T Nation

Avoid Drinking Water?

I read recently that although you should drink plenty of water, it is best to avoid drinking it (and other drinks) with meals and for about half an hour either side of a meal; the reason being that water supposedly dilutes the acids in the stomach and inhibits digestion.

Is this true?

After reading the article where the expert suggested “chewing your protein shake” to create saliva and aid digestion, I have been wondering similar issues that -iron is.

I was also wondering if following your shake with some sugar free gum to induce salivation would be of benefit.


Holy shit.

Guys do a search on the articles. Berardi wrote a scathing one a while ago (one of his “Appetite for Construction” issues I think), debunking the myth surrounding the idea of water diluting stomach acid during meals. I think he refers to it as perverse pseudo-science…

As for the “chewing protein” one, yeah I think there was also an article or two on that one, where the coach recommended doing that, as most people’s protein shakes are too highly concentrated for the digestive system to handle without giving it a bit of help by recruiting more enzymes in the mouth (generated by chewing them gummys)…do a search on that one too.

That was Dr. Kinakin (sp?) who talked about chewing the shakes. I’ve been doing it. Hell, it’s free and might help with digestion a little.

Let’s use some logic for a second. The majority of people drink something with meals. Do they all have problems with digestion of food?

Truth be told, you’re body will digest most of what you eat (I can’t rememeber the figure). However, that’s not to say that you’ll absorb the same amount. However, this isn’t an issue of digestion.

Also, it’s going to take a heck of a water to neutralize stomach acids to the point of inhibiting digestion, even if this is possible. We’re talking a pH of somewhere around 2, which is heavily acidic.

Pseudo science!


That is exactly the reasoning that got me wondering. Stomach acid is highly acidic. When I read that essentially swallowing more spit will aid in digestion you cant help but think that their rational was that the stomach acid would be insufficient…much less account for up to “30% of digestion being performed by chewing”. I can understand that chewing solid food would aid in digestion, I can also understand that protein shakes are highly concentrated, but I cant understand how the amount of saliva generated by chewing would be of any comparison to the digestive abilities of stomach acid…unless my previous understanding of stomach acid was incorrect. Hence, my backup of -iron and quest for further discussion.

I tried doing searches for related articles, prior to my asking, but good luck using the search engine. I would appreciate additional references.

Tommy, thanks for the input.


I work with a Dr & a clinical nutritionist that both have worked with all kinds of cases of impaired digestion and the consensus is water especially cold water does impair digestion. I try to avoid it but if I do I sip small amounts of room temperature water

Thunder, do they all (the drinking-with-meals majority) have problems with digestion of food? I don’t know about all, but indigestion is a major, major, major problem for many in the US. Walk into any drugstore and look at all the OTC products for various digestion woes. And at least for a while, prescription heartburn meds were top sellers. I’ve seen lots of people guzzle a drink with their meals, and then chase it all down with Pepto-Bismol. Their problems may not be caused by drinking with meals, but logic isn’t going to uncover the answer here.

I don’t think any science backs up the don’t-drink-water recommendation. But I usually don’t drink anything with meals, because I feel better that way. Some people seem to have poor digestion, and anything that improves it really matters. Others have great digestion and can do whatever they want. The cliche is “iron stomach.”

So my advice is to try it both ways, and record how you feel afterwards. If you are not digesting your food well, you will know.

Andersons, this is purely speculation, but I would guess that the high rates of indigestion and heartburn in the United States has more to do with high stress levels than anything else.

I can’t eat with dry mouth.

I’ll stick with the answer that Berardi gave on this very subject in the past and not elaborate any more. It’s simply not a valid argument.

But to be clear, indigestion as it’s used in common language is NOT a problem with actual digestion. It’s an uncomfortable feeling associated with eating that is generally caused by esophageal reflux.