Amelia Clute / Sun Staff Writer

February 17, 2021

I Drank a Gallon of Water Every Day for a Week

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One fine morning, at the elite hour of 3 a.m., I’m lying in bed browsing through YouTube — mainly skin care videos that I know I’ll never follow but watch anyway — when a certain video catches my eye: “I drank a GALLON of water EVERY DAY for a WEEK | weight loss + before & after results.” The thumbnail boldly claims that the creator lost 6 whole pounds just from drinking a gallon of water every day. My first thought was, “Girl, if I knew it was that easy I would have hopped on the water train ages ago.” 

On campus I always carry my handy dandy Camelbak water bottle and drink around one to two liters a day. However, being at home is a whole other story. Especially during breaks, my middle name is lazy — I drink one glass of water per meal, which is only around two glasses for me since I wake up at noon — or, “More like 2 p.m.,” according to my mom. So, I thought, why not try what the YouTuber did and see what happens? 

Day one: I started by recording how my face looked, how dry my skin felt and what my weight was. When I wake up in the mornings, my skin usually feels super tight, my nose is often flaky and my lips are almost always chapped. This week, my acne was worse than it normally is as I had just tried out a new “organic” moisturizer which caused me to break out on my cheeks and forehead. 

There are about 3.7 liters in a gallon, which rounds out to around four Camelbaks worth of water. To me, that sounds like a lot of water, and if you’re anything like me (a lowkey hypochondriac), the first thought that might pop into your head is: What about overhydration? Not to worry, a healthy kidney can flush around 0.8 to 1 liter of water per hour, so you’ll be alright as long as you pace yourself.  

Getting through the first two bottles was pretty easy, but halfway through the third, I found myself so bloated that my stomach felt like a water balloon. My appetite was almost non-existent, even though the only thing I had eaten the whole day was half a bagel. After the fourth bottle, my stomach looked like the Japanese souffle pancakes that jiggle when you tap them. The real issue, however, was how many times I had to use the bathroom — throughout the day, I went around six times and I woke up twice to go in the night. Rest in peace, my dear bladder. 

When I woke up the following morning, the first thing I noticed was that my face didn’t feel as dry as it usually does. I wasn’t peeling anywhere and even my lips weren’t chapped. Looking in the mirror, I also noticed that my cheeks looked just a smidge brighter. My water weight had dissipated overnight, but other than that I didn’t notice any changes in my weight. My body was slightly more used to drinking the four bottles of water, and with the correct pacing, I was able to make it through the fourth without any problems or excessive bathroom trips.

Honestly, once it hit day three, drinking a gallon was pretty easy. In fact, I actually found myself feeling thirsty some nights. I would say the greatest improvement over the course of the following four days was the reduction in dryness of my skin, especially my facial skin. Not only was I no longer flaking, my skin had an almost youth-like glow to it. The red discoloration around my acne also seemed to have lessened, and my acne scars were starting to slightly blend in more. As for my weight, I still felt no difference. I sometimes felt bloated throughout the day, but it was much better than the first two days after I started pacing my intake better. 

I set out on this whole process for weight loss, the main advertisement (clickbait or not) of these YouTube challenges. By day seven, however, I actually gained three pounds. It may have been due to the left-over cheesecake from my birthday though, so I’m not entirely discrediting the fact that drinking lots of water helps you lose weight. I will definitely continue to drink a gallon of water a day mainly because of the improvement I noticed with my dry skin. For the first time, my face felt hydrated in the mornings. A few YouTubers I watched even experienced noticeable improvements in their acne;; however, that was not the case for me. Even though the discoloration lessened a bit, the changes in my acne weren’t truly noticeable unless you were looking for them. 

Like with most things, seeing improvements from drinking water takes time. Drinking water as a daily habit generally has many benefits, even beyond the supposed weight loss, including improvement of brain function and mood. On the converse, fluid loss generally can impair mood and concentration and increase anxiety and fatigue. Water has also been shown to increase energy by boosting metabolism — in fact, drinking 500 mL of water increases metabolism by 30 percent and drinking two liters of water a day can increase energy expenditure by 400KJ. Upon doing some more investigation, another study suggested that drinking water is indeed also associated with weight loss, stating that water can “promote weight loss by lowering total energy intake and/or altering metabolism” in overweight women who were dieting.

Really what the actual health experts — and I — are trying to say here is: drink more water.

Isha Vaish is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at ivaish@cornellsun.com