Water can get a bad rap. People call it boring and plain or may not want to drink it because the action of constantly refilling your glass or water bottle is too much in a busy day, not to mention how much more frequent trips to the bathroom they’ll have to take. And how much are you supposed to drink? 8 glasses a day? More? Less?
Such a simple thing can get really complicated and put off, which is a shame (not to mention unhealthy) because your body relies so much on water for survival.
What Water Does For Your Body
Your body is made up of about 60% water, but it doesn’t just hang out and stay there. Water is a lot like the gas we put in our cars, it’s being used to keep things functioning and needs to be replenished to keep things going.
The water inside you is going to work, keeping joints lubricated, regulating your body temperature, helping the liver and kidneys detox, breaking down minerals your body needs, carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells, flushing out waste…just to name a few!
Your body uses up about 2-3 quarts of water a day from those functions and more. When you’re not replacing the water you’re using, you get dehydrated.
Am I Dehydrated?
Dehydration is on a wide spectrum. It can range from a small, feeling thirsty dehydration to a serious, get to the hospital kind of dehydration. The more you don’t hydrate, the worse (and more serious) it can get. On the mild side of the spectrum, signs of dehydration can include:
- Dry mouth
- Loss of energy
- Dry Skin
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
You can also confuse thirst for hunger, meaning you could be eating more than you need when all your body wants is water.
The more extreme and dangerous side of the dehydration spectrum can look like extreme thirst, darker colored urine, increased confusion or irritability, very dry skin, and even fever or rapid breathing or heartbeat.
So How Do I Stay Hydrated?
As you can see with the symptoms above, dehydration can have some potentially very serious consequences. Thankfully, you can combat this with water and water-rich foods. Foods are made up of water as well, and some have more than others. Cucumbers, watermelons, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, citrus and berries all are made up of over 90% water. Eating those foods along with drinking lots of water can keep you hydrated and feeling energized throughout the day.
How Much Water Do I Need to Drink?
Now that you know just how important water is, you’re probably wondering how much you need to drink. A quick rule of thumb to see if you’re drinking enough water is the lemonade test. The next time you go to the bathroom look at the color of your urine. It’s not the most glamorous thing to do, but if your urine is clear to a light yellow (like real lemonade, not the intensely artificially colored kind), you’re hydrated. If it’s darker than light yellow, you need more water immediately.
For those who want a number to shoot for, the general rule is to drink half of your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll need 75 ounces (a little over 9 cups or 2 quarts) of water a day. That number can sound a little daunting but think about the glasses or water bottles you usually drink from. If you drink from a 10-ounce glass, you only need 7 ½ of those glasses over the entire day. If you drink from a 20-ounce water bottle, you only need a little under 4 refills and you’re good.
If you’re more active, workout, are under-the-weather or live in a super hot climate and sweat a lot, then you’re losing more water than most, which means you’ll need to hydrate a bit more. You can try adding 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups to the amount above. If you’re doing a super intense workout or endurance training, you’ll also want to add some electrolytes and sodium to your water as well (think: electrolyte water or powders or even healthier sports drinks – beware of some of the artificial flavoring hidden in them).
Tips for Drinking More Water
Yes, even with all of the knowledge of how important water is and the side effects of dehydration, that doesn’t mean you’re going to magically drink the right amount of water and it’ll be fine. Adding in a habit takes some adjustment, so here are a few tips to help you up your water intake.
- Stick to One Glass Size: Staying with one glass size can help you keep track of how much water you’re drinking. If you know you need 3-4 glasses of this one size glass, you can more easily count back to how many you’ve had in one day.
- Make it Visual: Just like you write goals and intentions on post-it notes and put them where you can see them to remind you, you can do the same with your body weight ounces number. This can trigger you to stop and think “How many glasses have I had today?” and adjust as needed. You can also keep track of the glasses you drink on a post-it or on your phone.
- Infuse your Water: If you’re in the “water is boring” camp, infuse it with berries, citrus, herbs, or some cucumbers like at a spa. Whatever you choose, I highly recommend organic produce or herbs since they will be soaking in the water all day and most foods great for infusing are sensitive to absorbing pesticides. On a hot day, you can add frozen fruit to your water and get some cold water and great flavor.
- Carry a Water Bottle: If you’re on the go a lot or work in an office, a water bottle can be your best friend. If you always have it with you, you always have a chance to drink water. You can also use this water bottle as a good way to track during the day how much you’ve consumed.
I hope that this information and the tips I’ve shared have helped you get more familiar with the importance of water. Such a simple thing like drinking water can have such a big impact on your day and with just a few small changes, you can do something really great for your health (and ultimately your life).
So, how do you stay hydrated during the day? Do you have other great tips to share on how to drink enough water? I’d love to hear, share them with me in the comments below!