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How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?

How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?


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Your daily water requirement depends on 4 factors: body weight, dehydration, how much is lost, and activity level

Find out how to determine how much water you should be drinking every day.

Along with food, water is essential for living a healthy life, and without it, we could not survive. Making up about 60 percent of our body weight, water does a number of things to keep our bodies strong and healthy. In addition to quenching thirst, water helps control body temperature, flush toxins, and retain moisture. It also keeps our skin looking young and healthy, helps maintain a healthy body weight, and much more. Because we need water to survive, it’s so important that we drink enough every day.

How Much Water Should You Be Drinking? (Slideshow)

But how much is enough? We don’t all require the same amount of water. As each of our bodies is different, each of us requires a different amount of water depending on four factors: body weight, dehydration, how much is lost, and activity level.

Your daily water requirement can be calculated with a simple equation based on your body weight. The amount of water you need also has to do with your level of dehydration and how much water your body loses daily.

Making sure you're drinking enough water every day can be as simple as eating water-heavy fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers, carrying around a water bottle, or drinking a glass first thing in the morning and with every meal.

Take a look at our slideshow to see how much water you should be drinking every day.

This post was originally published on November 12, 2013.


How Much Water Should I Drink Daily?

About 60% of your body weight is made of water. You need it for every single body function. It flushes toxins from your organs, carries nutrients to your cells, cushions your joints, and helps you digest the food you eat.

If you don’t get enough water, you can become dehydrated. Severe cases of dehydration can cause dizziness, confusion, and even seizures.

That’s why it’s important to get the water as your body needs every day. No set amount is right for everyone. How much you need can depend on your size, how much exercise you do, how hot the weather is, and other things. Your doctor can help you determine what’s right for you.


Why do you need water?

You might’ve already heard:

Your body is more than 60 percent water.

It uses that fluid for some obvious things—blood, sweat, tears—and some less obvious things: regulating body temperature, helping your body make hormones, and stopping your brain from smashing into your skull when you’re doing burpees.

It’s true that chronic dehydration can raise your risk for a host of problems no one wants to have: kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and negative cognitive and physical performance. 1

But there’s a difference between chronic dehydration (being mildly dehydrated a lot of the time) and acute dehydration (which is more severe, and requires timely intervention).

Most people are not chronically dehydrated.

When I give workshops, I often go through client case studies—asking the audience to tell me what they would suggest.

Without fail, someone raises their hand and proclaims: “The first thing I’d do is have them drink more water.”

That’s when they tell me: “Well, most people are dehydrated.”

This is a misconception. According to the Center of Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the average US adult easily meets—and even surpasses—their water needs. 2

Thirst: Actually a pretty reliable sense.

Most people are like my new puppy, Charley.

Charley drinks when she’s thirsty, and she does just fine—no special formulas or calculations required.

And our sense of thirst works just as exquisitely.

A part of our brain, called the lamina terminus, monitors blood volume and blood osmolality (the ratio of salt to liquid), among other factors, to determine whether the body needs more or less fluid. If blood volume drops and osmolality rises, the brain turns up that dry feeling in our tongues and throats. 3

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How Much Water Should You Really Drink Daily?

The standard 8x8 rule of water consumption that we all live by (eight, 8-oz cups of water a day) isn’t based on any hard, scientific data. A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Physiology took a deep dive into past literature and turned up….nothing. Nada. Zilch.

That’s right. It’s completely made up!

Along with this misinformation comes additional factors to consider including differences in peoples’ weight, medical condition, exercise regimen, home-climate, etc. With all of this, its understandably difficult for the average person to make sense of it all.

Well, that’s exactly why we’re here at Hands That Touch Home Healthcare Inc. Along with skilled-nursing and physical therapy needs, we also provide free health consultations and medical advice when needed. So let's delay your thirst no longer and get into some true facts about water consumption.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY

Your body is an extremely complex system with the ultimate goal of keeping you healthy. In the same way your stomach begins to grumble to signal you’re hungry, you get thirsty when your body’s water content drops below a certain level. Regardless of how much you’ve already drank during the day, if you have feelings of thirst then do not ignore them.

EVERYTHING COUNTS

You don’t have to drink pure H2O to satisfy your water intake.

Contrary to popular belief, liquids such as coffee, tea, milk and unsweetened beverages do help with hydration. In addition, water can be found in dietary foods such as meat, fish, eggs and especially fruits & vegetables.

So don’t immediately run to the grocery store and fill your cart with bottled water there are a myriad of options to achieve your hydration goals.

DO YOU

As summer winds down and the heatwaves subside, many people may believe they need less water not so! You should consider your own, unique situation when determining how much to adjust your water intake. If you are pregnant, exercise regularly, currently dieting or live in a warmer climate you will need to drink more water than average.

In addition, people with certain medical conditions can also benefit from higher water intake. For example, individuals who suffer from frequent constipation, kidney stones or even bladder cancer have been show in medical studies to benefit from drinking more water daily.

As always, you can contact us at Hands That Touch Home Health Services Inc for a free consultation about your skilled-nursing and physical therapy needs. We look forward to providing you and your family with the highest-quality, capable care for recovery or long term care at home.


How can you increase your water intake?

If you’re thinking, “There’s no way I can chug so much plain water every day,” you have additional options for staying hydrated:

  • Flavored and bubbly water. If you like fizz in your glass, consider trying seltzer, sparkling water, or club soda—they hydrate just as well as still water. Or, give still water a flavor infusion by adding fresh fruit and herbs. Commercially bottled water containing non-nutritive sweeteners is another option if you want the flavor and convenience of a soft drink without the extra calories.
  • Water-dense vegetables. Eating foods higher in water content can help keep you adequately hydrated, as well. Water-rich veggies include celery, bell peppers, zucchini, lettuce, and tomatoes. Try crunching on veggie sticks with salsa, or add an extra handful of chopped tomato to your salad.
  • Water-dense fruits. Did you know that one orange contains up to 4 ounces of H2O? Along with citrus, water-dense fruits include melons, berries, and stone fruits (such as peaches).

Can drinking water help you lose weight?

Research has not established a direct link between water intake and weight loss. Water can support weight loss, however, when it takes the place of sugar-sweetened soft drinks. Unlike a can of sugary cola, water delivers hydration without adding calories to a person’s overall diet.

Other health benefits of drinking water

Good hydration is essential for:

  • Regulating body temperature
  • Supporting digestion
  • Carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells
  • Eliminating toxins via the kidneys
  • Optimizing brain function

In a nutshell, water helps the entire body function at its best.


How Much Water Should You Drink Every Day?

One of the more common New Year&aposs resolutions I&aposve heard my friends bandy about this year is to drink more water. And as far as resolutions go, staying hydrated is one of the more reasonable ones. (I might refer you to my own resolutions, which include running a half-marathon even though I can barely run three miles, but that&aposs a whole other story.) But setting this resolution begs the question: how much water should you drink every day? Now, we can all agree that being dehydrated sucks. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. Being dehydrated is totally preventable, though, as long as you drink enough water. The trick, of course, is figuring out how much water you need to drink to stay hydrated.

This is a topic about which I&aposm asked regularly, ever since an article I wrote about how I drank 96 ounces of water every day to cure my acne went viral. I think people think that I&aposm some sort of internet evangelist for drinking more water, and to this day, I get tweets and emails and Facebook messages from complete strangers about my experiment in hydration and healthy living. They wonder if I&aposm still drinking the daily recommended amount of water and if it&aposs really fixed my skincare woes. The answer to both of those questions is no. I don&apost still drink 96 ounces of water every single day, and I still break out, especially when I&aposm dehydrated and overtired.

It&aposs not that I&aposm not interested in staying hydrated, but I&aposve long thrown the whole goal of drinking 96 ounces of water a day out the window. Part of the reason is because I literally couldn&apost keep up with it. 96 ounces of water is a lot of water—though, in defense of the Institute of Medicine, whose guidelines for daily water consumption informed my initial weeklong experiment, women need to consume only 91 ounces of water every day to adequately hydrated, not 96 ounces.

91 ounces is still about eight full glasses, which is the amount of water you should drink according to conventional wisdom. Men, meanwhile, need to consume 125ounces of water every single day, which definitely seems like an absurd amount of water. Forcing myself to drink that much water every single day was enough to drive me insane𠅊nd straight to the bathroom every hour to pee. I felt like it was a chore, another thing to check off my to-do list, and after a while, it felt like I was experiencing diminishing returns. Drinking three full Nalgene bottles of water didn&apost make me feel significantly better than if I only drank two, though I did feel very, very guilty about it.

Forcing myself to drink 96 ounces of water every single day was enough to drive me insane&mdashand straight to the bathroom every hour to pee.

Turns out, I shouldn&apost feel guilty about dropping the daily water goal, because there is no such a thing as the "right" amount of water. As Dr. Natasha Sandy, celebrity dermatologist and wellness expert explained in an email, that whole "eight glasses of water" thing isn&apost supported by much research. "In reality it varies based on general health and activity," she explained. "What we know for sure is a well hydrated body functions better 70% of the body is water." But that amount of water is different for every body and depends heavily on environmental factors.

Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDN, and the director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami, Florida, seconded that point, and even recommended against forcing yourself to drink a certain amount of water daily. "We should drink according to thirst—when we exercise, when it’s hot, etc.," she explained in an email. "There is no need to keep water by your desk and try to force yourself to drink more. It is like going to the bathroom," she continued. "Do you need to give yourself encouragement to do that? No, you just go when you have the urge or need to. It is the same with drinking water, drink when you’re thirsty."


How much water should older people drink?

When elderly folks are admitted to the hospital, they’re often dehydrated.

That’s probably because, as we get older, our thirst mechanisms don’t work like they used to. Neither do our kidneys. Certain medications can increase urine output, too. Plus, our bodies don’t seem to hold as much fluid.10

All of that increases our risk of becoming dehydrated.

Drink an additional 8 to 16 ounces (.25 to .5 liters) of fluid—over and above your level of thirst.
Consume whatever beverage you enjoy—an electrolyte drink, iced tea, or even diet cola. (For more on why hydration is more important than worrying about artificial sweeteners, read: Should you drink diet soda?)
Monitor your urine and drink up if it’s bright yellow or darker. (See Are you hydrated? below for specifics.)
Know the symptoms of dehydration: dark urine, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, dry mouth.

How much should I drink to lose weight?

A few years back, researchers did a series of studies that found drinking water could increase calorie burning. 11 12

However, the researchers predicted an extra 2 liters (67 ounces) of water might only boost energy expenditure by about 96 Calories.

For context, that’s about the number of calories in a medium banana.

Maybe you’re thinking: Doesn’t water at least dull the appetite, helping people to eat less?

One study found that downing half a liter (16 ounces) of water before meals helped people eat less and consequently lose weight.13

You can also take small sips of water between bites, which will help you eat more slowly. (And actually, eating slowly is one of the best ways to regulate your food intake. Read more: How slow eating can transform your body.)


The answer is yes, but it’s very rare. Hyponatremia—when you drink so much water in a short amount of time that it throws off the balance of sodium in your blood—can happen if you exercise vigorously for a long period of time and then drink a lot of water very quickly. However, you can keep your post-workout hydration covered by choosing beverages packed with electrolytes to keep the balance in check!

1. Keep a water bottle close by.

2. Skip sugary drinks. Although you’re getting fluid from juice, soda, or alcohol, water is the best source for hydration.

3. Drink a glass of water before and during each meal.

4. Hydrate before, during, and after sweating it out at the gym.

Our best tip for daily hydration? Refresh your water with a burst of flavor, so you can savor every swig. Check out these mouth-watering recipes!

YL tip: Oil and water don’t mix. Use something to help disperse the oil, like pureed fruit, or stir well before drinking.


Hydrate Toward Success

Keep yourself hydrated and you’ll see results — both in how you look and how you feel.

Water goes a long way toward reaching the weight loss goals you set for yourself and is essential if you want to live a healthier, happier life.

It can be a daily struggle to make sure you get all your water in, with frequent runs to the bathroom for the first few days, but in time, you’ll begin to notice the benefits, both inside and out, of drinking more water.


So How Much Water Do You Need?

There are several factors that influence how much fluids you need. Here are a few of the most common considerations:

  • Exercise: If you’ve been sweating a lot (like after a long, hard workout), you need more than just water to rehydrate you. When you sweat you also lose electrolytes, such as sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. So if you’ve been working out for over an hour, like on a long run or playing a single tennis match, make sure you get some salt back in you, either through a snack (like a handful of salted pretzels) or a recovery beverage (studies have shown that chocolate milk, which delivers both sodium and protein, makes an excellent recovery beverage). If you’re exercising for less than an hour, plain water is just fine — you don’t want to undo all those calories burned with a sugary sports drink.
  • Weather: You need to drink more water if you’re in a hot environment. High humidity also increases your water needs, so make sure you drink enough water and eat water-rich foods (hello fruits and veggies!) when it’s hot out, especially if you’re exercising.
  • Weight loss: Water fills you up — it’s one of the reasons eating water-rich, low-calorie foods can help you feel satisfied. In a 2010 study, older adults who drank 2 cups of water before meals lost a few more pounds over 4 months than those who didn’t drink water first.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

Kerri-Ann Jennings is a registered dietitian who writes on food and health trends. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.



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