How Much Water to Drink at Once for Optimum Hydration

Your body uses water for a number of purposes, from keeping your blood flowing to your brain cushioned, water is necessary for your life. But when you find you are thirsty, that's a sign that you are already dehydrated. Identify how much water you need on a daily basis, which depends upon your age, gender and body size, so you can always be properly hydrated.

A woman is eating a salad with a glass of water. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Basic Recommendations

Your body loses about 2 liters or 66 ounces of water per day via your urine, sweat, breathing and bowel movements. Your most basic water requirements involve drinking to replace these water losses. This is where the eight glasses of water per day rule is based. Eight glasses translates into almost 2 liters of water, which helps you replace lost water. However, some people need more or less water. Keep in mind that you also take in water through the foods you eat. Soups and fruits like watermelon have high water content that also can contribute to hydration.

Sitting Considerations

Although you might be able to drink all two liters at once, this could cause you to feel uncomfortable and bloated. Your kidneys will work overtime to filter this water through your body, so space out the water you drink throughout the day. Look at your schedule and figure out where water fits into it. A good rule of thumb is to drink a two glasses of water in the morning, two with lunch and two with dinner. In the meantime, you can drink a glass of water each with two snacks a day. If you don't feel hydrated or your urine is not clear, increase your water intake.

During Exercise

You have greater hydration needs when you are exercising. That's because you are sweating more, which equals both water and electrolyte losses. To replace these, you need to monitor your water intake. This includes drinking one cup -- 8 ounce -- of water one to two hours before you exercise, then another cup of water up to 30 minutes before you exercise, according to CNN. Drink two cups of water about 10 to 15 minutes before you exercise for optimal hydration. Then, drink about a half-cup of water every 15 minutes you are exercising. One trick you can use is to weigh yourself before and after exercise. For every pound of water weight you lost through sweat, drink two cups of water. If you have sweated profusely, you may need to drink an electrolyte-containing beverage to prevent adverse muscle symptoms due to the loss of sodium and potassium via your sweat.

Excess Intake

It is possible to drink too much water during a short time, an act that causes hyponatremia or water intoxication. This involves drinking between 4 to 6 liters or about 132 to 200 ounces of water -- a little over 16 cups of water within a small time span. As a result, you can experience symptoms like nausea, bloating, brain swelling and loss of consciousness. Your kidneys can only filter so much water at one time. If you are drinking water to toxic levels, it can have deadly effects.

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