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Frequently Asked Questions

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Because of the restricted calorie intake of some of the Cambridge programmes, we have established a Medical Protocol designed to give Consultants guidelines on the most suitable programs for our Members. This Protocol takes any medical condition and certain medications, into account, and allow for the flexibility of using higher calorie programs.

BUT, and this is important! You will NOT be able to start on ANY of the programmes if ANY of the following applies to you.

  • Your BMI (Body Mass Index) is below 20
  • You are 14 years old or younger. We have a separate protocol for adolescents between 14 and under 18
  • You have had a heart attack or stroke within the past three months
  • You are prescribed a medication known as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor
  • You take anti-obesity medication and intend to continue using it
  • You are a substance misuser or you are dependent on alcohol
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have given birth within the last three months.
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Children under 14 CANNOT use any of the Cambridge Weight Plan programs. Teenagers between 14 and 18 should be encouraged to eat healthily and increase levels of physical activity. If this is unsuccessful, then a Cambridge Weight Plan Step with food (Step 3: 1000kcal/day, Step 4: 1200kcal/day or Step 5: 1500 kcal/day) can be followed.

The recommendations for these Steps are very specific, carefully structured and easy to follow. The support of the child’s parent or guardian is ESSENTIAL and they would need to accompany the adolescent to the weekly meetings with their Consultant.

The support of the GP is essential for all programmes. Step 2: 810 kcal/day may ONLY be started with GP approval. This would be the lowest Cambridge Weight Plan Step 14 – 18-year-olds would be able to go on.

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Although the risk of medical conditions increases as a person gets older, we have no upper age limit that would stop someone using our programs. You age may dictate which of our Steps you should start on though. We would advise all customers to consult their GP before starting any weight loss programme.

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The research undertaken to develop Cambridge Weight Plan showed that protein and carbohydrates, provided by the diet were sufficient to protect lean body tissue losses.

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You may feel some hunger during the first two days but it usually disappears completely on Day 3. This is because your body has adjusted to its new balance of just over 600kcal per day. If you cheat and consume extra calories, you’ll become very hungry indeed. Eating food only stimulates your hunger more. So, try and stick to the plan.

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Chewing gum stimulates the release of gastric juices, which in turn will make you feel hungry. Try to avoid chewing gum altogether. But, if you really need to, then only chew for two or three minutes.

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Yes. The Cambridge Weight Plan products provide all the necessary nutrients for one day to keep your body well nourished, so, it’s very important to take the full amount.

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It’s very important to stay hydrated anyway but very important to keep hydrated while using the Cambridge Weight Plan. We recommend drinking at least 2.25 litres of fluid per day, preferably water. This helps to maintain blood volume and to prevent dehydration. Don’t drink it all at once. Spread out your intake throughout the day.

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A good rule of thumb for good health is to drink 2-3 litres of fluid a day whether trying to lose weight or not. Fluid, especially water, enables the body to get rid of the waste products and helps all your organs to function correctly. If the Cambridge Weight Plan is used as the sole source of nutrition, 2-3 litres is the minimum you need for good health to remove the waste products associated with the breakdown of fats that happens with weight loss.

On the Cambridge Weight Plan’s Step 1, it’s necessary to compensate for the fluid that would otherwise have been taken in through food. It’s important to keep the body’s fluid levels topped up to prevent the unpleasant symptoms of dehydration – headache, dizziness, fatigue, irritability and constipation.

The Cambridge Weight Plan offers balanced nutrition, but in a very concentrated form. So, if you are using Ready to Drink shakes or bars, we recommend that you drink 250ml of water with EACH product.

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Not on the Step 1 Plan. You can whiten your tea and coffee using small amounts of our delicious vanilla flavour sachets. Herbal tea, fruit tea, regular tea and coffee can add variety as can the Summer Berry and Sunshine Orange water flavourings.

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Not if you want to lose weight. Alcohol is very high in calories (7kcal/gram) and has no other significant nutritional value. Besides, alcohol is not medically recommended while following a reduced calorie diet.

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Consumption of large quantities of coffee or cola is not recommended. If you feel you must drink them, the decaffeinated forms are preferred. Caffeine acts as a stimulant to the body systems and sometimes provides an irritant effect. Herbal and fruit teas offer a pleasant alternative.

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The big plus about the Cambridge Weight Plan is, unlike with other weight loss programmes, you do not need to take extra supplements. Each item offers a third of the recommended daily allowance of all vitamins, minerals and trace elements, so three a day gives you all you need.

When people go on food-based diets they worry that reduced food means reduced nutrients putting their health at risk. Especially as it’s impossible to achieve complete nutritional support from conventional food if you’re eating less than 1000 kcal a day.

Cambridge Weight Plan has solved that problem. Our programs have up to 1500 kcal per day.  This means the weight plan diet becomes a good nutritional foundation using conventional food. Cambridge Weight Plan members can have confidence that they will lose weight safely and not put their health at risk.

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The Cambridge Weight Plan encourages all the well-known principles of healthy eating and a physically active lifestyle. Being physically active forms an important part of your weight loss journey, and is also key to your long-term weight management.

How much exercise you undertake depends on a number of factors:

  • What Step you are following
  • Any medical conditions you have or medications you take
  • Your current capability for exercise, age, lifestyle and your current level of activity.

 

We recommended that other than gentle walking, no physical activity be undertaken in the first two weeks of Step 1. This will allow your body to adjust to being on the Step you are following. After this period, gentle to moderate intensity exercise is encouraged. If you want to do rigorous exercise at the gym or you are in training for a sports event, Step 3 or more would be more suitable.

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Yes. Preparation will prevent “The Last Supper Syndrome”, i.e. a binge the day before starting, which increases glycogen stores and increasing feelings of tiredness and hunger. Begin preparing a week before your start date. Gradually reduce your food intake, particularly carbohydrates. This will prevent carbohydrate withdrawal headaches. Increasing water intake to 1.7 litres per day is also a good step to take.

If you have suffered from constipation in the past, then using a natural bulking agent, e.g. Cambridge Fibre, at a level appropriate to your needs may prevent constipation. Constipation can be a side effect of Step 1 due to the lack of bulk, although a higher Step is often recommended if you have a history of constipation. Check with your GP if necessary.

We recommend that you prepare for a week on the next Step up from that selected for weight loss. For example, if you are following the Step 2 plan for weight loss, prepare by using Step 3, then drop down for the weight loss phase.

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At the beginning of your weight loss journey. It’s vital you understand the importance of long-term weight management no matter what calorific level you are on with the Cambridge Weight Plan. It should be a significant component of your weight loss journey and is a necessary part of having real health, a real body and a real life.

Successful long-term weight management is only achieved by making long-term and permanent changes to your lifestyle and diet. Your Consultant will help you consider and implement these changes right at the start to prepare you for when you reach your target weight. The Cambridge Weight Plan is not a “quick fix”. It’s the road you need to travel on to get and keep real healthy, achieve that real body and life that real life.

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If you reach your desired weight and then go back to the bad eating habits that put the weight on in the first place, guess what? Everything you lost, you’ll put back on again.  The Cambridge Weight Plan promotes effective weight loss and it also provides a sound nutritional base for those who are at their desired weight and want to maintain it by following the stabilisation programme.

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Ramadan occurs in the ninth month of the Muslim year. During daylight hours, rigid fasting is observed, which means that Cambridge Weight Plan and water will need to be consumed before sunrise and after sundown.

During the time available, intake should be spread out as evenly as possible and might necessitate rising a bit earlier.

It may be permissible to delay the fast for health reasons, or alternatively commence the Step 1 plan after Eid ul-Fitr.

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Step 1 should NOT be followed for one week before giving blood and for one week after. During this time it would be wise to raise move up to Step 4.

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Yes. Depending on any other health issues you may have and your current BMI, you can follow any Step, even if you have high blood pressure. The Cambridge Weight Plan is low in sodium which results in a natural water loss in the early stages, especially if it’s the sole source of nutrition. This, along with your weight loss, can reduce blood pressure in some cases.

Many people with high blood pressure experience a drop in blood pressure after losing weight. Sometimes a decrease in medication can be required. Good news all round.

So, regular monitoring is required while on you’re the Plan. Hypertension medication and diuretics prescribed for hypertension will need to be monitored and adjusted while you’re losing weight.

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Yes, you would be able to follow the Cambridge Weight Plan. However, you need to have your Warfarin dose monitored regularly throughout your weight loss to ensure your thyroid function remains stable. Your Consultant would be able to advise you further.

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Yes. Studies have shown that using the Cambridge Weight Plan products as the sole source of nutrition may reduce levels of blood cholesterol by as much as 25% and blood fats (triglycerides) by 40% or more – the reduction seems to be greatest in those with initially high levels.

When members returned to a normal diet the levels rose again but still stayed lower than before. There is also some evidence that following a weight loss, on-going use of the Plan as part of a healthy diet, i.e. with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, lean meat, oily fish (e.g. salmon, herring, mackerel, etc.) and unsaturated fats may help control cholesterol levels.
If you take medication for your cholesterol, you will need to be monitored by your doctor, and as you lose weight this medication may need to be adjusted.

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Bulimia can occur as a result of various underlying factors such as stress, anxiety and depression. If you are currently suffering from this condition you won’t be able to start the Cambridge Weight Plan.

If you have a history of bulimia, your Consultant would need to contact the Cambridge Weight Plan’s medical team for further advice. Our team looks at each case individually. Some members with a history of Bulimia may then be able to start on one of our higher ‘with food’ Programs.

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We have a range of gluten-free products suitable for individuals with coeliac disease. Click here to view the Allergies, Intolerances and Choices chart or contact your Cambridge Weight Plan Consultant for further information.

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Although the Cambridge Weight Plan contains all the nutrients required for normal health, when you are fighting an infection you may fight back more effectively on a higher calorie intake. While you are recovering, you should raise your calorie intake to a higher level. Remember that sugar free cough and cold remedies are available.

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Most members would be able to follow the Cambridge Weight Plan if they are suffering from depression. It may be that a higher Step would be more suitable for you but your Consultant would be able to advise you on this.

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Customers who have Type 1 and 2 diabetes can follow the Cambridge Weight Plan with the support of their doctor and/or specialist nurse. We would want you to have a slightly slower reduction in calories to ensure that blood glucose levels remain as stable as possible. Your Consultant will be able to advise on a suitable Step for you to follow.

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You can start any Cambridge Weight Plan Step. Your Consultant will send a letter to your GP advising them that you have chosen to lose weight with the Cambridge Weight Plan and during your weight loss you will need to have regular appointments with your GP/Diabetic Specialist Nurse.

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It may be possible for you to follow Cambridge Weight Plan if you have been stable with no seizures or medication adjustments for at least six months. A Consultant would be able to advise on a suitable Step for you to follow.

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Gout sufferers generally have raised blood levels of uric acid (hyperuricaemia), which can cause crystals of sodium urate to be deposited in the joints – an extremely painful condition.

Using the Cambridge Weight Plan as a sole source of nutrition may also raise uric acid levels. Anyone with a history of gout should be warned of this possibility. You will be able to discuss this with your Cambridge Weight Plan Consultant who will be able to advise you further.

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If you have had a heart attack or stroke within the past three months, you will NOT be able to use a Cambridge Weight Plan.

Depending on your recovery, you may be able to follow a Cambridge Weight Plan Step after three months. Your Consultant will be able to advise you further.

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If you take medication for heartburn or gastric acid and want to do Step 1, it may be helpful to take your Cambridge Weight Plan products in six or eight half portions per day instead of the three or four full ones. However, you would be able to follow any Step.

It may be helpful to discuss with your GP that an increase in medication for these conditions may be advisable when following a weight loss plan.

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Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose (milk sugar) and is caused by a deficiency of lactase, an enzyme released by the small intestine that allows milk sugar to be absorbed into the bloodstream. We have a range of lactose-free products available for anyone that is lactose intolerant.

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Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease affecting the weight-bearing joints. Weight loss is regarded as a very important component in the treatment of osteoarthritis.

A lighter body puts less strain on the joints and some patients find they may need less of their anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate the symptoms.

Danish researchers from the Parker Institute at Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen reported in June 2010 that a Cambridge Weight Plan formula diet weight loss programme was very effective in reducing treatment in overweight patients with knee osteoarthritis. In the research group this weight loss and symptom improvement has been maintained for one year.

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The Cambridge Weight Plan Peanut Crunch bar DOES contain peanuts. All the other products in the Cambridge Weight Plan range are NOT made in a nut-free environment.  They may contain nuts due to the possibility of cross contamination. The ONLY exceptions to this are the Cambridge Weight Plan Ready to Drink shakes.

Please see the Allergies/Intolerances/Choices section for further information.

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Any woman who is pregnant, breastfeeding or who has given birth in the last three months CANNOT use the Cambridge Weight Plan. Pregnant and lactating women require increased levels of protein and energy, and are advised to follow a diet rich in lean protein, whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables.

When you’re pregnant, you have to be careful not to exceed your intake of some micro-nutrients. Current guidelines advise against taking extra vitamin A, which IS present in all of our products.

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Cambridge Weight Plan is suitable for anyone with thyroid function complaints. Speak to your Consultant who will be able to advise you further.

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The weight and amount of lean (muscle) tissue in your body determines your metabolic rate. The human body evolved to be super-efficient in conserving energy. When your dietary energy intake goes down, your body adapts by reducing heat and energy loss. As a result, your metabolic rate drops. After you’ve lost weight loss and your body no longer needs its old high metabolic rate, your body should return to a metabolic level that’s appropriate for your new weight and lean tissue.

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Obesity is now much better understood than it was 20 years ago. At that time, fat tissue (adipose) was believed to be simply a store of energy and an insulation layer. Now, we know that adipose tissue is a very complex organ which produces signals (hormones) that can influence health and disease in parts of the body.

Most importantly, we now know that some of those signalling chemicals increase inflammation in other tissues, especially in blood vessels. Adipose tissue can also have a direct effect on organs located right next to the fat. For example, fat around the heart may directly affect the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in the coronary arteries.
Genetic factors interact with environmental factors (diet, exercise, other aspects of lifestyle such as stress and sleep) to cause either slimness, or obesity, and obesity-induced problems such as diabetes. So, not all overweight and obese people develop diabetes as early in life as might be expected.

Having said that, obesity IS linked to:

  • Diabetes
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease osteoarthritis
  • Heightened risk of accidents
  • Increased risk of some cancers, and increased risks of problems around the time of surgery
  • Sleep problems

 

Methods for helping people who are already overweight and obese are being developed by scientists across the world. Formula-food based, very low-calorie and low-calorie diets are one of the several options people can choose in order to lose weight and try to maintain their weight afterwards.

The Cambridge Weight Plan is at the forefront of research and development in obesity management and prevention, commissioning research from centres of excellence in several countries and working as a stakeholder with government agencies in the UK.

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Bad breath can occur and is often made worse by not drinking enough fluid, especially water. Use a mouthwash, carry a mouth spray with you or drink some water. Your breath will soon be fresh again.

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Large meals cause the body to generate a lot of body heat, while smaller meals produce less heat. Everyone differs widely in their body heat or thermogenic response. Your hands and feet may feel particularly cold – this is a normal response. Your body is trying to conserve heat and energy due to your reduced calorie intake.

Other factors that influence body heat production include the slight reduction in metabolic rate, which always happens during weight loss and, of course, the loss of insulating fat! Those who are sensitive to the cold need to move around more – getting more exercise is SO good for you! Wrap up warmly – many light layers are more effective than a single heavy layer.

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Less frequent bowel movements may occur because the Cambridge Weight Plan products are not as bulky as normal food. To combat this, keep well hydrated and drink at least 2.25 litres (of water preferably) a day, in addition to the water used to mix your products. If you have previously suffered with constipation, let your Consultant know before you start. Adding Cambridge Fibre to your shakes from Day one may help you avoid constipation.

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Leg Cramps may be experienced in the initial stages of Step 1. They are caused by the increased movement of fluid in the body’s tissues as water shifts and your sodium levels change. If your symptoms persist, please consult your GP or pharmacist. Your Consultant will be able to advise you.

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This is a minor problem that will last for only a short time. It’s caused by the change in your diet. Some people aren’t used to the mineral content in the Cambridge Weight Plan products. It’s a good idea to drink an extra glass of water at the same time as having a Cambridge Weight Plan product. This will help dilute the effect of the minerals in the body.

It may be advisable to consume the Cambridge Weight Plan in the form of half portions (6/8 half portions per day) initially to dilute the mineral intake.

Another possible cause of continued diarrhoea is lactose intolerance. Some people cannot digest the lactose in milk products and diarrhoea can occur. If this is the case, we have a range of lactose-free products that could be used instead.

If you have diarrhoea, which has lasted longer than the first few days of the Plan, you should seek medical advice from your GP.

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Hair loss as a generalised thinning of the hair across the head can be associated with weight loss. The thinning can occur during and sometimes after the weight loss phase. Weight loss is not the only reason for hair thinning and we would therefore recommend you seek medical advice from your GP if you are concerned.

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Occasionally, during the initial few days, a person may experience carbohydrate or caffeine withdrawal and may develop a headache.

This is a temporary side effect and should be tolerated when possible. You may find a simple painkiller such as paracetamol may help. Insufficient fluid intake could also cause mild dehydration and an ensuing headache. Ensure that you are drinking the recommended amount of water.

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Hormone levels fluctuate when there are changes in weight – particularly in women. Rapid weight loss may temporarily affect the menstrual cycle. Ovulation, however, is probably not interrupted.

In most cases the menstrual cycle remains unchanged, but for some women breakthrough bleeding or heavier periods may occur. Others may find that their periods stop for a while. Fertility may also be affected and unexpected pregnancies have been known to occur, therefore if you have been trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant, you need to be aware that during and after weight loss, fertility may increase.

The metabolism of hormonal contraceptives may be affected during effective weight loss and so we recommend additional methods of contraception if you do not wish to fall pregnant while on a programme.

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Some people are more sensitive to the high concentration of minerals and vitamins in the products. Often a full glass of water before or following consumption of a product may eliminate nausea by diluting the effects of the minerals.

Another option would be to have your Cambridge Weight Plan sachets as 6/8 half portions, which would split the mineral content you have each time.

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Skin rashes can be caused by any number of things. However, just occasionally, there may be something in the formula of the Cambridge Weight Plan products to which someone has an allergic reaction.

If a rash occurs while using the Cambridge Weight Plan you should stop the Plan straight away. If the rash fails to settle or progresses, then seek medical advice. When the rash has subsided, if you wish to restart speak to your Cambridge Weight Plan Consultant first and get advice on how to do this.

Please refer to the Allergies/Intolerances/Choices Chart on the website. Food allergies should be properly investigated and allergen-free diets should be based on sound scientific tests.

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After a large amount of weight loss your skin may sag. It may recover, but this will depend on your age, general health and skin elasticity.

Ageing changes the nature of collagen – the main support structure in the skin – making it less supple with time. Younger, rather than older skin, may therefore firm up more quickly following weight loss. After weight loss, there may sometimes be a need for plastic surgery to remove redundant skin folds.

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It is not uncommon for a person to require less sleep when they lose weight. There are many cases where people thought they required nine or 10 hours of sleep per night, only to find when they lost weight their sleep requirement dropped considerably. Having an extra hour or two awake each day may be a pleasant side effect of Cambridge Weight Plan.

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It is normal to experience thirst on occasions when you’re dieting. The solution is simple; drink more water. We recommend that users of any Cambridge Weight Plan programme drink 2.25 litres of water each day. There is probably very little benefit to be gained from consuming more than double our recommendation of water intake.