How much water do we need every day? Eight glasses? Half our body weight in ounces? Is there really a definitive answer to how much water is needed on a daily basis? No!!
While water is an absolute necessity, we all have very different hydration needs that vary depending on our health, activity level, diet, and climate, so there is no “one size fits all” recommendation. Water makes up 60 percent of our body weight, though it can vary, depending on size and gender. On average, healthy adults should drink a minimum of 2 liters, or 8.5 cups, of water or fluid every day, however that amount will also vary based on weight and gender.
Differences in Optimal Intake
When figuring out your optimal hydration, there are a few factors to keep in mind:
- the intensity of your fitness routine
- the temperature outside
- your current health status
- and for women, being pregnant or lactating
Tennis players and athletes have hydration requirements greater than sedentary individuals, by about one to three cups per day. Long matches and vigorous activities for extended periods of time (especially over an hour) makes electrolytes (sodium and potassium) essential to hydration, as well. Replacing electrolytes that are lost through sweating helps avoid the condition of having too little sodium in your blood.
Similarly, those living in warm and/or humid climates causes greater fluid loss than that of individuals living in more temperate climates. And for these people, additional fluids and electrolytes are highly recommended.
Fluid intake becomes even more variable if you are sick with vomiting or diarrhea. And for those who have chronic health conditions that prevent normal fluid release or abnormal fluid retention, it’s important they discuss their hydration needs with their doctor.
Lastly, pregnant or lactating women require much more fluids than normal for adequate hydration – between 10 to 14 additional cups per day, for a total fluid intake of about 4.5 liters or 18 cups.
What Counts Toward Hydration
Optimal hydration can be reached through drinking various fluids, like water, soda, juice and even coffee! Believe it or not, coffee is a good hydrator and is positively associated with better mood and cognition.
Most recently, scientists have discovered that water-dense foods such as watermelon and cucumber are also good sources of optimal hydration and rehydration. Not only that, but whey-based protein recovery drinks after a workout, and meal replacement shakes DO COUNT toward hydration and provide added satiety! Who knew??
Hydration and Weight Loss
Hydration is paramount to health and wellness and can even contribute to weight gain or weight loss. I’m not talking about sugary beverages – those have been linked to obesity. It’s the sugar-free drinks like water, coffee, and tea that have been linked to better weight-loss success. They hydrate AND help fill you up so you’ll have less of a chance to overeat. Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger so food is eaten instead of drinking water or other fluid. A good idea is to first hydrate with a glass of water, a cup of coffee or tea, or any other sugar-free beverage before grabbing a snack.
Staying properly hydrated also plays a role in thermoregulation, meaning that if you’re properly hydrated, you’ll burn more calories than someone who is dehydrated, or not hydrated enough. Proper hydration keeps you from over-eating AND helps you burn calories faster!! WIN-WIN!!
Think Outside the Water Bottle
When determining personal water and fluid intake needed for optimal hydration, one of the best things to remember is to not become thirsty. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to chug jugs of water all day, though water is definitely a great hydrator. There are a variety of sugar-free fluids and water-dense fruits and veggies, as well as coffee, tea, electrolyte-enhanced beverages, and whey-based protein drinks that can have you properly hydrated.
Please share this post with your friends, and if you’d like some tips on how you can be at your optimal hydration level, please contact me here, or through my Facebook page. I’m here to help you! And please feel free to leave me a comment down below. I love comments!!