In our quest to lose weight rapidly and safely, patients are well served to use their inherent curiosity in finding strategies to enhance that weight loss while maintaining essential habits for their long-term health, like hydration. If you’ve visited health-conscious grocery stores in the past few years, you would have undoubtedly seen the proliferation of Alkaline or higher pH waters that claim to offer systemic benefits. Today, these waters are everywhere. But are these claims accurate, and is there any place for alkaline water in the bariatric diet?
We should immediately address that the body is pH sensitive, and drinking waters of specific alkalinity will do very little systemically and even locally to change that. For example, the stomach has a relatively acidic composition, and an alkaline drink may neutralize some acids for a moment, but the stomach will likely increase acid production to compensate. In other words, the stomach knows what it needs to do and will adjust to handle its job.
Studies have shown various benefits and risks in drinking neutral pH water (7) versus more acidic water (3). Some have shown insulin resistance benefits of natural water while increasing the risk of proliferation of potentially harmful bacteria. In the end, there is a lot that remains to be understood.¹
Is the Benefit Significant Enough to Spend the Extra Money?
Ultimately, there isn’t much to suggest that the small potential benefits make enough difference to splurge on alkaline water, which can be significantly more expensive than purified drinking or spring water. After bariatric surgery, you have stringent hydration requirements, requiring you to drink periodically throughout the day – upwards of 60, 70, or even 80 fluid ounces. Consuming this amount of alkaline water would be an incredible waste of money.
Now, if you have a favorite water that happens to be alkaline, there’s likely no harm in drinking what you like, again, ensuring that you get enough to meet your hydration quotas each day.
What Else Can You Do?
The other lifestyle changes you make are likely more important than the kind of water you drink. Consider reducing your consumption of caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is a diuretic that promotes the elimination of water from your body through urination. This is not to say you can’t have any caffeinated drinks, but you’ll want to increase your consumption of regular water After drinking tea or coffee.
Don’t forget your electrolytes. Electrolytes are the salts, sodium, potassium, and other compounds critical to replenishing your cells and keeping them healthy. We cannot live without electrolytes. While most of us get enough through our diets, if you work out a lot, you may wish to add an electrolyte drink to your hydration schedule.
The water’s temperature makes a difference, and drinking warm or hot water is a great way to increase your hydration. There are also benefits to drinking cold water, such as boosting your internal metabolic furnace to warm yourself up. Consider varying your water intake both for your health and just for fun.
You should also front-load your water consumption in the first ten hours of the day, as this is when your body is most receptive and needs hydration. Compensatory drinking later at night may do more harm than good for your sleep, so ensure you’re well-hydrated throughout the day.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to get and stay hydrated. Most importantly, an incredible amount of research over the years has shown us that even small hydration deficits can significantly affect cognitive and physical ability, which ultimately translates into poor weight loss results after your surgery. Of course, these are all tactics you can use to improve your hydration before surgery, enhancing your health baseline and reducing the risk of your procedure. Remember, bariatric surgery is not a magic bullet, and there is a lot you can do to make the process easier and safer.
- ¹Hansen, T.H., Thomassen, M.T., Madsen, M.L. et al. The effect of drinking water pH on the human gut microbiota and glucose regulation: results of a randomized controlled cross-over intervention. Sci Rep 8, 16626 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-34761-5