Water is one of the body's most essential nutrients and accounts for up to 75% of body weight.
Many people struggle to meet their daily fluid needs. The old advice is to drink 8 cups of water per day, but the reality is that everyone is different. Health, activity, gender, exposure to heat, and even what you eat can all impact how much water someone needs. Water serves important roles in our bodies and losing a small percentage of body fluid can lead to a drop in energy levels, weakness, poor mood, and physical performance. Staying well hydrated can help reduce your risk of kidney stones, urinary tract infections, headaches, and constipation.
Take your body weight and divide it in half. This is the amount of ounces you should strive for daily. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, your goal should be around 80 ounces per day (10 cups). Exercise and a diet plan may change these needs.
If you are an athlete or do strenuous exercise you would need to increase your fluid intake to account for losses through sweat. If this describes you, it is recommended to take your body weight and multiply that by 0.66 and that will give you the amount of ounces per day. So, for our 160-pound person above, they would need 106 ounces of fluid per day (13 ¼ cups).
20% of our fluid needs come from food sources such as fruits, vegetables, soups, grains and dairy products, the other 80% comes from beverages. Our 160-pound person above, needs 64 oz. of fluids (8 cups) from beverages and the rest from their healthy diet. Carbohydrate foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are high in water content.
In low carbohydrate diets, you may need to increase your fluids from beverages because you aren’t consuming as many foods with a high water content and because this diet naturally results in loss of water weight. High-fiber diets are also advised to increase their fluid intake. Fiber absorbs more water in the digestive tract, so the more fiber in your diet, the more fluid you should drink to help with digestion.
Monitor your hydration:
1. Urine Color: Your urine color first thing in the morning is a good indicator of hydration status. Lemonade-colored urine signals adequate hydration. Apple-juice colored urine indicates
dehydration. Vitamin supplements can turn the urine a bright color.
2. Sweat Loss: Change in body weight before and after exercise is used to estimate sweat loss. Weigh yourself prior to exercise and then again when finished. If you lose weight during exercise it should be replaced with 2-3 cups of fluids.
Simple ways to increase your water intake include carrying a refillable water bottle, adding slices of fruits or vegetables to water (such as lemon, lime, or cucumber), drinking a glass with every meal, keep water by your bed at night, and listening to your body.