Sohail Shaikh before (R) and after (L) his water therapy diet. Image Credit: Supplied/Francois Nel, Gulf News

Sharjah: Increasing water intake from five glasses a day to up to 10 litres proved to be the weight loss formula for Pakistani resident Sohail Shaikh, 42. From 122 kilos, he came down to 92 kilos – his target weight.

The Sharjah resident, 1.8m (5ft 11ins) tall, lost 30 kilogrammes over a course of a year with minimum diet and exercise alteration.

Shaikh, a professional in the aviation industry and father of two children, told Gulf News that he took the decision to increase his water intake after he learnt about water therapy.

According to alternative medicine reasoning, water therapy requires one to increase daily water intake to seven litres per day.

The understanding — shared by medical science — is that the increased water intake flushes out toxins from the body, preventing water retention, and aiding kidney and liver functions, which help eliminate waste and break down fat.

The increased water intake also results in a feeling a fullness, leading to less food consumption, say alternative medicine proponents.

Shaikh said, “During a trip to Pakistan, I heard about water therapy. I decided to try it. I was frustrated with my weight. In Dubai, a routine free medical screening at a mall showed dangerous levels of obesity.”

He started to drink up to 10 litres a day. He began to walk for half an hour per day and made minimum changes in his diet, avoiding deep fried food and high sugar items like chocolates and biscuits. At home, typical Pakistani food of meat and vegetable curries with chappati and rice continued, he said.

Half way through his weight loss success, he consulted a doctor out of concern.

“I was losing weight consistently and wanted to know if there were any health issues,” said Shaikh.

The doctor gave him a clean bill of health, saying that even his cholesterol level was under control.

Curious and still doubtful whether it was the just water, Shaikh went back to drinking four to five glasses of water per day for about two weeks.

“I gained four kilos,” he said.

Convinced, he stuck to his water intake of 10 litres till he reached his target weight.

Commenting on Shaikh’s case, Dr Wafa Ayesh, Director of Clinical Nutrition at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) endorsed increased water intake with the caveat — balanced diet and exercise should go hand in hand.

She said that to calculate ideal fluid intake, researchers suggest the formula - body weight in kilograms multiplied by 35.

“So if Shaikh is 92, he should multiply 92 by 35. The sum is 3,220. The first two digits should be read at 3.2 litres. At 122, he should have been drinking a minimum of 4.2 litres,” said Dr Wafa.

She explained that water is the healthiest choice for hydration as it is calorie free and doesn’t contain any sugar.

From the viewpoint of water as an aid to weight loss, she said it helps prevent dehydration.

“Dehydration can lead to fatigue and increase fat storage due to the build up of toxins in the kidney [organ that removes waste products] and liver [organ that burns fat]. When dehydrated the body begins to store fat instead of metabolising it,” she said.

Furthermore, drinking water creates a feeling of fullness, preventing the person from consuming other food, potentially with high calories, leading to less food consumption, she said.