When I work with nutritional clients, one of the questions I ask during our first meeting is “how much water are you drinking per day?”. And that question is followed by “what else are you drinking?”
The first question gives me an idea of where their basic intake is at, and the second question tells me if their additional liquids are working for or against them. But before I get
Why is water so important?
Water is crucial for our bodies. While the body can go up to 8 weeks without food, it can only go days without water. Water makes up 55-60% of the total mass of our bodies – our cells are made up of a lot of water! In fact 2/3 of the fluid in our body is cellular fluid.
What does water do for us?
- Cellular hydration (as discussed above)
Helpsto carry nutrients around the body
- Removes waste & toxins from the body
- Regulates your body temperature
- Cushions & lubricates our bones & joints
- Hydrates our cartilage (which absorbs shocks to joints & organs)
- Helps to maintain proper electrolyte balance within the body
And this is just a short list. But looking at this list, you can already see how water is vital to our body working properly. You can also see where things can go downhill when there isn’t proper water. A drop of only 2% in water content can cause fatigue, headaches, cravings, or even depression. And a drop of 10% can cause major health issues in digestion, immunity, joints/bones, and the cardiovascular system. This might show up as heartburn, constipation, migraines, joint or back pain, high blood pressure, or fibromyalgia.
Do you see yourself in any of these symptoms? Of course, some of these can be related to issues other than water, but since water is a simple change to make, it is a fantastic place to start to possibly see results quickly! (Note: not all hydration related issues are resolved quickly. For example, dehydrated cartilage can take months to rehydrate properly. But symptoms like fatigue, headaches, migraines, and constipation can see results rather quickly if dehydration is the source of the problem.)
So how much water should I be drinking?
I have seen various formulas for how much water to drink. Some are quite complex, and in the end, they are quite close to what this simple formula calculates. As a general rule:
So simply take your body weight, and divide that by 2 and that is how many ounces of water you should drink per day. For example, if you weigh 140 lbs, 140/2 = 70. So you should drink approximately 70 oz of water per day. You might be thinking you get the required amount, but I am going to challenge you to really keep track for a day. Use the Notes app in your phone, or a piece of paper you can make tally marks on to mark each 8 oz glass you have.
What about other beverages?
While water should be your #1 source of hydration, there are some other beverages that can be healthy & hydrating. Things like decaffeinated teas, kombucha, or cold pressed veggie juices are amazing sources of good nutrients.
On the other hand, diuretic beverages are going to cause your body to lose more water. Beverages like coffee, caffeinated teas, soda, alcohol, or highly processed juice beverages are all diuretic. They will dehydrate your body instead of hydrating it. Because of this, you need to be sure to rehydrate properly after drinking these types of beverages.
For proper rehydration,
you should drink 12-16 ounces of water
for EVERY 8 oz of a diuretic beverage
that you consume.
So that 8 oz cup of coffee means that you will need to drink an additional 12-16 oz of water on top of the daily amount you calculated above.
A note on electrolytes
You may have heard the term electrolytes thrown around, especially if you are interested in fitness & sports. Many people think “Gatorade” when they hear electrolytes. I want to tell you to erase that from your mind. When you need to be properly re-hydrated, a processed, sugar filled, food colored drink should be your LAST choice.
Basically, electrolytes are minerals that help conduct electricity in the body. They carry an electrical current, help maintain the pH balance of the body, and help control how water passes in and out of cell membranes. These minerals help you stay hydrated! The 2 big minerals for this are sodium & potassium. These minerals need to be in balance for proper body function, but specifically for proper water
A simple way to make sure you’re getting the electrolytes you need is to add a pinch of real sea salt (not white table salt) to your water. That along with either a potassium supplement or by eating potassium rich foods (bananas, spinach, broccoli, oranges, white & sweet potatoes, peas, raisins, etc) will provide good electrolytes to your body. You can also buy electrolyte drops to add to your water, or electrolyte ready to drink water.
Why should drinking more water be a first health goal?
By this point, you might already be seeing why I think this! If not, go back up and re-read that list of what water does for us, and the affects of dehydration on the body.
Put simply, dehydration can cause so many issues. And it is a simple thing to fix.
Fill a glass with water.
Well, it isn’t THAT easy or no one would be dehydrated. However, it is a cheap healthy improvement you can do, and it is easily accessible. Additionally, it is very likely that simply drinking more water will help with some health issue/concern you have. For that reason, I always recommend it as a great first goal for making healthy changes.
How can I get myself to drink more water?
I have found that one of the best ways to get myself to drink more water is to have it always available in a container that I can NOT spill. (I’m disaster prone!) I carry my glass Camelbak bottle with me EVERYWHERE. This encourages me to drink up all day long. If you have the bottle with you, it is so much easier to keep drinking all day.
I am a big fan of these glass bottles with the silicone sleeves. I’ve had mine for over a year and it is so sturdy & durable! I have a plastic Camelbak that I use from time to time. And while it is BPA free (always get BPA free water bottles!), I still find that if the water sits in there too long, or gets warm in the car that it ends up with a weird sweet flavor. I’m not sure exactly what this is, but I err on the side of not drinking that water when it gets like that. I never experience this in my glass bottle, even under the same circumstances. Another option is a stainless steel water bottle like a S’well bottle.
Also, adding some fruit to your water for flavor is also a great option. You can also add fruit to your water bottle, or get a bottle like this Gutta Vita bottle or this Fresh Fusions bottle that have a built-in flavor infuser to put your fruit in.
What are your health goals?
No matter what your health goals are, putting hydration near the top of the list of changes to make will help you see great benefits! But I’d love to hear about what some of your health concerns are and what your goals are for yourself. You can comment below, contact me, or fill out my nutritional survey to get a free Nutritional Assessment! Drink up! 🙂
2 thoughts on “Why Drinking Water Should Be Your First Health Goal”
I really and truly enjoyed this post Stephanie! As you know I am embarking upon my own weight loss journey, and really needed this valuable information. I always hear about how people should drink water, but reading this helped tremendously! I even know how much I should drink! I didn’t know that before, you always just hear 8 glasses or whatever! Awesome blog!
I’m glad it was useful to you, Lori! Water definitely is something that should be a priority for everyone, but especially if you are trying to be healthy and lose weight.