As you go about making improvements to your health and overall well-being, one factor you need to consider is your hydration.
Many people overlook hydration because they are so focused on food but hydration is just as important.
If you aren’t drinking enough water, you may experience symptoms of dehydration; such as:
- Increased frequency and severity of headaches
- Fatigue and a general sense of weakness
- Increased sensation of hunger
- Decreased physical performance
- Low concentration levels
All in all, adequate hydration is going to help you feel your best throughout the entire day. But how do you get and stay hydrated all day when you just can’t find time between tasks? And more importantly, how much fluid do you need each day?
How much water should you drink per day?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
Many of you may have heard of the ‘8 x 8 rule’ (8 x 8-ounce glasses per day) but common sense tells us that this really cannot apply to everyone. Research published by the Dartmouth Medical School concluded that ‘no scientific studies were found in support of 8 x 8.”
Larger people will need more water than smaller individuals and those who are more active will also require more fluids.
One of the best ways to assess your water intake is to look at the colour of your urine. If your urine is anything brighter than a pale yellow, this indicates dehydration – you aren’t getting enough water. Drink more until you reach that pale yellow/straw colour.
Rather than focusing on sheer numbers, use your urine as a guideline, keeping in mind that your fluid may need to vary day by day (depending on your level of activity).
A good starting point is calculating your daily water intake based on your body weight or daily caloric intake. The following two formulas will give you a starting point from which you can calibrate using (a) how you feel, and (b) the colour of your urine:
- 0.5 ounces x Body Weight in Pounds = Daily Fluid Requirement in ounces
- 1 ounces x Body Weight in Kilograms = Daily Fluid Requirement in ounces
- 0.034 ounces x Daily Caloric Intake = Daily Fluid Requirement in ounces
Note: 1 fluid ounce = 0.0284131 litres
You will find these formulas in health and fitness magazines around the world but, as mentioned, there is no one size fits all formula so use them as a base point and adjust accordingly.
There is a condition that may occur from drinking too much water called hyponatremia. Hyponatremia results from low sodium levels in the blood due to dilution. According to the UK’s National Health Service “symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea, vomiting and headache. In serious cases, the brain can swell, causing confusion, seizures, coma and, in rare cases, death.”
Hyponatremia is extremely rare and you would have to consume a lot of water to get to this stage so don’t worry about it too much. Focus on getting those fluids in and avoiding the signs of dehydration!
If you get to the stage where your urine is clear white and you start feeling queasy, that’s when it may be time to slow down!
Now that you know how much water you need to be drinking, how can you get it in?
1. Just drink plain water
It’s always best to choose pure, plain H2O whenever possible for maximum hydration.
2. Flavor your own water
If you need flavor, try adding a slice of citrus fruit like lemon or lime to your water. For greater infusion, warm the water before adding fruit, give the fruit a squeeze before dropping it in or both.
3. Use off the shelf flavoured water
If plain water just won’t do, you can look to other offerings such as flavored water, sparkling sugar-free water, club soda, coconut water and even some sports drinks. Be aware of the sugar content in off-the-shelf drinks – Some of them are not as healthy as you think!
4. Warm drinks
Tea, decaf coffee and other herbal remedies all count towards your water intake.
5. Fruit and vegetables
Keep in mind that high water-containing fruits and vegetables are also going to count towards your daily fluid intake, as well as provide you with health boosting vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Examples: Watermelon, celery, cucumber, strawberries and lettuce.
6. Smoothies and juicing
Combine water and water rich fruits and vegetables to create a burst of refreshing hydration. Increase your hydration by using crushed ice to thicken your smoothies rather than yogurt or milk.
1. Carry a water bottle
It’s a great idea to get in the habit of carrying a water bottle around with you all day long, sipping whenever you think of it. Before you know it, you’ll meet your water quota.
There are lots of good products on the market that help you to do this without taking up space; such as:
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2. Create habits
As Warren Buffet says:
The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
So why not create good habits like:
- Drinking before meals – Will help you with your hydration goals and also help ensure that you are not eating out of thirst.
- Drinking before bed – Will help replenish fluid lost through the day and balance your body’s internal ecosystem. Don’t drink too much too close to bedtime though; we don’t want any toilet related disruptions while you sleep!
- Drinking when you wake up – Will help you rehydrate after several hours without a drink; as well as fire up your metabolism and flush out toxins.
- Drinking when you get to work and before you leave work – Will form a habit so that you are drinking throughout the whole day.
- Drinking before, during and after exercise – Will help your body remain hydrated. Exercise is one of the considerations discussed in our article: ’Factors Impacting Hydration Requirements.’
Don’t over-bloat yourself or make yourself sick by jugging large amounts of water quickly. This will negatively impact your feelings towards drinking water on a subconscious level. Keep you bottle by your side and sip throughout the day.
Use motivational tools to make sure you are consuming your daily target. Posters, mobile phone apps, challenges with your colleagues and even bottle markings like this can help you to reach your daily quota.
If you have any advice, tips or ideas about staying hydrated please share your thoughts in the comments section below!