled water is the most popular brands really are just filtered tap (*cough*Dasani*cough*).

Don’t get me wrong, clean water is still the best fluid to drink, period. I’ve done this type of water challenge before (and plan to again soon) and after you get used to the lack of sugar/caffeine, you feel great. Two things I noticed drinking water only: 1) I drank more often, and 2) My sense of taste got sharper. I could even taste the difference in the type of water I was drinking, tap vs. filtered. I can’t even drink tap anymore.

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4 Jamie July 1, 2008 at 10:43 am

Don’t forgo the sugar water! It’s a great pick-me-up for the run :)

I’m trying to drink more water myself….Being constantly minorly dehydrated does not work very well when adding exercise….

Good luck!

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5 J.D. July 1, 2008 at 10:49 am

Andrew wrote: Tap water definitely has chemicals in it, and depending on the area not just chlorine and fluoride.

You’re right. You’re right. I got carried away in my enthusiasm. :)

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6 Desiree July 1, 2008 at 11:28 am

I’ve never tried sugar-water before, does this work pretty well for post-work outs?

Andrew…You sure have bad experiences with tap water. Down here in Baton Rouge we have the best quality tap water in the country due to our aquifer. I always find that bottled water taste funny.

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7 greenman2001 July 1, 2008 at 1:33 pm

This post, like many others I read here, makes me wonder how exactly you’re defining the word “fit.” I’d love to see a blog post on that topic one of these days.

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8 Sheamus July 1, 2008 at 2:10 pm

I’m all for 28-30 day trials but I’m not entirely sure of the merits of drinking just water. There’s a lot of debate about the value of ‘detoxing’ the body – most modern studies seem to indicate, I believe, that it’s a waste of time as just a few days taken regularly of only consuming clean water has much the same effect as weeks and months.

As Andrew says above unless you’re planning to only drink big-brand bottled water you’re also going to be getting plenty of chemicals.

You can easily replicate the non-calorie intake by switching to diet-only drinks. You’re right in that you shouldn’t ever drink your calories (unless you’re in a long-distance race or seriously ill) but drinking only water seems a little extreme to me. Professional athletes don’t do it – I’m not sure how it benefits an amateur, to be honest. Hate to sound negative – I feel I always come over that way on here! ;D

Best of luck to you though! Of course, real men consume only water and nothing else at all for 10 days. ;)

And the thing with bottled water is the most popular brands really are just filtered tap (*cough*Dasani*cough*).

That’s simply not true – Dansani is the only one I can think of, and Coke paid accordingly.

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9 fit36.com July 1, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Not sure I could survive a month without milk. What would I put on my cereal? And no alcohol? No thanks. Oh, that’s right… You don’t have kids to drive you to drink. :)

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10 Brooke July 1, 2008 at 2:14 pm

I am curious whether you are taking any calcium supplements?

We just found out that my husband, who is on his second bout of stress fractures (3) in his leg from running and has been on crutches for the better part of two years, has ostopenia (precursor to osteoporosis). He didn’t drink much milk or make an effort to eat calcium rich foods for about 10 years, so we think that had something to do with it.

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11 Leah July 1, 2008 at 2:58 pm

interesting. I gave up drinking everything but water one year for Lent. I found the juice cravings were hardest at the beginning. years later, I still mostly drink water (soda or juice one or two times a month, and the occasional cup of iced tea or lemonade).

Sadly, I never got any sort of weight savings from giving up other drinks. I somehow replaced the calories in my diet, which makes me think the calories were necessary for me. I do feel much better drinking water than I do when I used to drink other crap.

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12 Laen July 1, 2008 at 3:12 pm

In an attempt to get myself to drink more water, I’ve been adding Crystal Light LiveActive to my water. 3 grams (12%) of dietary fiber per serving, which helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, and it tastes good, so it encourages me to drink it.

This has helped me go from about 20ounces of water during the workday to 80 ounces.

It does add 10 calories per serving (so, 40 extra calories a day), but whatever.

Do you do TheDailyPlate calorie counting?

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13 Andrew is getting fit July 1, 2008 at 5:08 pm

I like the water challenge! I cut out sodas and coffee at the beginning of the year and while I’ve managed to ditch the sodas permanently the coffee has crept back into my routine. I should give it another go.

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14 deadweight July 1, 2008 at 8:52 pm

In your honor I pledge to not drink ANY water this month.

Seriously, this seems like a difficult thing to do, which to my way of thinking is the most compelling reason to do it.

Good luck.

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15 Anca July 2, 2008 at 12:18 am

Pepsi’s Aquafina is also tap water.

Chlorine makes sure your water stays disinfected while in transit from the treatment facility to your faucet.

A great way to gain appreciation of the “purity” of American water is to drink European water, both tap and bottled. It’s filled with minerals and never quenches your thirst!

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16 Sheamus July 2, 2008 at 12:28 am

I’m sorry – what!? ;) Are you saying European bottled water – like Evian, Volvic etc – is more or less pure than its American counterpart? And how would water with more minerals be less thirst-quenching? You won’t even notice them. It’s the chemicals that will have a drying effect.

Either way I don’t think there’s any merit in the statement. Evian is Evian – it comes from the same sources near Évian-les-Bains, on the south shore of Lake Geneva, irrespective of where it is sold. I’m pretty sure it’s identical.

I’m less certain about the chemicals in the respective tap water sources, but we do drink tap water more freely in the UK so I’d imagine we’re either mad or it’s less of an issue.

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17 fit36.com July 2, 2008 at 6:31 am

Sheamus: You drink less bottled water and you drive fewer mondo-SUVs. I’d say that makes you *less* mad. The vast majority of people here don’t *need* to drink bottled water due to low quality tap water. They choose to do so, either out of convenience (= laziness), a desire to look cool, or because they’re neurotic and can’t stand the thought of drinking “regular” water (even though bottled water is pretty much the same thing).

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18 elisabeth July 2, 2008 at 6:32 am

I agave up alcohol (except for a glass of champagne on New Year’s eve and Valentine’s Day) back in 2005 because I need to take a lot of antihistimines to counteract idiopathic hives and also take a post-cancer pill, so my liver already has a lot to do. Alas, it didn’t seem to affect my weight at all.

Then, I gave up sodas (but not sparkling water); alas that hasn’t had any lasting weight effect, either.

I’m convinced you need a lot more to reset your “set point” weight.

So, I’m still drinking caffeinated tea — usually unsweetened, and never after lunch, and somehow, I can’t imagine that giving that up would have any weight/fitness benefit. I buy great tea (loose, not bagged) in different varieties, and it is wonderful, a lot like the differences between wines…

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19 Miguel Wickert July 2, 2008 at 7:45 am

Awesome! I’m a water drinker, I almost never drink soda/pop. I’m sure you will keep us posted. I’m starting a challenge of my own, 8 min abs for 30days. I’ve done it for almost five months straight before laying off for a while. All the best!

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20 mhb July 2, 2008 at 8:17 am

OK, you’re inspiring me to drink considerably more water… but giving up coffee? Not sure if I have the willpower right now. Give me time. Maybe once this running things is really a habit and I’ve done a few hundred pushups, I’ll be ready for this challenge. :-)

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21 samantha July 2, 2008 at 8:48 am

i thought i’d have to give up coffee because i like to put flavors and sugar in it. BUT i found these splenda flavor packets, which have no calories and are complete flavor and sugar in one! i just add skim milk now instead of my usual creamer, and voila! my morning coffee is only about 25 calories!

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22 Pete @ quicktofit July 3, 2008 at 9:37 am

Drinking more water in the past has helped me to lose weight, so I know that it does work. I think maybe I’ll try to increase my H2O intake this month, although I don’t know if I want to give up my morning coffee. I NEED my morning coffee.

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23 Lazy Man and Health July 3, 2008 at 3:38 pm

I don’t think I could survive all month with just water.

I was thinking about it, but other than alcohol and milk, everything I drink is non-caloric.

I thought I’d mention that caffeine has been shown to boost workouts a bit. That’s something to think about while you are going the water route.

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24 Miguel Wickert July 6, 2008 at 7:06 pm

@ Lazy man

a little discipline won’t hurt, give it try! Start small if a month is much to handle. Try it for a day or two, and simply increase your days with only water. Be sure to reward yourself. You can do it- take it one step at a time.

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25 Louche September 29, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Hey, this is a brilliant idea! I think I’m going to try something like this come October. Maybe stick to water (tea only if I get sick) and maybe occasional soy milk. The only exception might be if I’m eating cereal, but hopefully whenever I do that it’ll just be soy milk. Unfortunately, that’s not always available to me, but I’ll do the best I can.

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26 DID IT! October 6, 2008 at 10:15 am

I been drinking water for atleast 4 weeks now, the only other drink i drink is, pineapple juice or orange juice, but i drink mostly water throughout the day, do it, it will make you feel superior, i cant wait until its the 2 month i been drinking only water with a lil pinapple juice a day, i will feel like a god. oh and all i eat throughout the day is bananas, oranges, and fruits, i eat meat at dinner time, if you could do this you will feel great and oh yea get a pullup bar and do some workouts.

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27 vicky May 6, 2011 at 10:14 am

I came to this post, because I am considering to JUST CONSUME WATER for the 7 days, to detoxify my system. I drink a lot of coffee and soda specially when I’m working..(Night Shift)..

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28 bopodi June 2, 2011 at 3:32 am

i want to try drinking warer only for the next 7 days to see how much i wil lose.actually i want to cleanse my system with drinking water ONLY.how much can i loose in ths 7 days?.i am 28 young lady of 71kg and 1.6m tall said to be obesse when i checked my BMI

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29 the_doctor46 June 4, 2011 at 3:27 am

To be honest… I drank just water for basically my whole life. I extremely rarely consume soda (and by this I mean that I have soda once like once every 3 or more months), almost no alcohol at all (now it’s been 5 months that I haven’t drank any alcohol). Sometimes I prepare myself a coffee.

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30 Water man...Super man March 22, 2012 at 6:16 am

@the_doctor46

Drinking ONLY water for your whole life while functioning normally, and eating absolutely nothing during it sounds very unrealistic/unbelievable…

Please explain…

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31 Hector November 17, 2011 at 10:02 am

I have to say this sounds really good, after having a stomach bypass in Oct of 2010 part of that life changing experience came the fitness as well as what I eat or drink. It was very hard in the beginning to go cold turkey on all the high sugary drinks I used to consume, but a year later and 145lb lighter I have to say that I really didn’t sacrifice much nor I even miss the high sugary and calorie drinks, now on my daily consumption I only drink coffee, water and 2% milk, there is no substitution…

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32 Vicente November 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I’ve started this but I’ve been drinking water with the lemonade drink mix in it. Does that count ?

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33 Spence November 23, 2011 at 7:02 pm

i myself from the time i stopped feeding as an infant, have only drank water. It is quite amazing to see comments bragging about drinking water for 4 weeks and not stopping. ive been doing it for years apon years It is not an oath it is more of a favorable opinion for drink. Everything else seems undelightful and gross. Only now have i relized the benifits this choice i made: increased flexibility, inability to gain much weight etc. I LOVE IT

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34 Water man...Super man March 22, 2012 at 6:24 am

Started water ONLY drinking today..

While doing so..

I’m considering drinking…

-Milk

Maybe if needed the following:-

- Juice

-Protein drinks

-Charcoal Meat

-Fruits

Best of luck for all..

Thanks for the article.

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35 Erik201 June 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Sounds interesting. Although if I do this and I might, I would just make it only healthy drinks for a month. Not just water. Like maybe V8 juice from time to time or milk. Basically anything that gives you vitamins and minerals as well as just plain water. And of course I wouldn’t do something with caffeine even if it had vitamins and minerals. It would have to be a pure(natural) or mostly pure drink. But yes, if you are trying to lose weight that sounds like a great idea. I also recommend taking cold showers. Cold showers are great for the skin and wake you up instantly with plenty of health benefits.

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36 Coty Skaj March 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

I used to drink Coke all-day everyday with no water at all. Than I also had severe anxiety attacks at night. Sometimes they would get so bad I couldn’t stop my body from shaking. 1 Month of nothing but water, occasional glass of OJ “Not from Concentrate”, an vitamin water zero “without caffeine”, an the severe anxiety attacks have diminished an I feel great. Given that I do still have anxiety but taking caffeine out of my diet has greatly improved how well I can handle my anxiety.

Next important step to longevity is to stop smoking cigarettes. Been a smoker for only 4 1/2 years an I’m now 24 years old. So it shouldn’t be too hard.

Drinking water is definitely a given if you are wanting to feel healthier an get in shape. An as for bottled water or all these chemicals you speak of. If you were to deplete the water completely of these your immune system would break down overtime an you’d be worse off.

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