10 Easy Ways to Drink More Water
We’ve all heard we should be drinking water—at least 8 cups a day—but why is it so hard sometimes to make sure we get that much? And does it really make a difference?
If we’re moving at a fast pace or have a lot on our minds, we may not make time to actually think about water and before we know it, the day is over and we remember having some, but probably not enough.
With a few easy, intentional tips you can make water a more natural part of your day, hopefully experience its benefits and be better fueled to take on life.
Why Water Matters
“Our brains, lungs, heart, liver and kidney contain the wettest tissue — between 65 and 85 percent water,” NPR reports.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, water helps your body:
- Keep your temperature normal
- Lubricate and cushion joints
- Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
- Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements
More water benefits:
- Increases energy
- Boosts immune system
- Hydrates skins and improves complexion
- Promotes weight loss. This is because water helps get rid of waste and decreases appetite. Sometimes when you’re hungry you’re actually thirsty, so try water first.
How Much Water to Drink
When we talk about drinking water, we don’t mean just any water. Filtered water is best since tap water could have pesticides, chemicals and other contamination from metal or plastic pipes, even in so-called “green buildings.”
The general rule of thumb is 8 (8-ounce) cups per day, so 64 ounces. But some water recommendations call for more. Plus, water intake varies by person and lifestyle.
For people age 19 and older, The Institute of Medicine recommends the following total water consumption (from foods or drinks containing water):
- 13 cups of water per day for men
- 9 cups of water per day for women
- Girls and boys between ages 4 and 8 years should drink 40 ounces per day (five cups).
- Kids 9 to 13 years old should drink 56 to 64 ounces (7 to 8 cups)—more for the older kids.
- Kids 14 to 18 years old should drink 64 to 88 ounces (8 to 11 cups)—more for the older kids.
You may need to drink more water if you:
- Consume things that dehydrate you, like caffeine and alcohol
- Exercise. An extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water each day is recommended. You may need even more if you work out more than an hour or sweat a lot.
- Are in a hot climate. Hello, LA summer!
- Are pregnant.
- Live at an elevation greater than 8,200 feet above sea level.
- Have a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. Your body loses a lot of fluids during these times. If you’re sick after a night of drinking, ditch the coffee and reach for some water or something with electrolytes, like coconut water without added sweetener, that’ll better hydrate you.
A lot can happen when we don’t drink enough water. Our bodies are about 60% water—we get drier as we age—and need this fluid to properly function.
Without enough water you may experience:
- Weakness or lightheadedness
- Feeling tired
- Dry skin
- Darker colored urine/less frequent urination (this is usually a tell-tale sign to drink water ASAP)
Drinking too much water
It’s also possible to drink too much water and that doesn’t look pretty either. Overdoing it can throw off the balance of electrolytes (important nutrients like sodium, potassium and magnesium) in our body.
“When a person drinks too much water in a short period of time, the kidneys cannot flush it out fast enough and the blood becomes water logged,” Scientific American notes.
In serious cases of water intoxication, symptoms include:
- Frequent urination
- Mental disorientation
In extreme cases, people have died drinking a large amount of water in a short time.
As always, listen to your body.
How to Drink More Water
Whatever your water needs are, here are some easy ways to help you hydrate so you can function, feel better and be ready to crush your day.
- Make water taste better. Mango mint water, anyone? A whole website is dedicated to infused water with recipes and products that make it easier to make and tote around.
- Get a fun, functional water bottle and keep it in sight so you’ll be reminded to drink more water. Perhaps get one water bottle for work and one for the gym or working out to ensure you always have one on hand. Glass and steel bottles are best since plastic can leach into your water and BPA-free plastic is still questionable.
- Set an alarm. Set alarms/reminders on your phone for throughout the day to remind you to drink a certain amount of water, like one cup every hour and a half.
- Let your water bottle do the work. Get a clear water bottle with measurements for ounces or cups clearly marked on it, so you know how much you’re drinking, or mark your water bottle yourself, a dietitian suggests. Make mini goals to drink a certain amount of water by certain times each day; you can even get a fun water bottle decal to remind you. Or let a high tech water bottle keep track.
- Drink 16 ounces (2 cups) of water before each meal. Since this is tied to the daily habit of eating meals, it’ll hopefully be easy to do. This can help with weight loss too, since you feel more full and aren’t confusing hunger with thirst.
- Use an app. If we’re going to look at our phones, we might as well use them to help us hydrate. Here are 5 apps to help you drink more water.
- Order water at restaurants. Some restaurants don’t bring water unless you request it, so ask for some and keep up on the refills. For added taste, ask for a slice of lemon.
- Have at least one cup of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume. This is always a good rule of thumb since alcohol dehydrates you. Try one cup of water for every caffeinated drink you have too.
- Create a challenge. Create a fun water drinking challenge with friends or co-workers (remember not to overdo it) or have an accountability buddy you can check in with. See who can come up with the most effective or creative way to help you drink enough H2o.
- Enjoy hydrating foods. You can get extra water during meal time by enjoying foods like watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, celery, greens and more. You can even make a hydrating smoothie. Electrolyte foods like bananas, almonds and even pickles will help replenish you too.
(Thumbnail Photo Credit: fizkes)
Jessica Hamlin is an LA-born and bred journalist and editor who started taking pictures of food back when everyone used film cameras. A graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s health coach training program, she’s passionate about wellness and enjoys making and discovering delicious and healthy food. Her work has appeared in Clean Plates, NPR affiliate KPCC, AOL, and Eater LA.