It’s a phrase you've likely heard
countless times from physicians, dietitians, coaches, and even your mom.
Although this is sound advice, it's often easier said than done. As a
dietitian, I provide hydration goals for individuals. But it's not so cut and
dry for everyone. The amount of water you should drink depends on a variety of
elements, making a seemingly simple request turn into a somewhat complex
response. Let's break it down.
What about that 8 x 8 rule?
You've probably heard the commonly
accepted recommendation for eight, 8-ounce (236.58ml) glasses of water per day. My take:
This a good place for the average, healthy person to begin, so go with it.
However, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies suggests
a total water
goal – including all beverages and food – by aiming for 91 ounces (2.7l) for
women and 125 ounces (3.7l) for men each day. Although this seems like a
significantly greater volume of water than the 8x8 guideline, ultimately, it is
important to remember that this recommendation includes total water
In other words, many of the
beverages and foods we consume contribute to this daily goal, including coffee,
tea, juice, milk, fruits and vegetables, to name just a few. While an estimated 20 percent of your water intake
can come from food, the rest should be from liquids. (It's important to keep sweetened
beverages at a minimum and focus on fluid intake mostly from unsweetened
beverages, like sparkling water, unsweetened tea or good old H2O.)
So, what might affect my #watergoals?
- Your exercise habits. Beyond the baseline recommendation, exercise also plays a big role in your
hydration needs. As a general rule, any activity that produces sweat requires
fluid replenishment. For the average exerciser, this means drinking water
before, during and after a workout, according to your personal thirst cues and
energy levels. However, for high-intensity workouts lasting longer
than an hour, sports drinks are a more effective way to replenish lost
- Your zip code. Humid climates and high altitudes increase dehydration risk and require
additional fluid needs.
- Your well status. Your body loses water during a fever, diarrhoea or vomiting. (Gross, I know, but
still necessary to know!) While most mild cases simply require extra water
intake, be sure to ask your doctor if additional oral rehydration solutions are
- Your baby situation. Pregnancy and breastfeeding require increased fluid needs, as adequate
hydration can help prevent haemorrhoids, constipation, excessive swelling and
urinary tract infections. If you're pregnant, you should drink about 81 ounces
(2.4l) of fluids each day, and women who are breastfeeding should
increase fluids to about 105 ounces (3.1l) each day. (Moral of the story:
Water should be your BFF if you're pregnant or breastfeeding!)
Will water help with weight loss?
Short answer: probably. While
drinking enough water is important for your overall health and wellbeing, there
are some benefits related to weight management. Drinking water helps you
physically fill up space in the stomach and therefore decreases appetite, but
staying hydrated also means reduced thirst. This really matters because
many of us confuse internal thirst and hunger cues, leading to overconsumption in general.
Staying properly hydrated helps you decipher these feelings happening in your
body. (Plus, by ditching sweetened beverages, like juice or soda, for water,
you’ll automatically decrease overall caloric intake.)
How do I know if I'm not drinking
Ultimately, the best way to spot
dehydration is to pay attention to the warning signs. If you experience any of these,
your body might be trying to tell you to drink up:
- Increased body temperature
- Rapid breathing or heart rate
Prefer a more visual indicator? You
can tell if you're drinking enough water if your urine is colourless or a very
pale yellow. (If it's a bright or dark yellow, that could mean you're lacking
a side note, don’t freak out if your urine is bright yellow after taking a
multivitamin; this usually indicates that you're excreting the water-soluble
vitamins beyond what you can absorb. As long as the colour balances to a lighter
yellow throughout the day, you're still properly hydrated.
Ok, water is clearly awesome, but can I drink too much?
Technically, yes. But it's rare.
Overconsumption of water can lead to dangerously low levels of sodium through
blood dilution, known as hyponatremia. However, most healthy people are not at
risk for this uncommon condition. (Extreme athletes and older adults with
medical complications are more at risk.)
Bottom line: The
rule of eight, 8-ounce glasses is a great starting place, but know that fluid
needs can be individual so you may want to consult with a dietitian or doctor.
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article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.
Image credit: iStock