One of the best things you can do for yourself is incredibly simple: drink more water.
Your body is about 60% water, and your brain is about 73% water. You need water to function, and you lose water every day through your breath, perspiration, urine, and bowel movements. Research shows that more than 4 in 10 Americans don’t drink enough water.
Here are three reasons why it’s so important to drink enough water:
- You’ll have more energy. The first sign of dehydration is the feeling of being tired.
- You’ll eat less: a lot of the time thirst masquerades as hunger. Drinking water will often make you realize you don’t need to eat something after all. And if you eat less, you’ll lose weight.
- You’ll alleviate constipation and digestive problems: your body needs water to eliminate the food you digest.
And here are three more reasons why you need to make sure that you drink the amount of water that your body needs:
- Water flushes out toxins from your body.
- You’ll have more beautiful skin if you drink plenty of water.
- Proper hydration keeps your joints lubricated.
To top it all off, your brain needs water. When you don’t drink enough water, your brain cells lose efficiency: it’s more difficult to focus; both your short-term and long-term memory are impaired; and your reaction time slows down.
Below you’ll discover how much water you should be drinking, and ten things you can do to drink more water so that you can meet your daily water requirements and stay properly hydrated.
How Much Water Do You Need?
How much water should you drink? You’ve probably heard the “8 x 8” rule: drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. However, the reality is that the amount of water that a person should drink varies by individual.
How much water your body needs depends on different factors, such as the following:
- Your gender;
- Your size and weight;
- The weather, and
- Your level of physical activity.
Here are some general guidelines you can use:
- The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume a total of 91 ounces (that’s about 2.7 liters) per day, and that men consume about 125 ounces a day (or 3.7 liters).
- Trent Nessler, PT, DPT, MPT–managing director of Baptist Sports Medicine in Nashville–says the following: “In general, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day.” So, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day.
- Make sure that you drink water before, during, and after a workout.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, you’re drinking enough water if you rarely feel thirst and your urine is colorless or slightly yellow.
- Here’s a handy calculator you can use to determine how much water you should be drinking: SOMA(it takes into account your weight and how much exercise you’re getting).
- About.com also has a handy Hydration Calculator.
Once you’ve decide how much water you need to stay properly hydrated, set that as your daily goal. Keep in mind that 20% of your water needs typically come from the foods you eat.
In addition, drinks other than water–such as juice, tea, and even coffee–can count toward the remaining 80% of your hydration needs. However, water is almost always the best way to replace lost fluids.
Ten Ways to Drink More Water
In order to meet your daily water goal, here are ten ways to drink more water:
1. Drink Lemon Water First Thing. A great morning habit is to drink a glass of lukewarm water with lemon when you wake up. While you sleep, your body becomes dehydrated. You’ll be jump-starting your metabolism and helping your brain to wake up by gulping down a glass of water shortly after getting out of bed.
In addition, the lemon gives flavor to the water, gives you Vitamin C, balances your pH levels, and has other benefits.
2. Keep a Water Bottle With You. Having water easily accessible makes it more likely that you’ll drink it. Choose your water bottle as carefully as you would choose a pair of sunglasses or other must-have accessory. It’s something you’ll always want to have with you.
When choosing a bottle, make sure that it’s made of glass, and not plastic, so that that there’s no risk of chemicals leaching into your drink. Lots of people love the Lifefactory glass water bottle, but there are plenty of choices available.
3. Use Rubber Bands. Once you’ve determined how much water you need to drink, use rubber bands to keep track of how much water you’re drinking. For example:
- If your goal is to drink 100 ounces of water a day, and your water bottle holds 20 ounces, wrap five rubber bands around your water bottle in the morning.
- Each time that you empty the bottle, take off a rubber band and refill the bottle.
- Your goal is to take off all five rubber bands by the end of the day.
4. Set Water Triggers. Set triggers to remind you to drink water. Here are some examples:
- Take three sips from the water fountain at work every time you walk past it.
- Take three sips of water from your water bottle every time your phone rings.
- Drink a glass of water just before you start getting dressed for a workout.
- Drink a glass of water as soon as you get back from a workout.
- If you’re watching television, take a drink of water each time a commercial comes on.
5. Set Alarms. When you’re very busy you may need a hydration nudge. Use the alarm that comes with your cell phone and set several alerts–set one or two hours apart–that will remind you to drink water. Each time the alarm goes off, get up, stretch, and drink a glass of water.
6. There’s An App for That. If you keep forgetting to stay hydrated, turn to your iPhone for help. Download a free app like Hydro or Waterlogged. These apps will remind you when you need to drink water, and they’ll help you keep track of how much water you’re taking in.
7. Make Infused Water. If plain water bores you, try infused water. The easiest way to infuse your water is by adding a few slices of cucumber to a pitcher of water. However, there are many different fruits, vegetables, and herbs you can add to your water to make it more interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll feel like you’re at a spa.
8. Get a Water Filter. Some people don’t like the taste of tap water, which could become an obstacle when they’ve set the goal to drink more water. If this is you, get a water filter. Water filters can provide a better tasting and better smelling drinking water.
9. Gamify Your Water Intake. Everything is easier if you turn it into a game. Create a water card which allows you to keep track of how much water you’re getting, and give yourself points each time that you drink a glass of water. Give yourself a reward at the end of the week if you meet your water goal for the week.
You can even get some friends to play with you and compete to see who reaches their water goal and who doesn’t.
10. Take A 21-Day Water Challenge. Give yourself the challenge of staying properly hydrated for 21 days. At the end of the 21 days record how you feel. Chances are you’ll have more energy, have an easier time concentrating, and be in a better mood, and you’ll be hooked on water for the rest of your life.
Like everything else in life, don’t overdo it. There is such a thing as drinking too much water (but most people don’t need to worry about this).
Are you drinking enough water? If not, use the tips above to start giving your body the hydration it needs. One very simple way to live your best life is by drinking more water. How do you make sure that you get all of the water that you need?
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