We have all heard that staying hydrated is important. It is also widely known that the body is mostly made up of water (approximately 60% in adults). So what’s the big deal? Many of the reactions that take place in our cells require water. That can be hard for us to visualize, but it results in things we can see and feel. When dehydrated, our skin can be dry, as opposed to plump and healthy looking. Our brain doesn’t work as well when we are dehydrated, and slower thinking and headaches can result. It even makes a difference in the world of sports. Dehydration can affect our muscle strength and endurance, and even our aerobic performance. An additional undesirable effect of dehydration – it can make you think you’re hungry, when really you’re thirsty, resulting in often-unwanted weight gain. Even with this knowledge, some people still have a hard time staying hydrated throughout the day. So how much water should you have each day? The Adequate Intake set by the United States Department of Agriculture is 3.7 liters per day for adult males (15-16 cups) and 2.7 liters per day for adult females (11-12 cups). Keep in mind that it is possible to drink too much water, so it is important never to force yourself to drink too much. Here are some tips for staying optimally hydrated.
- Weigh yourself before and after you exercise. For every pound you lost while exercising, drink 16oz of fluid to replace it.
- Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day and take small sips so you don’t feel like you have to drink a lot at a time.
- Keep caffeine and alcohol to a minimum as these both act as diuretics, which can dehydrate you further.
- If you don’t like plain water, try putting a little lemon in it, or drinking an herbal tea (Note: make sure to fully research an herbal tea before consumption, some can have dangerous side effects).
- For exercise lasting longer than 60 minutes, you may need to replace electrolytes in addition to water. This can be accomplished by having a snack (such as a banana) along with your water, or by consuming a sports drink (careful though, sports drinks can be tough on teeth!).
Bethany Pianca is a Nutritionist with a B.S. in Dietetics from San Francisco State University. She is currently an intern at San Francisco State University working towards becoming a Registered Dietitian. With experience counseling those looking to lose weight, boost energy, or just improve their diet, Bethany focuses on making changes that fit the client’s lifestyle.