Staying Hydrated This Summer and the Year ‘Round
As your body absorbs fluids from liquids and foods, it uses them to perform many essential body functions. For example, your body continuously uses water to carry nutrients and oxygen to cells, balance minerals such as salt in the blood and tissues, regulate electrical processes that affect the cardiovascular and nervous systems, promote cognitive function, cushion the joints, and remove wastes.1
Because your body uses water continuously, it is important to balance the fluids you consume with the water your body absorbs and eliminates. Maintaining an adequate amount of fluid in the body is important at all times, but it’s especially important to drink more fluids when you exercise. That’s because exercising increases breathing and sweating as well as other processes such as the removal of body wastes, which eliminate fluids from the body.1
HOW MUCH WATER IS ENOUGH?
Although the amount of water you need depends on your age, gender, body size, diet, health, medications, level of activity, and climate, most people need approximately 9 to 13 cups of fluids per day. In addition, you should consume 4 to 6 ounces of water for every 15 minutes of activity. If you exercise intensely, outside in hot (humid or dry) weather, or at a high altitude, you will need more fluids.2,3
Drinking fluids with your meals and eating a healthy diet
are fundamental to getting enough water,
but most people also must drink fluids between meals
to maintain a healthy balance in the body.
One way to check whether you’re getting enough fluid is to check your urine. If you’re in good health and you aren’t taking medications that may change the color of urine, it should be pale yellow. If, however, your urine is dark yellow or if you urinate less than 4 times per day, you probably need more fluids.4
Thirst is your body’s signal that you need fluids. Experts from the Institute of Medicine recommend drinking water when you are even mildly thirsty.1
To calculate how much water you use when exercising, weigh yourself without clothing before and after you exercise. The difference in your weight indicates the amount of fluid you used and should restore.
Replenish the fluids you use during exercise
by drinking during and after exercising.
DRINKS THAT HYDRATE
Although you may include caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, carbonated beverages, and energy drinks in your daily fluids total, they will likely increase the amount of water your body eliminates. If you enjoy caffeinated drinks, include water among your daily liquids to stay hydrated.5
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In addition to drinking water, you may get fluids you need with:
Almond / coconut water or milk
Fruit / vegetable juices and smoothies
If you’re exercising to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, choose sugar-free drinks, water, and seltzer to boost your fluids. Sugary drinks, including fruit juices, tend to be high in calories (100 or more calories for 8 ounces), so avoid them entirely or include them in the total number of calories you consume with consideration for the number of calories you must burn to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.6
FOODS THAT HYDRATE
Fruits and vegetables also are a good source of fluids. Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), clementines, grapes, kiwis, mangos, melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon), nectarines, oranges, peaches, pineapple, plums, and watermelon are among juicy fruits that can help quench your thirst after exercising.
Leafy greens such as endive, cabbage, kale, lettuce, and spinach as well as other vegetables, including asparagus, broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green beans, leeks, onions, peas, peppers, rhubarb, and squash also provide nutritious fluids.7
IN ADDITION TO PROTECTING YOUR HEALTH, DRINKING ENOUGH FLUIDS CAN:
Help manage weight
Drinking water and sugar-free liquids can help curb your hunger and prevent you from consuming excess calories from snacking8
Improve your complexion
Staying hydrated can help improve the look and feel of the skin because it plumps tissues of the skin (epidermis) and helps prevent your skin from looking saggy1
Improve circulation and other body processes, including kidney and bowel function1
Adolph EF. The metabolism and distribution of water in body and tissues. Physiol Rev. 1933. 13:336–371.
Lorenzo V. Doctor, how much should I drink? Nefrologia. 2014; 34(6):693-697.
Kim J, Yang YJ. Plain water intake of Korean adults according to lifestyle, anthropometric and dietary characteristics: the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2008-2010. Nutr Res Pract. 2014; 8(5):580-588.
Perrier ET, Bottin JH, Vecchio M, Lemetais G. Criterion values for urine-specific gravity and urine color representing adequate water intake in health adults. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017; 71(4):561-563.
Maughan RJ, Griffin J. Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review. J Hum Nutr Diet.
Tate DF, Turner-McGrievy G, Lyons E, et al. Replacing caloric beverages with water or diet beverages for weight loss in adults: main results of the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012; 95(3):555-563.
Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate. Institute of Medicine Panel on Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water, Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes Washington, DC. National Academies Press 2005.
Muckelbauer R, Sarganas G, Gruneis A, Muller-Nordhorn J. Association between water consumption and body weight outcomes: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013; 98(2):282-299.