We all know that water is important. We literally cannot live without it. The human body can go weeks without food, but cannot survive more than three to five days without water.
Making up nearly 60% of our body, water plays many roles. It aids in:
- Regulating body temperature
- Lubricating our joints
- Flushing out waste products
- Carrying nutrients and oxygen to our cells
- Dissolving minerals and nutrients to make them available to our body
- Cushioning our organs and tissues
- Maintaining electrolyte balance
Even a slight deficit in normal body water (as little as 1%) can cause fatigue, mild headaches and negatively affect your mood, attention and the brains ability to function. We constantly lose water through our breath, urine, feces and sweat. Most healthy people regulate their body water just fine by drinking and eating when their body tells them to. But it’s exceptionally important to be aware of how much water your body is losing during exercise (especially in extreme heat) and when you’re sick.
How much water you should drink varies greatly person to person and you should monitor your body to make sure you’re staying hydrated. The easiest way to do this is by looking at the color of your urine. Your urine should be clear or pale yellow. A darker yellow means you aren’t drinking enough water. Again, there’s no way to know exactly how much water YOUR body needs, but shooting for a half an ounce to an ounce per pound of body weight is a good starting point.
All beverages and food contain water. Drinking water, fruit juice, coffee, iced tea, sparking water, etc. all contribute to your daily water consumption. Water is also great for regulating hunger. Unless you’re trying to gain weight, I would recommend sticking to liquids that are less calorically dense such as plain water, unsweetened iced tea and sparkling water. Liquid calories aren’t as filling, so again, unless you’re trying to gain weight, stick to plain water whenever possible (replacing things like juice, coffee drinks, soda, shakes, etc.) and save your calories for food.
So what do you do if you don’t really like plain water or you just forget to drink it throughout the day? Try some of these tips to increase your daily water consumption:
1. Set a Reminder
Set an alarm on your phone to drink a cup of water every hour. That’s 8 ounces. If you’re awake for 16 hours, which most of us are, that’s 128 ounces (1 gallon) a day.
2. Use a Measured Water Bottle
Having a visual reminder of how many ounces you've had to drink and how many you have to go can be very helpful. Whether you use something like the classic marked Nalgene water bottle, or a standard size 24 ounce water bottle, you'll know where you're at as the day goes on. You could even grab a disposable water bottle and mark up the side with how much you need to drink every hour. The larger the water bottle, the less times you have to remember to fill it up.
3. Drink before each meal
Make it a habit to drink 2 cups (16 ounces) of water before each meal and snack. If you eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day (6 total) you’ll be drinking 96 ounces of water no problem.
4. Add flavor
Not a fan of plain water? Add some flavor to it. You could infuse it with fresh fruit (watermelon, strawberries, lemon), vegetables (cucumber, celery, ginger) or herbs (mint, rosemary, basil). You could also make iced tea or hot tea.
5. Choose sparkling or mineral water
Carbonated water is another option if you’re not a fan of plain water. There are also plenty of flavored options and you can make it yourself at home with a sodastream.
6. Keep a gallon jug with you
If you have a goal to drink a gallon a day, keep a gallon jug close by. You don’t have to carry it around everywhere with you. Fill it up in the morning and take it with you to work. Refill your water bottle or glass throughout the day from the jug until it’s empty.
7. Use an app to track
Logging your water consumption with an app is an easy way to keep track. Especially if you’re already using your phone to log your food. There are plenty of apps out there to track your water. If you’re already using an app like MyFitnessPal to track your food, take advantage of the water tracking section in your food diary.