It makes up 60% of our body weight, is present in every cell in our body, and keeps all of our bodies mechanisms running smoothly. Of course I am talking about Dihydrogen Monoxide, H2O, better known as water. Since we were kids the recommendation was to drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day to stay healthy and hydrated.
Unfortunately, while this recommendation is easy to remember and count, it is based on no real science and of course will not be the right amount for everybody. An 80-pound female who lives a sedentary lifestyle will probably not need three liters of water a day, and a 300-pound professional football player will most definitely need more water than the daily recommendation to avoid dehydration.
In this article we will be going over the risks of getting too much/little water every day, the benefits of getting the right amount, and finding what that amount is for you.
Under, over and adequate hydration
The eight glasses a day theory is just about two liters, or a half a gallon, which for most will be enough water to prevent dehydration. Most Americans do not reach this limit and hover closer to one liter or less a day however, which can lead to certain symptoms of mild dehydration.
Especially for those who sweat from a hot climate or daily exercise, not drinking enough water will lead to fatigue, achy joints, high blood pressure, constipation, and an electrolyte imbalance that will cause muscle cramps. Of course more serious cases of dehydration can lead to organs shutting down and possible death, but this is rare in countries with access to clean water.
On the other side of the spectrum, getting too much water can actually be dangerous too. More likely to happen to military members in the field or ultra-endurance athletes who over-hydrate to prepare, they risk the possibility of developing hyponatremia. This happens when sodium levels in the body drop too low due to dilution.
Symptoms of hyponatremia include brain fog, cramps, vomiting, central nervous system failure, even coma, seizures and death when extreme enough (this can happen at any time, whether it be drinking a gallon in an hour or multiple gallons in multiple hours).
On the flipside, drinking enough but not too much water will prevent all of these symptoms, and also help your body excrete waste efficiently, keep your body at a healthy body temperature, keep your electrolytes balanced, lubricate your joints and ligaments, and many, many more benefits.
Basically drinking a decent amount of water for your personal needs will be one of the main driving factors to keep you healthy and your body in homeostasis.
So how much water do I need?
Again, eight glasses a day is a good amount for most, but it is geared towards the average individual who doesn’t sweat daily, lives a rather sedentary lifestyle, and doesn’t have a high amount of muscle mass.
A better way to find out how much you need is starting with the base number of 2/3 of your weight in ounces a day at a minimum. For example, a 100-pound individual should drink around 66 ounces or about two liters of water, and a 200-pound individual should drink around 130 ounces or 4 liters a day.
It’s also important to take into account your composition and daily activity level. If you work at a desk job and don’t get to the gym that day, the base amount of water should be enough for you. But if you work on a construction size and lift weights for an hour before work, you should add around 500 ml to an extra liter per hour of sweat-inducing exercise/work you perform.
Always remember to spread out your consumption throughout the day, as drinking 5 liters of water in an hour can be lethal, it might also be essential over a 24 hour period to prevent dehydration.
Take home message
All these numbers are well and good, but of course you should let your thirst also help you regulate how much water your body needs, as thirst exists for a reason!
Another important point to mention is how you get your liquids in, as pure water does get old after a while. Sodas, pumpkin spice lattes and full sugar energy drinks are not recommended especially if you are trying to have an overall healthy lifestyle or have any kind of fitness goals. Instead opt for the calorie -free drinks, whether you prefer tea, coffee, diet soda, or a flavor enhancer for your water.
Besides making your daily water needs easier to reach, calorie-free and artificially sweetened drinks can actually help you lose weight by curbing your appetite and cravings (and no, artificial sweeteners are not bad for you in moderation).
Finally, you can use your urine to be a good judge of how hydrated you are. Light yellow or clear is a good indication of proper hydration, and dark yellow or other dark colors (usually brownish), means you need to drink more water.
As we have reached the end of the article, thank you for reading and I hope you learned something useful!