We’re taught all through school that up to 60% of our bodies are made up of water. It comes as no surprise then that water and adequate hydration are integral to the proper functioning of the body. As we use and lose water throughout the day in many different forms, the question arises of how much water we should drink to stay sufficiently hydrated and when we should drink this water. With water fasts and detoxes becoming the newest trend and with the age-old saying that water curbs appetite for weight loss, understanding how to use water effectively can go a long way in achieving your body, beauty, and health goals. Let’s establish a few things first.
Why Should You Care?
Let’s get our facts straight just so you can wrap your mind around the pivotal role that water plays in your body. The USDS Water Science School explains that 60% of the adult male body and 55% of the adult female body is made up of water and we’re all born with an even higher water content to start out. According to research published by H.H. Mitchell in his Journal of Biological Chemistry, water makes up 73% of your brain and heart, 83% of your lungs, 64% of your skin, 79% of your muscles and kidneys, and 31% of your bones. It is the first building material for every cell. It regulates the temperature of your body and composition of your blood. It filters out unwanted toxins, and it transports carbohydrates and proteins across your body to be metabolized for energy. I’m sure you’re convinced by now that water is a key player in your body. It’s the real MVP here, but unfortunately its stores are not everlasting and as your body loses water, it demands to be replenished too.
Your body is a fighter, though. It will make do with whatever water reserves it can to keep you looking well and fine on the outside. You’ll rarely seem to notice this way. When the dehydration gets intensely severe, though, you’ll find yourself in a sudden shock at how dry your body’s gone. As your skin loses moisture and dark spots start to appear or as your hair and nails fall unbelievably weak, you’ll realize that water is the only cure-all remedy to your troubles and unfortunately, it’s not as simple as chugging a few glasses down all at once. There’s only so much that your body will take in at one time so ensuring that you maintain your hydration consistently is key.
Misconception: Drink When You’re Thirsty
Let’s get one massive misconception out of the way first. When it comes to drinking water, the golden rule appears to be that you should drink water when you’re thirsty. Although this is fine and you should definitely slurp down some when your body prompts you to, know that if your body is signaling thirst, you must already be far dehydrated to be feeling the severe need. Unlike the stomach which enjoys embarrassing you in public engagements with noises even when you’re not really THAT hungry, the body seldom speaks out to you about water needs.
After exerting or working out, you may feel a sudden need for water as you’ve lost a lot of it so quickly, but the water lost slow and steady throughout the day doesn’t prompt such a noticeable response. This is why you should make it a habit to consistently binge on the all-pure miracle drink throughout your day to ensure that your water needs are met even when your body isn’t telling you about it. Don’t wait till you’re exhausted beyond your wits to realize that you’re dehydrated because that’s usually the only time your body will tell you that it needs water.
Water Loss on an Active Lifestyle
Although there are no hard and fast figures of how much water your body loses as you workout, it is important to understand how exercising causes water loss and there are a few factors to take into consideration for that. When you exercise your body, it burns fat or calories to create energy that will power it through what you demand from it. This causes your core temperature to rise. As your body heats up, to maintain homeostasis, the body starts to perspire (or sweat), releasing water from your glands to allow the body to cool down.
The tougher you work your body out, the more your heart rate rises and the more this temperature rises as well. The hotter the environment you’re working out in is, the more your body temperature will rise. The more unfit you are, the more effort will be demanded from your body causing it to work harder and heat up more. Considering all these factors and their relationships, you can understand how water loss is a major consequence of working out and replenishing your body after such exertion is paramount.
So, How Much Water Should You Drink?
While drinking as much as that which satiates the thirst is a great way to go, that, unfortunately, is just not enough. There is no hard and fast rule as to how much you should drink on the drop, but according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, adult men should consume 3.7 liters of water a day and adult women should take in about 2.7 liters. Water expulsion and water consumption will directly vary depending on body composition and activity level, but on average those amounts researched are considered to be the average needs for daily water consumption, surveying a range of active and sedentary men and women.
Health agencies, though, advise that people follow the 8×8 rule: drink 8 8-ounce glasses throughout the day. This amounts to 2 liters of water a day. Although this is less than the average amount shown through NASEM’s research, this is considered to be the bare minimum needed for a sedentary lifestyle. If you find that you are active, working out, or exhausting yourself with other strenuous tasks, supplement this 2-liter minimum suggestion with as much water as your body needs. This is where the “drink as much as your thirsty” rule comes into play: after you’ve already taken in the minimum requirement.
Drinking all 2 liters (or 3.7 / 2.7 liters) at the same time is not advised though. It is important to space the intake out throughout the day, and it is found that particular times of the day prove more effective for water consumption than others. Read When Should You Drink Water To Maximize Its Effectiveness to slurp down your mugs at the most beneficial times.