Use my hydration chart to assess if you’re getting enough water
Every month tens of thousands of people ask Google: “How Much Water Should I Drink? And Google points them to some nice written fantasy stories that go something like: “Most people are dehydrated and they don’t know why” or “4 ways you can drink more water” or “10 secrets of water drinking champions revealed” …
You’ll also find a long list of side effects, such as constipation, bad breath, headaches among other dangers. However, the answer to How Much Water Should I Drink is very simple. If you’re thirsty, drink something. If you’re not thirsty, don’t worry about it.
So let’s walk through how much water you should drink together.
Why do you need water? You might’ve already heard
Your body is more than 60 percent water. It uses that fluid for some obvious things—blood, sweat, tears—and some less obvious things: regulating body temperature, helping your body make hormones, and stopping your brain from smashing into your skull when you’re doing burpees. It’s true that chronic dehydration can raise your risk for a host of problems no one wants to have: kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and negative cognitive and physical performance. But there’s a difference between chronic dehydration (being mildly dehydrated a lot of the time) and acute dehydration (which is more severe and requires timely intervention). Most people are not chronically dehydrated, and how much water should I drink is still a question they ask themselves very often.
Thirst: Actually a pretty reliable sense. And our sense of thirst works just as exquisitely. A part of our brain, called the lamina terminus, monitors blood volume and blood osmolality (the ratio of salt to liquid), among other factors, to determine whether the body needs more or less fluid. If blood volume drops and osmolality rises, the brain turns up that dry feeling in our tongues and throats. At this point how much water should I drink is a question you should ask yourself
How much water do you need? Humans need about 3 liters (101 ounces) of fluid per day, though the exact amount will vary from person to person. Depending on someone’s diet, about 34 ounces (1 liter) of that will probably come from food, especially if they’re eating watery foods like veggies, fruit, prepared oatmeal, or yogurt. That leaves about 2 liters (67 ounces) to get from beverages. So the old “drink 8 cups of water a day”—which adds up to 64 ounces—is actually a pretty good general rule.
However: How much water should I drink will depend on a range of factors, like age, weight, health status, and activity level, to name a few. If you’re small and sedentary, you might need less than 3 liters. If you’re in a larger body and also exercise in a hot humid environment, you’ll need more. That’s why thirst is probably a much better gauge than forcing yourself to guzzle a predetermined volume
How much should I drink to lose weight?
A few years back, researchers did a series of studies that found drinking water could increase calorie burning. However, the researchers predicted an extra 2 liters (67 ounces) of water might only boost energy expenditure by about 96 Calories. For context, that’s about the number of calories in a medium banana.
Maybe you’re thinking: Doesn’t water at least dull the appetite, helping people to eat less? It might. One study found that downing half a liter (16 ounces) of water before meals helped people eat less and consequently lose weight. You can also take small sips of water between bites, which will help you eat more slowly. (And actually, eating slowly is one of the best ways to regulate your food intake.)
How do you make sure you’re hydrated?
You have two options.
Option #1: Drink when you’re thirsty
This super-simple option works for most people, including:
✓ People who live in cool-to-moderate climates
✓ People younger than 65
Option #2: Monitor your urine
Some people occasionally suffer from acute dehydration. Like when lots of stuff is coming out of both ends due to food poisoning or infection. Or when exercising intensely in a hot climate. As long as they replace what they lost, it’s no big deal. How do you know if you’ve replaced what you’ve lost? The answer: Check your toilet.
The more dehydrated you are, the greater your urine osmolality (saltiness). Luckily, you can also assess osmolality through color: The greater the osmolality, the darker your urine. If you compare your urine color you’ll get an answer that’s almost as accurate as an expensive hydration test that your physician or trainer would run in the office
This option works best for:
✓ People who live in hot, dry environments and worry about dehydration
✓ People whose jobs make on-demand drinking difficult (such as a healthcare worker who wears a mask for a 12-hour shift)
✓ People who exercise moderately in hot and/or dry environments
✓ People who are pregnant
✓ People age 65 and older
Are you hydrated?
Request the hydration chart below to assess your hydration status. The colors assume you’ve peed in a cup. If you don’t want to do that (who does?) just assume that the toilet water will dilute your urine color by 1 or 2 shades.
With Love, Your Coach D