We all know (or maybe we are) that guy walking around with a gallon jug full of H2O all day, every day. Or that girl that has a different color water bottle every time you see her and it’s always full. Just thinking about all that water might make you thirsty or leave you wondering how many trips to the bathroom those guzzlers make on a daily basis. It may also leave you questioning how much water you should be drinking every day. This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I get from the clients and athletes that I work with. Everyone is looking for that ‘magic’ amount and many believe that eight, 8 ounce glasses (64 ounces/day) of the wet stuff is what it takes. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple and the ‘perfect’ amount for you depends on a lot of different factors – body size, climate, sweat rate, exercise, foods eaten, and diet. So, how important is this water thing and how the heck do you know what you need? Let’s look at what it takes to keep you afloat and why it’s so important.
Water: What is it good for?
- Our bodies use the ‘wet stuff’ to moisten and digest food, transport nutrients, get rid of waste, serve as a solvent for biochemical reactions, and dissipate heat (got sweat??).
- The average adult body is between 50-65% water (approximately 45 quarts). Men tend to be more ‘watered down’ than women; 60-65% and 50-60% respectively.
- Blood is about 93% water, muscle 73% and fat 10%. During normal metabolic processes the body actually ‘makes’ its own water (about 8-16 oz/day).
- Losing just 2% of body weight in fluid can decrease physical and mental performance by up to 25%. If you start feeling groggy in the afternoon – you may just need to ‘wet your whistle’.
- Feeling a little ‘stopped-up’? If you’re short on fluids you may also be ‘full of (insert four letter word here)’. Adequate fluid intake will help you keep the lake adequately stocked with ‘brown trout’… (In case you’re a little lost – think constipation…)
- Thirsty? You feel thirsty when there is an increased concentration of particles in the blood. You’ll start ‘craving the wave’ once you’ve lost ~1.5-2% of your body weight in fluid.
- If you’re ‘sweating buckets’ – drink up! Losing 10% or more of your body weight in sweat can be deadly!!
So, yeah water is kind of important. Without it you’ll probably make it around 3-5 days before meeting your maker… But does that mean you need to invest in a ‘set of water bottles’ or start toting a gallon jug of H2O everywhere you go? Probably not and here’s why:
- The water you drink isn’t the only fluid that counts toward your ‘quota’. Many foods are great sources of fluid and drinks like tea and coffee count too! Coffee and tea are 99.5% water, soup and bone broth count too! Lettuce and cucumbers are 96% water; broccoli and cauliflower ~91%; spinach and cabbage ~93%; watermelon, grapefruit and cantaloupe fall at around 90-92%; peaches, plums, apricots, blueberries, pears and oranges ~85-87%. Fresh produce is a great big water party!
- Consider your climate – is hot or cold, dry or humid? How much time are you spending outside and how much are you sweating? All of these factors play into how much guzzling you’ll need to do.
- If you’re looking for an easy way to monitor your hydration level – Ur-ine luck!! Yep, you got it – check the pee color. You’re looking for ‘weak lemonade’ not ‘apple juice’. If you see neon lights – that multi- or B-vitamin supplement you’re taking is likely to blame. If it’s a crazy pink/purple and you just ate beets – don’t shed any water-filled tears; you’ll live! If you see blood get it checked out ASAP; this could be a sign of kidney injury/disease or stones, urinary tract infection, or prostate issues. And if that still leaves you confused try this quiz or this calculator to help establish a starting point.
Is your tank perfectly fluid-filled, running dry or overflowing? It’s not too tough to figure out. For drinking purposes, water is best – soda, diet soda, juices, Crystal Light, etc., are not your fluid friends. Stick to good old H2O (I like mineral water – it’s kinda bubbly…) and get ‘high(hy)’-drated.