We all inherently know that drinking water benefits us. Many of us often have days when we fall short on our water intake, and many times we may not even realize it. Low energy, headaches, constipation, dry skin are all possible side effects of insufficient hydration.
How much water do we need......
While you should try to reach an optimal level of hydration, keep in mind that more is not always better... there are dangers of over hydrating. Drinking copious amounts of water in a short time can lead to fatal water intoxication and those with certain heart conditions have to be cautious about water intake.
Just as each individual has different dietary needs, our fluid intake depends on:
body weight and composition
food intake (fruits and vegetables naturally contain more water)
Men: 2.5 - 3 liters/day Women: 2 - 2.5 liters/day
We can get more specific by using this recommendation:
Drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces. Add 8 ounces for every 15 minutes of exercise.
So a 150 pound individual who goes to the gym for 15 min of strength training and 12 minutes of high intensity exercise should drink 91 ounces of water that day.
75 ounces (1/2 body weight) + 16 ounces (1/2 hour of exercise) = 91 ounces
What about other drinks? Alcohol is a diuretic and cannot be counted toward your fluid intake.
Non-alcoholic fluids, including tea, coffee and juice, all count toward your fluid intake as long as caffeine consumption does not exceed 400 mg/day (this also causes a diuretic effect promoting fluid loss).
Tips for drinking more water:
Add (natural) flavors: citrus fruit, cucumber, mint
Try herbal teas
Use an app to track water intake
Set a timer on your watch or phone to drink more water
Invest in a water container and/or filter that keeps water cool and tasty
Some find they drink more water if using a straw
Pair water drinking with another frequent activity (like going to the bathroom---drink more water, pee more often, drink more water.....)
Drink sparkling or mineral water (should contain natural flavors only - not sugar substitutes)
Set a deadline for finishing each glass or bottle of water so your consumption is spread out throughout the day and you can reduce intake closer to bedtime.
Mark your water bottle or put elastic bands on it to track consumption... if your goal is to drink 96 ounces/day, and your water bottle is 12 ounces, you'll need to drink 8 bottles/day. Put 8 bands on the top or bottom of the bottle and slide them up or down as you finish each bottle.