Proper hydration isn’t a summertime-only conversation; it’s a year-round commitment because consuming enough fluids is vital for maintaining every function of our bodies — from our brain to our muscles and organs, including our skin and heart. In fact, water makes up roughly 60% of our bodyweight. The good news is there are more ways to stay hydrated than drinking the standard recommendation of eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
Here, 10 tips to ensure proper hydration becomes nothing short of a way of life:
THIRST ISN’T THE ONLY SIGN OF DEHYDRATION
By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already mildly dehydrated. Beyond thirst, the color of your urine offers insight into your level of dehydration — the darker it is, the more dehydrated you are. Sticking to a hydration schedule is a good idea, especially for athletes. That way you plan your drinking into your day and don’t suffer from dehydration in the first place.
HUNGER IS A COMMON SIGN OF DEHYDRATION
Especially if you’re watching your weight, common advice is to drink a glass of water if you’re feeling hungry to see if you were simply dehydrated. Also, the more water you drink, the less room you have for consuming calories. Carry a water bottle with you during the day and keep a glass of water on your nightstand when you sleep so you have easy access to around-the-clock hydration.
STAYING HYDRATED IS IMPORTANT ON MANY LEVELS
On top of helping manage your appetite, staying hydrated keeps your body functioning efficiently. By avoiding dehydration, you can keep your energy levels up and regulate your mood. Also, when exercising, water helps keep muscles cool by circulating heat and also through sweat.
WATER ISN’T THE ONLY THIRST QUENCHER
Luckily, there are options beyond water to keep us hydrated. Beyond plain old water, you can also infuse water or try coconut water, sparkling water and even coffee.
FOOD CONTAINS WATER, TOO
In fact, 20% of our daily fluid intake comes from food. Think: water-rich fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, strawberries and, of course, watermelon. Also, soups and smoothies pack in the fluids.
GOOD PERFORMANCE REQUIRES HYDRATION
When hydration levels are low, performance suffers. Just a 2–3% level of dehydration results in reduced endurance and power. How you hydrate before, during and after a workout can make or break your performance.
SOMETIMES WATER ISN’T ENOUGH
Water alone doesn’t always cut it, especially during strenuous activity. You need to replenish your electrolytes to get enough sodium, which is an element of hydration. Try sports drinks, electrolyte tabs and even infusing water with fruit like melons, berries or citrus.
STAYING HYDRATED AIDS WEIGHT LOSS
A study showed the more water you drink, the fewer calories you consume — up to a 1/2 pound of weight loss per week. Also, drinking water has been shown to boost your metabolism, a study concluded drinking 16 ounces of water led to a temporary 30% spike in metabolism. While water is an obvious choice, tea, kombucha and even coffee are drinks that can help weight-loss efforts.
TRY TRACKING YOUR HYDRATION
By now, we know how important hydration is, so how exactly do we go about creating a healthy lifestyle habit? Some suggest tracking your hydration as you do food. Not only does it keep you accountable, it can highlight your patterns and the times you’re typically prone to falling short. Knowing the various hydration options available is another way to keep things fun and open your eyes to the many easy hacks that help you stay hydrated.
BEWARE OF DRINKING TOO MUCH WATER
Since most people struggle to drink enough water, the concern around drinking too much water seems unfounded, but it can happen leading to a condition called hyponatremia. The primary concern with drinking too much water revolves around low sodium levels, which is where electrolytes come in to play as this is more common in endurance athletes.
Determine your ideal hydration needs — The Institute of Medicine recommends a total fluid intake of 91 ounces for women and 125 ounces for men — then see how many days over the next 30-day period you can hit your target. Did you have fewer cravings? Were you more alert? Were your workouts better? Share your observations in the comments below. We want to hear from you!