How much water should you drink a day? Four, five, maybe more or less? Chances are, you’re dehydrated, and you don’t even know it.
Our bodies are comprised of roughly 60% water, but we use and lose a lot of that during an average day through sweating, going to the bathroom, or even just using it to keep our organs functioning properly. The majority of health professionals will tell you that your body needs eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, which equates to a half gallon or two liters.
However, not everyone requires the same amount of water to stay hydrated. Some of us need more, others less, even if you don’t feel all that thirsty. Whether its proper brain function or overall health, water is important, but how much water should you drink a day? The answer might surprise you.
Water, Energy, and Brain Function
Several experts claim that dehydration can lead to decreased energy and brain function. While that might sound farfetched, there are numerous studies to bake those claims up. Mild dehydration, a fluid loss of one to three percent, can impact your mood, concentration, and several aspects of your brain function.
Those percentages aren’t very high, but keep in mind that water does add weight to our body. Losing that 1% is a significant amount when it comes to your internal functions, and you can lose that amount just through exercise or sweating out a hot summer day. If you enjoy a quality workout, mild dehydration can even affect your level of performance. So now, we will answer how much water should you drink a day.
Water and Health
Did you know that there are some health problems that increased water intake can help? Constipation and acne are two issues that water is proven to help with. The more you drink, the more your skin is hydrated, and your colon cleansed.
Some research suggests that drinking increased amounts of water can help to prevent bladder and colorectal cancer. That one is still up in the air in the scientific community, but little proactive care in the form of a glass of water couldn’t hurt. There are a few studies that indicate drinking more could decrease your risk of kidney stones, too.
Aside from helping you handle illnesses, drinking more water is an excellent way to keep your body in healthy condition. Your cells, tissues, and organs all need H20 to function properly.
Water helps to get rid of waste through both your digestive tract and kidneys, lubricates your joints, and protects sensitive tissues. It also helps to regulate your temperature, which is another critical factor to organ health.
Water and Weight
To find out how much water should you drink a day, we must get its relationship with weight loss. One of the main reasons people start drinking more water is to lose weight. We understand why, trust us, but is there any truth to that belief?
If you need some motivation to start hydrating, then you’ll be happy to know that drinking seventeen ounces of water temporarily boosts your metabolism by 24-30 percent! This effect starts to wear off around 90 minutes later, but that’s an excellent reason to start drinking more water today.
Even better, drinking two liters of water a day is estimated to increase the number of calories you burn to ninety-six. So, you can add those to any additional calories you burn during your workout. Keep in mind that this is for cold water, which your body has to heat up (i.e., use up its calorie supply by burning energy).
Drinking an ample amount of water can also help you fight cravings and reduce your overall appetite. Experts recommend drinking one glass of water before each meal to help you eat smaller portions. So, how much water should you drink a day? The answer is two liters if you want to kickstart weight loss.
Do Other Liquids Count?
Plain water is probably best when it comes to proper hydration, but there are a few other things that contribute to your body’s fluid balance. Coffee and tea, for instance, are primarily water. While many think that their caffeine content dehydrates, they can help you stay hydrated to a certain extent.
The food you eat also contains a certain amount of water. Meat, fish, and eggs all have a somewhat higher liquid content, but nothing beats water-rich vegetables like cucumbers or celery. While these foods are healthy choices, you still need to drink plenty of plain old H20 if you are even moderately active during the day.
Listening to Your Body
One good clue to finding how much water should you drink a day, we can listen to what our body is telling us. You are fully equipped with a warning system in your body that tells you when your water levels drop too low. Once they reach a certain level, you’ll notice that you become thirsty. This controlled mechanism is an automatic, unconscious response that shouldn’t be ignored.
People tend to view drinking water one of two ways. They either drink when they feel thirsty or follow the eight 8-ounce glass rule. However, neither of these two are proper indicators for how much water you need in a day.
Drinking any kind of liquid can quench your thirst, which includes soda and milkshakes. You have access to all sorts of liquids, which means you might not always feel thirsty when your body needs a glass of water. That’s where the 8-ounces come into play, but that isn’t exactly accurate either.
There’s no study or scientific fact behind drinking a liter a day. On some days, your body might need more than that to keep up with how much water you are losing. On other days, you might not need half as much simply because you aren’t as active.
If you’re working out or just sweating, then it’s a good idea to replenish what your body is losing by drinking a bottle or glass of water. More athletic types partaking in long, intense exercises should also find a drink packed with electrolytes. Skip the high salt content of Gatorade, though. Excess salt will cause your body to lose fluid instead of retaining it.
You should also drink more when you feel sick. Women should increase their fluid intake when breastfeeding, too. Finally, older individuals should consciously watch how much water they take in. Your body’s thirst mechanism may not be as strong in older age.
The Dangers of Dehydration
A lack of water can lead to several health complications outside of less than optimal functioning. Heat injury can occur during an intense workout or a hot summer day. This can manifest in the form of heat cramps, exhaustion, or even heat stroke (which happens to be life-threatening).
Prolonged dehydration or repeatedly not drinking enough water can lead to kidney stones or even failure in some cases. Your body also becomes more prone to seizures without the electrolytes that your internal fluids provide.
The most serious issue that can arise from dehydration is low blood volume shock, otherwise known as hypovolemic shock. This occurs when low blood volume, caused by a lack of fluids, leads to a drop in your blood pressure. During hypovolemic shock, the amount of oxygen in your body decreases significantly, causing an incredibly dangerous situation.
You can identify when your body is in need of water with less frequent and dark-colored urine, a feeling of fatigue, and slight dizziness. In more extreme cases, dizziness may become more intense, and confusion can set in. This makes driving a vehicle or even walking around the house a hazard.
Dehydration isn’t a joke and might require a trip to the hospital if you are losing more fluids than you can take in. Healthcare experts recommend visiting your doctor if you have been vomiting or have diarrhea for more than 24 hours, cannot keep down any liquids, or are so fatigued that you have trouble even getting out of bed.
Finally, certain medications may also dehydrate you. If you are experiencing some of the lighter symptoms associated with dehydration and have started taking a new medication, then do your body a favor by drinking a few extra glasses of water each day.
How Much Water Should You Drink A Day
So, how much water should you drink a day? That all depends on you as an individual and the factors mentioned above. Start out by drinking two liters a day and see how you feel. Are your thoughts clearer, do you have more energy, or are you just making more trips to the bathroom?
From there, you can gauge how many glasses or bottles of water you need on any given day. Keep in mind to drink more when exercising, dealing with the heat, or when you feel sick to help compensate for the fluids your body is losing during these times. Finally, don’t ignore your body when it tells you that it is thirsty!