One of the best motivators to living a healthy life is simple. Drink water. You might be surprised by how the simple act of monitoring your hydration can help you feel better.
Drinking water can clear your thinking process, change your mood, help prevent constipation and kidney stones, and helps regulate your body temperature according to the CDC. Basically, water is essential for life and is needed for temperature control, lubrication, and transport.
Water can be found in beverages and food moisture, but also needs sodium and other minerals. Basically, it means everything we consume contributes to our body water volume.
This is why it can be complicated to determine how much daily fluid intake you need. What's important is to figure out how much water YOU need.
Daily Fluid Intake Guidelines
Let's start with the basics. Here are some guidelines by the European Food Safety Authority (2010) and National Academy of Medicine, USA (2004). (please note this is an estimate and everyone's needs are different)
Daily fluid intake for Adults
Men 2500mL/10.5 cups 3700mL/15.5 cups
Women 2000mL/8.5cups 2700mL/11.5cups
This is just a starting point, a lot contributes to these numbers. Such as exercise, ethnicity, environment, outdoor temperatures, fever, diarrhea or vomiting, pregnancy, lactating, and diet.
Daily fluid intake(DFI) can consist of more than just water, such as low to no-calorie beverages. Examples include plain coffee, tea, sparkling water, seltzers, and flavored water. DFI can also include drinks with calories or nutritional value such as low fat or fat-free milk, unflavored soy milk, unflavored almond milk, 100% juice, and vegetable juice. Please consider your caloric intake when consuming these options.
A great start to your health journey
If you are just starting on a new health journey, water is a perfect place to start. It will help you control your appetite, help with the circulation of important chemicals within your body, it will get you feeling better, and help you make better choices. Here are some tips to help you understand your need for water.
Feeling snacky? You might actually be thirsty. Sometimes we have a hard time differentiating between being hungry and being thirsty. If you have eaten in the last hour whether or a meal or a snack try drinking some water before reaching for another snack/meal. If it quenches your craving it might just be what you needed. Fluids should not replace food but can help control your cravings.
Staring your day with water before anything else is a great tip on your health journey. Remember you have been in fasting mode while you were sleeping and are starting off your day dehydrated. I keep a water bottle next to my bed, and the first thing I do before getting out of bed is drink water. It helps me wake up, as well as encourages me to drink more water.
Tired? Are you feeling tired throughout the day and slept fine. You might be dehydrated. Grab some water. I often hear that many of my clients are too tired to work out. When they increase their water intake they find more energy throughout their day and feel capable of not only handling their busy days but have the energy to get a workout as well. More energy = more movement.
Exercise and Fluid intake
Are you already on or thinking about an exercise program? Here are some tips for increasing your fluid intake while exercising. These are recommendations and will vary per person.
2 - 3 hours before your workout consume 17 to 20 oz of water.
10 - 20mins prior consume 7 to 10oz
During exercise consume 7 to 10 oz every 10 to 20mins. Also, consider electrolytes when exercise exceeds 45mins.
After exercise try and consume 16 to 24 oz/lb body weight lost within 2 hours. *Avoid drinking too much all at once to avoid possible hyponatremia.
Tip: if you sweat in your workout weigh-in right before your workout and weigh-in after your cardio workout. The difference could be your loss of fluid.
Tips for success
Remember if you do not already have a DFI plan in place this is going to be a new habit that takes time to build. Be patient, and know that you are capable of doing this. Practice these habits for at least 30 days and it will become a normal process of your lifestyle. Here are some other tips for staying hydrated and avoiding those slip-ups.
Measure. Place all the water you need in one container or track with one of these handy water bottles from Amazon.
Check-in. Set an alarm on your phone for every hour to check-in. When is the last time you had water? Are you thirsty? What's your daily intake look like so far?
Gradual intake. Try and create a habit of drinking small amounts throughout the day vs all at once. If focusing on DFI is new to you just try and consume your water, don't stress about how much when. Your body will get used to having water and will send you craving notices for more.
Consume with food. Sounds like a prescription doesn't it? Well, really it is. It's a health prescription. Drinking your beverage with a meal will help your body digest your foods. Especially if your food doesn't already have a lot of moisture, or is high in protein/sodium. Pour a full glass of water and enjoy with your meal.
Water-rich foods. Eating foods high in water content will help you meet your goals increasing your daily fluid intake. Just remember they contribute to your caloric intake as well. Here are some water-rich foods
Broths or Soups 92%
Plain Yogurt 88%
Bell Peppers 92%
Coconut Water 95%
Cottage Cheese 80%
Eating water-rich foods should not replace water altogether. Consuming a combination of both to meet your total needs should have you feeling hydrated and meet your needs. Of course, your needs will increase with exercise or other outside influencers.
Remember it's all about balance, and finding your balance is the most important part of finding the right daily fluid intake for yourself. You can consume too much fluid, but it's rare compared to those who consume too little. Watch for the signs of dehydration and try and avoid them. Good luck and I wish you the best on your health journey.
Kris Myers, CPT, E-RYT, FRCms