How Much Should I Hydrate?
Water is essential to all life forms. We can’t live without it, and yet some people rarely, if ever, drink plain water.
Your body is approximately 60% water and requires proper hydration for virtually every process. There is conflicting information about how much water intake you should aim for - doctors often say six to eight 250 mL glasses of water a day. Fitness professions tend to say drink a gallon or two a day. The truth is that nobody knows the exact amount of water required to maintain an individual’s hydration. What we have are guidelines. Don’t drink an excessive amount of water and risk overhydration, but be sure to drink enough.
How Much Water is Necessary?
Water intake requirements vary significantly from individual to individual. Some factors to consider are:
- Age - older people may require less water
- Activity level and conditions in which you sweat excessively
- Climate conditions - you need more water when in hot, dry weather conditions
- Illness - your body requires higher water intake to fight off illnesses like the flu
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding - your body requires higher water intake in these conditions as the body increases its fluid levels significantly
Six to eight glasses per day are the minimum amount of water you should be drinking to stay hydrated. Your body can keep hydrated from any liquids you consume, and some foods, but water is the best choice.
The best way to judge whether you’re hydrated enough is to check the colour of your urine. Aim for pale yellow to clear. Dark yellow urine indicates you are not hydrated enough.
Dehydration is a dangerous condition in which you lose more fluid than you take in, and your body loses the ability to carry out regular, necessary functions. Dehydration is especially dangerous for young children and older people. It can lead to severe complications like heat exhaustion or stroke, urinary and kidney problems, seizures, and low blood volume shock.
Should I Drink a Gallon of Water a Day?
Chronic dehydration is more common than you might realize and contributes to feelings of sluggishness and lack of energy. Dehydration can also cause headaches and severe migraines and contribute to conditions like constipation. Some studies seem to indicate that maintaining proper hydration with a gallon of water per day can:
- Increase energy
- Clear your skin
- Prevent headaches
- Fight bloat and help digestion
- Contribute to weight loss
- Improve your brain function
Increasing your water intake to a gallon per day may help you shed some bodyweight because dehydration can confuse your brain with hunger signals even if you just ate. Dehydration also tends to increase cravings. On the flip side, filling your belly with water helps those cravings to subside.
Should I Drink Water While I Work Out?
You should drink water throughout the day, and any time you feel thirsty. There’s no sense in restricting fluids unless you have a medical reason to reduce water intake.
Drinking water to maintain hydration becomes increasingly crucial during exercise. There are specific recommendations for water intake for exercise:
- At least two hours before exercise, drink 502-590 mL of water.
- For every 10-20 minutes of exercise, drink 205-295 mL of water.
- Afterward, weigh yourself. If you’ve lost weight, you should drink 236-355 mL of water for every kilogram you lost.
Decrease your chances of becoming dehydrated by drinking before you get thirsty. Thirst indicates you’ve already begun to dehydrate. Dress appropriately for the conditions of your workout and never workout in plastic suits.
Is It Possible to Hydrate Too Much?
It is possible to overdo your water intake. Like all things in life, too much of a good thing is bad, and becoming overly hydrated is a real concern. Water intoxication, or hyponatremia, is when your body is too hydrated and cannot excrete the excess water. If this happens, your blood’s sodium content becomes diluted and can lead to serious health complications like stroke or seizure. It can be life-threatening. Although becoming overly hydrated is not common, it is a concern for athletes that participate in long, intense workouts, like marathons.
Game Changer includes an electrolyte complex to replace those you lose during intense or prolonged exercise.
How Do I Stay Hydrated?
If you want to stay more hydrated, but you’re having trouble increasing your water intake, follow these helpful steps.
- Invest in a big, reusable water bottle. Filling a large 2.5 L water bottle and keeping it near you at all times is a great way to remember to keep sipping throughout the day.
- Add flavour to your water. Use lemons or limes, or look for something zero-calorie with no added sugar to sweeten your water and encourage you to increase your water intake.
- Before you allow yourself to drink a cup of coffee, finish a bottle of water.
- Eating spicier foods is a great way to force you to stay more hydrated if you can tolerate heat.
- Track your water. Keeping track is vital, so you know how much water you’ve consumed, and how much you have left.
Aiming for a gallon of water a day can seem daunting at first. You’ll likely be using the loo more frequently, but once you build the habit, it gets easier and easier. Staying hydrated is something that you might overlook how much it affects the way your body feels until you stop doing it. Give the gallon challenge a try for a month. See if it makes a difference (spoiler alert: it will).
There are many ways to stay hydrated, as your body can pull water from all the beverages you drink and even some foods. Water is the superior choice because it provides your body with the most hydration, without added sugar or calories. Water is especially important to drink while exercising, and if you’re concerned about overhydration, add in some electrolytes.
Check out Supplement Superstore’s collection of water bottles, and supplements to assist in proper hydration. We have everything you need to build and maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle.