I get asked all the time how much you need to hydrate. I also get asked WHAT you should hydrate with and when. I wanted to break down the HOW MUCH a bit today so you had a resource for your hydration needs. Hydration is an important part of your health and if you aren’t drinking enough or drinking enough of the right stuff, you may run into health issues OR just not be completely optimizing your health.
I have at least 3 drinks around me at all times. So you could say I’m really into hydration. It’s not that I’m constantly thirsty it’s that I’m really into drinking liquids AND I like options. Not only that, I like to have access to fluids should I get thirsty. I guess you could call my 3-4 drinks at all times a security blanket. However, I recognize that while I prioritize hydration, everyone else may not, so let’s learn why we need to hydrate & how much hydration we really need.
Let’s take a step back for a second and talk about why hydration even matters. Or wait, does it? Well, yes to put it plain and simple, being hydrated is important and without it can lead to many health issues. You can go a month without food but only 3 days without hydration. I mean, I can’t go a day without fluids so I can’t imagine the torture that would be 3 days.
Your body is over 50% water so CLEARLY, it is important. While I love food and find it incredibly valuable for your health, hydration is just as if not more important for you and your health. Here are a few key reasons why you need to hydrate:
….and many more reasons. Now that we know why you need hydration, let’s learn how much.
It DEPENDS. Shocker I know. However, it really does depends. Most people will tell you that you need 1/2 your body weight in ounces. While I agree, that is a good starting point, it’s not the perfect amount for everyone. Others will tell you that you need a gallon a day (and that you should carry said gallon jug around with you). That is also another “close, but no cigar” type suggestions. Still, others will tell you that you need 8 glasses of water per day. A good starting point, yet again. To make the drinking water in your home free of contaminants and to give it a closer resemblance to that bottled water taste, you could consider investing in water filtration devices for your home – Click for additional details.
The amount of water you need depends on A LOT of different factors and there is no one size fits all as it comes to hydration. Certainly, there are things to look out for to see if you are hydrated enough but let’s start by figuring out what your needs depend on.
If you need a baseline amount, the Adequate Intake levels, as set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), is 2.7L/day for females and 3.7L/day for males (sedentary). It is suggested that 20% comes from food and 80% comes from fluids. However, fluid needs may go up to 10L/day based on activity needs. This is just an estimated guess as that’s all Adequate Intake really is.
The AI is a recommended average daily nutrient intake level, based on experimentally derived intake levels or approximations of observed mean nutrient intake by a group (or groups) of apparently healthy people that are assumed to be adequate. (source)
First, I have some questions to ask yourself when you are trying to figure out if you are hydrated or not:
Each question alone won’t tell you how much fluid you need but together they will help get you close. To be honest, thirst & digestion will probably be your biggest markers on if you are drinking enough water or not.
I recommend all my clients start with 1/2 their body weight in ounces and go from there. For example:
150 lb female divided by 1/2 = 75lbs = 75 ounces daily
If they feel likes it’s too much and not helping or not sustainable we back off. If they find benefit from it, we continue. If we find that they are still thirsty, we try upping it. There is no hard and fast rule.
I also recommend taking into account any changes to your normal status quo. If you are sweating more, traveling, in a new environment, new health status, etc. your hydration needs may (and will) change.
Once again, there is no right answer, just that you need to listen to your body. If you really have no idea, ask a professional! That’s what we’re here for.
I will do a whole other post on what to hydrate with, but for now, the key is to hydrate with mostly water and water from foods. Ideally 20% from foods & 80% from water itself.
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