Thursday, September 24, 2009

So How Much Water Do You Really Need?

As I mentioned in my previous post, there has been a constant flow of information within the past couple of years warning Americans to drink more water. While this has certainly heighten awareness helping people to consciously add what was probably some much needed water into their diet, how much does the average person truly need to drink? Should one be taking a sip every chance they get? Probably not considering my experience. I did some research to get the scoop on how often you really need to be refilling that BPA-free Nalgene of yours.

First, a few facts on why water indeed is good for you. Water helps to purify the body and eliminate toxins. What this means for you: A healthier body and better looking skin. Drinking enough water helps eliminate waste and gives the skin a natural glow. According to the Mayo Clinic, water makes up 60% of your body weight and is vital for every system in the body. Without water, the body cannot properly function, and dehydration can lead to serious fatigue. However, as I discovered, over consumption of water can also lead to a drain on the electrolytes also leading to fatigue. So what is the proper amount?

The general rule is to drink eight 8-ounces of fluids a day. However, this amount varies depending on the person. If you are more active, you'll want to replenish yourself by drinking additional water, and if you are particularly sedentary, most likely you won't need eight 8-ounces. The ultimate goal is to drink enough water to make up for the amount of water you lose throughout the day. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average adult urinates approx. 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) a day and loses about another liter through sweating, breathing, and bowel movements. This equates to needing to consume about 8 cups of water in order to replace the excreted water, hence the golden rule of drinking eight 8-ounces of fluid per day. If you're sweating excessively, drink an extra glass to replace the loss of water. If the duration of physical activity is longer than an hour and relatively intense, you made need to also find a drink or boost yourself with some sodium to replace the sodium being lost. This can also throw your electrolytes out of balance. Overconsumption of water can make it hard for the kidneys to excrete the excess water, and can even lead to dilution of the blood resulting in a condition called hyponatremia. Distance runners and endurance athletes should be mindful of this.

Another key to notice when trying to determine how much water you should be consuming is to check the color of your pee. Yeah, that's right, analyze it in terms of contrast with the toilet bowl (haha). Generally, your urine should remain clear or slightly yellow in color. If it's bright yellow, this can mean you need to be drinking more water. Unless however you are taking a multi-vitamin which can tend to color the urination as excess nutrients are eliminated.

Just remember to stay hydrated and listen to when your body is telling you it's thirsty. If you're feeling parched, don't avoid the feelings, and go find yourself a glass of water. Don't just reach for any fluids, such as soda or coffee which contain caffeine and can actually further dehydrate the body. Also, when drinking alcohol, make sure to load up on plenty of water during and afterwards.

When it comes to working out, drink a cup of water approximately 20-30 minutes before hitting the gym. Try to stay rehydrated throughout the physical activity, or refuel on a glass afterwards.

The bottom line: Drink when you're thirsty and don't avoid your body's signals.


  1. I read recently that the 8 of 8 rule is a little misunderstood, that 64 ounces is needed but that includes the water found in other drinks and food? So if you drank 9 ounces of soda, it isn't as healthy as water, but you're still getting 8 ounces of water?

    Also, back in high school coaches used to say that if you feel thirsty, you've already begun the dehydration process, so make sure you're never thirsty!

    Anyways, been reading, good stuff, keep up the good work!

  2. Very thoughtfull post on fitness. It should be very much helpfull

    Karim - Mind Power