How Much Water to Drink a Day + My Top 10 Hydration Tips
I hope you’ve been enjoying my 5 Pillars of Wellness blog series as much as I have! If that doesn’t sound familiar to you, here’s a quick recap: My Pillars of Wellness are about optimizing what you’re eating, drinking and thinking, and how you’re resting and renewing.
Today we’re diving into one of the most essential, yet often overlooked and underestimated pillars: What you’re drinking. When it comes to the Pillars of Wellness, that pretty much boils down to one thing (something that actually DOES boil)… water!
I’m passionate about hydration and it’s key to overall good health. H2O is an unsung hero. So let’s give it the attention it deserves, shall we?
Why Drinking Water and Staying Hydrated is Important
Water is considered an essential nutrient for a reason. It makes up 60 percent of our bodies and is crucial for the function of vital organs. Water aids your body’s digestion, helps remove waste in detoxification processes, keeps your skin healthy, regulates body temperature, helps maintain energy and boosts physical performance.
It also protects your joints, tissues and spinal cord by lubricating and cushioning them. According to one study, water can even give you a mental boost! Water is even necessary to make sure your body’s cells function properly. Without proper hydration, your cells actually shrink. No wonder our body depends on water!
Bottom line: Getting enough water isn’t just a healthy habit—it’s a matter of survival. How many of your daily “essentials” can you say that about?
How to Calculate Your Daily Water Intake
Ok, so we can all agree that getting enough water is super important. But what does enough really mean? The old “eight glasses a day” rule is outdated. Here’s a simple formula to help you figure out how much water to drink a day:
Your body weight in pounds: ______ divided by 2 = ______ oz of water per day
Or, if you use the metric system:
Your weight in kilograms: ______ divided by 30 = ______ liters of water per day
So for example, a person who weighs 150 lb should consume about 75 oz of water per day (150 divided by 2 = 75). A 77-kg person should consume just over 2 ½ liters of water per day (77 divided by 30 = ~2.5).
Special Considerations for Certain Medical Conditions
Keep in mind that certain folks may have increased hydration needs. For example, if you do intense exercise, spend a lot of time in the sun or sweat a lot, your body loses fluids much faster. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes may help your body absorb water, but are not recommended for those with less active lifestyles.
There are also other factors to consider. The elderly are at a higher risk of dehydration. Cancer patients, especially those in treatment, may need extra water to prevent dehydration from cancer therapy side effects like diarrhea and vomiting.
It’s also possible for people with certain health conditions (such as thyroid disease or kidney, liver, or heart problems) and those taking certain medications to get too much water. Please work with your healthcare provider if you have any medical conditions or are uncertain about your specific needs.
How to Tell if You’re Dehydrated
Now that you know what your water intake should look like, let’s talk about how to tell if you’re not getting enough fluids. Dehydration is serious business. Even a low-level H2O deficiency can affect how you feel. Here are some tell-tale signs of dehydration in otherwise healthy adults:
- Digestive troubles such as constipation
- Lack of energy
- Peeing less frequently or decreased urine output when you go
- Dark yellow urine (check out this handy guide to urine colors!)
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle cramps
- Kidney stones
- Dry mouth, skin and/or eyes
- Mental fog, anxiety and other mood changes (source)
- If you feel thirsty, you’re already likely mildly dehydrated.
If you have any signs of dehydration, especially the more serious symptoms, please consult with your doctor! I’m just here to empower you with info—this post is not a replacement for working with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner.
These symptoms could be indicative of other health issues, so they need to be evaluated within the context of your holistic well-being and background.
Think You Might be Dehydrated? Try the Skin Elasticity Test
This is one of my favorite tests to tell if you’ve been drinking enough! A simple way to measure your hydration level is by testing your skin elasticity. Lightly pinch the skin on one of your knuckles for a few seconds and then let it go. If your skin forms a tent and doesn’t return to normal immediately, it could be a sign of mild dehydration. Just keep in mind that this test may be less accurate in older adults. Why? Skin loses elasticity as we age, so if you’re over 65, it won’t be as accurate.
How to Stay Hydrated: 10 Tips to Help You Drink More Water
Wondering how you’ll possibly meet your daily hydration needs? I have no doubt you’re up to the task, but here are some tips for staying hydrated:
Tip #1: Use a Pitcher (or Large Water Bottle)
Get a pitcher big enough to hold your entire recommended daily intake. Fill it up at the beginning of the day and pour a fresh glass whenever you find yourself on empty. You’re done when you hit the bottom of the pitcher! Pro tip: I keep my pitcher at my desk so I don’t forget.
If you’re out and about, a reusable water bottle that can hold your daily water intake (or one that’s easy to refill) is a great investment. Get yourself a reusable stainless steel, glass or silicone water bottle. You’re more likely to drink water if it’s constantly with you.
Tip #2: Drink a Glass of Water When You Wake Up
I’m a big fan of drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning. It’s a great way to kickstart your metabolism and get you well on the way to a hydrated day! Drinking a glass of water before each meal can help you digest your food and feel fuller faster.
Tip #3: Set Reminders to Drink Water
Use calendar notifications, an app (like WaterMinder), or even old-school sticky notes. Whatever works for you to take a few sips on the regular!
Tip #4: Track Your Progress
Stay motivated by gamifying your water intake. Make note of when you drink water and how many ounces or liters you drink throughout the day so you can pace yourself. The Wellness Tracker in my Results Journal is perfect for this!
Tip #5: Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables
You don’t just have to drink to get your fill of fluids. The food you eat—ahem, fruits and vegetables—can be another great way to get in more fluids! Other than hydration, you’ll get a plethora of other health benefits from adding in more leafy greens and fresh fruits.
Tip #6: Enjoy Green Drinks
Your daily ounces or liters don’t have to be 100% plain water. Fresh fruits and veggies are made of water just like we are, so you can blend, or juice ‘em up into a tasty, hydrating treat. I created my Hello Hydration juice from two fruits with high water content: watermelon (about 92 percent water) and cucumber (about 96 percent water).
Tip #7: Drink Flavored Water
Who said water had to be boring? If you have trouble getting excited about water, infuse it with fruits, veggies, and herbs. Experiment with different flavor combos and don’t forget to enjoy how pretty it looks! Here’s a delightfully quenching recipe for Orange, Grapefruit, and Rosemary Infused Water.
Tip #8: Drink Other Beverages like Seltzer or Sparkling Water
Isn’t everything more fun with bubbles? You may have heard rumors that carbonation robs calcium from bones, erodes tooth enamel and irritates the stomach. But some of the research that prompted these concerns involved carbonated colas rather than plain carbonated water.
Just steer clear of store-bought varieties with added sugar, artificial sugars and other additives. Speaking of things to steer clear of, consider cutting back on coffee, energy drinks, sugary sodas, wine and liquor, and other sugar-filled drinks. Why? They can actually remove more water from your system.
And if you want to reduce waste, try making your own sparkling water with a machine like this one from Kitchenaid or this one from SodaStream.
Tip #9: Spread Out Your Water Consumption
Guzzling too much in a short time frame could make you feel sick, which could demotivate you from your long-term hydration goals. And while overhydration is rare, chugging too much water in a single sitting could dilute your body’s healthy sodium and electrolyte levels (source). Instead, drink a glass of water intermittently throughout the day. Check in with your doc if your pee is totally clear—it may be a sign that you’re drinking too much water (it should be a light yellow color).
Tip #10: Regulate Your Body Temperature (Watch What You Wear)
If you’re physically active and spend a lot of time outdoors, you have to make sure you drink plenty of fluid to replenish lost fluids from excessive sweat. Secondly, experts recommend that you wear light-colored loose-fitting clothing to avoid heat stroke.
Bonus Tip: Filter Your Water
Filter your water to make sure it’s free of icky pollutants. Check out this article to learn more about the importance of water filtration and the best types of filters.
Call-to-Action: Addressing the Global Water Crisis
One last thing before you go: Billions of people all over the world do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. I believe that hydration is a human right—no one should have to worry about getting poisoned by their water or not being able to find enough. If you’re interested in learning more about this global crisis and/or getting involved, I encourage you to check out charity: water, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, or another organization that aligns with your values.
What’s Your Favorite Way to Hydrate?
I hope the info and tips in this article help you stay happily hydrated. Paying attention to what you drink is just one piece of the wellness puzzle—but just like your favorite jigsaw, the picture isn’t complete without it. Think of every sip as a thank you to your amazing bod for all the walking, loving, playing, running, thinking, sitting, standing, stretching, laughing, etc. it allows you to do.
Your turn: What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to getting enough water every day? Or if you’re an H2O pro, what’s your secret to hydration success?
Peace & heavenly H2O,
My Results Journal was designed to help you supercharge your health, amplify your joy and rock your dreams. In it, I’ll guide you through the daily, weekly and quarterly practices that have helped me create a life I love so you can do the same. Plus, you can save 15% today when you make journaling a healthful habit all year long. Learn more and get your copy here.