Spilling the Tea on Healthy Hydration
We’ve all heard the old adage, “drink 8 glasses of water a day.” But why? And is 8 really the right amount? What impact does hydration really have on your health? And how does working out affect my water intake? Today we’re tackling all these questions and more as we look at the whys, hows and whats of healthy hydration.
In broad terms, drinking enough water is vital for your body to function optimally. Water lubricates your joints, regulates your body temperature, and is essential for all of your organs to do their thing. Low hydration levels can even affect your mood and concentration.
When it comes to working out, water is crucial to maximizing performance. If you aren’t drinking enough water you will feel fatigued and lose motivation more quickly. Insufficient hydration can actually make your workout feel harder, which is something no one needs.
Not to mention, drinking lots of water also promotes weight loss. Some studies have suggested it can help boost your metabolism, while others have shown that drinking water before meals can help reduce calorie intake. Plus, drinking enough water actually reduces water weight and bloating.
Want your skin to have that healthy glow? Drink more water. Proper hydration helps skin elasticity, reduces dryness and improves complexion.
As discussed above, staying hydrated is about so much more than just avoiding dehydration. But we’d be remiss to share information about drinking water without covering dehydration.
The short definition of dehydration is when you aren’t drinking enough fluids for your body to function properly. Symptoms can include dry lips and mouth, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, headache, and fatigue or irritability. Obviously these are things you generally want to avoid.
Perhaps the best way to check your hydration level is the color of your urine. If it’s light or almost clear, you’re doing great with your water intake. If it’s dark and more opaque, you’ve got some work to do.
Thankfully, dehydration is pretty easy to remedy - just drink some fluids. Extreme dehydration (sunken eyes, low blood pressure, increased heart rate) may require extra medical attention, but if you are simply behind on your liquids for the day, just drink some water, gatorade or clear broth. Avoid soda, coffee, energy drinks, and other beverages with caffeine.
Drinking water is particularly important when working out, because our bodies lose a ton of fluids when we sweat. Especially if you live in a high altitude area, or are exercising outside in the heat.
So any time you workout, go for a hike, or take an exercise class, it’s super important to bring a water bottle with you. If exercise is a regular part of your daily routine, then drinking enough water should be too!
However, the best way to stay adequately hydrated is to drink plenty of water throughout the day, not just chug some after your workout. A good general rule is the more you sweat, the more you drink!
The truth is, 8 glasses a day may not be right for everyone. It’s easy to remember and a great goal to work towards, but really everyone’s optimal water amount will be different.
The amount of water you need to drink will be impacted by how much you exercise, the environment you live in, other health conditions, and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Recommendations differ, but The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends 15.5 cups per day for men and 11.5 cups per day for women. However, that also includes any water you may get through foods and other beverages, so your diet is another factor to consider.
In general, if you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is light, then you are drinking enough water. If not, then try adding another glass or two to your daily water intake.
Want more on water? Keep an eye out for tips for staying hydrated in our next post!