Do You Really Need to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day?

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Your body needs water to function properly, so you'll want to hydrate with more than 8 glasses throughout the day.
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Stay Hydrated, My Friends takes a look at all things hydration, dehydration and the different ways to meet your daily water needs.

We're all looking to hack our way to better hydration, whether that means carrying a huge water bottle, tracking our fluid intake or infusing our H2O with some fruit.

Nevertheless, you still may not be drinking enough water for your daily needs.

Although there's no one equation or rule to proper hydration (as it varies from person to person), there are some guidelines you can consider as you gauge your daily water needs.

How Much Water You Need

Proper hydration is crucial for your health. Every part of your body needs water in order to function properly, according to the Mayo Clinic. Without adequate fluids, your body can't get rid of waste, regulate your temperature or keep your joints mobile.

The average healthy adult should drink around 3.7 liters of fluids (about 15.5 cups) for men or 2.7 liters (about 11.5 cups) for women, according to the Mayo Clinic. And while this may seem like a lot of water to guzzle on the daily, keep in mind that about 20 percent of your daily recommended fluids will probably come from other foods and drinks.

You can also try the following equation to calculate how much water you need to function per your body weight, according to the University of Missouri System.

How to calculate water needs according to your body weight

Body weight (in pounds) ÷ 2 = minimum ounces of water to drink per day

Although this is a general hydration guideline, the exact amount of water you should drink each day will vary from person to person and day to day, depending on factors like overall health, diet, activity, among many others, according to the Mayo Clinic.

3 Factors That Affect Your Water Intake

As mentioned, your daily required water or fluid intake will vary depending on several factors.

1. Physical Activity

First, look to your activity levels, advises the Mayo Clinic. When you sweat, your body loses fluids that you need to replenish.

So, if you're an active person, it's important to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising.

Need a way to easily track your daily water intake? Download the MyPlate app to do the job, so you can stay focused and achieve your goals!

2. Your Environment

Where you live is another element you should consider — especially if you live in warm temperatures.

Again, your levels of perspiration affect the amount of water you'll need to stay hydrated, so those living in warm, humid climates will probably need more fluids. This also goes for those living at a high elevation.

3. Overall Health

This is another factor you must consider in gauging your daily water needs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If you're sick with a fever or vomiting, you'll probably be depleted of fluids and in need of a little extra water. People with certain bladder conditions may be advised by a health professional to drink extra water, too.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need to bump their water intake slightly.

Hydration and Exercise

In just one hour of exercise, your body can lose up to a quart of water, depending on your exercise intensity and the temperature, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

So, if you're an active adult who exercises several times per week or even daily, you'll need a little more water than the recommended minimum to keep your body hydrated.

You'll want to drink your fluids strategically when your exercising to keep your body replenished, according to ACE. If you have an intense training session planned, it's advised that you drink a little more fluids than usual in the 24 hours leading up to the session.

The ACE recommends following this hydration schedule as you train: 

  • Two hours before exercise, drink 17 to 20 ounces of fluid.
  • Every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise, drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid.
  • For every pound of water weight lost during exercise, drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid.

And if you're going on a summer hike, always bring more water than you think you'll need. According to a small June 2020 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, most hikers did not bring enough fluid with them on their hike to compensate for their sweat loss in the summer heat, which resulted in dehydration.

Although water is generally the best source of hydration, some people opt for sports drinks in order to replenish their electrolytes.

If you notice salt stains or rings on your clothing after intense exercise, you may be losing some sodium through your sweat and may want to consider a sports drink, according to the ACE.

Water and Weight Loss

While there have been general associations between increased water intake and weight loss, one doesn't necessarily result in the other. There's no conclusive evidence showing a relation between drinking more water and weight loss.

But water does help your body's absorption of nutrients and has the ability to promote regular digestion, according to the Mayo Clinic. Drinking water before and after a meal can help your body break down food more effectively, aiding digestion.

In some cases, you can confuse thirst for hunger, which can lead to unnecessary snacking, according to the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation. While this doesn't apply to everyone, the tendency to eat when thirsty may indicate why some people lose weight when they drink more water.

How to Drink More Water

Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you drink and is usually accompanied by dizziness, fatigue, extreme thirst, infrequent urination or confusion, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If you're not experiencing these symptoms, that doesn't necessarily guarantee you're drinking enough water. If you're rarely thirsty and notice your urine is clear or light yellow in color, that's a sign that you're probably drinking enough fluids, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Although we all know drinking water is absolutely necessary for good health, some may struggle to guzzle down sufficient water each day. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can try to increase your hydration.

  • Try infused water. In some cases, adding some flavor to your water may encourage you to drink more, according to the Mayo Clinic. Try infusing your water with lemon juice, fresh fruit or herbs. Fresh fruits or citrus can add some zest to your glass without tacking on added sugars. You can also fill your shopping cart with these healthy flavored waters.

  • Make your water readily accessible. Keep a full pitcher in your fridge or on your counter at all times, the Mayo Clinic recommends. In some cases, people tend to just forget to drink water. But if it's always within eyesight, hydration will be less likely to slip your mind.

  • Keep track of your fluid intake. Keep a little notepad or journal near your fridge or in your kitchen. You can also download an app such as MyPlate or the Daily Water Tracker Reminder that will help you keep track of your cups consumed and can send you reminders when it's time for another sip.

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