Water. Your body is mostly water – about 60%! Arguably one of the most valuable resources on Earth, water is as essential to your ability to survive as air or food. But in our modern society it gets a whole lot of lipservice with folks mostly drinking sugary drinks.
Just. Plain. Water.
First and foremost – just drink water. Learn to develop a taste for it so that you crave it the way that you crave your favorite foods. Don’t sweeten it. Don’t add things to it to make it more palatable. Buckle down and decide to make a change. Anything else is really cheating and you’ll find yourself reaching again for that Coke (or Dr. Pepper or whatever). While sugary drinks do indeed count towards hydration, the hydrating benefits that you’re getting are not outweighed by the negative affects.
Diet drinks are as bad – because they trick your body. When you drink a diet anything your mouth is sending the message to your brain that you’re getting calories but then they don’t appear in your stomach. Your digestive system is easily confused so don’t try to play games with it. People who drink diet drinks actually tend to carry more extra weight than those who don’t.
Same goes for sports drinks. If you’re looking for electrolytes, check out my recipe for a homemade 0 calorie sports drink. You can certainly use sports drinks when you’re training, but don’t rely on them for hydration.
The only exception here is ice. There is some research that shows that cold water actually increases your metabolism. It can also make it more palatable if you’re not used to drinking water. I often put my metal water bottle in the fridge to get it really cold – I find that it’ll slake that craving for something sugary and sweet and carbonated.
The eternal question – how much? The conventional wisdom is 8, 8 ounce glasses per day. That’s 64 ounces. It’s kind of hard to vizualize that, so here’s an image for you.
That’s right, a two liter a day is roughly equivalent to eight, eight ounce glasses. How easy is that? Pretty easy I’d say. That’s a half gallon. It’s not much for a bare minimum.
While pregnant with my first child, my midwives instructed me to drink a gallon of water a day. WHAT?? A GALLON? That sounds like oh so much. They said that the lighter your urine, the better. In fact it’s was a point of pride to have it be almost completely clear. The darker your urine, the more unhealthy your hydration level. It’s really not that bad! At first you’ll feel like you’re constantly in the bathroom, but after a while your body will adjust. So my recommendation – twice the conventional wisdom if you want to be truly healthy. Aim for a gallon every day. Especially if you’re pregnant or nursing.
A gallon? How to get there.
- Get a good water bottle, one that you love, and keep it with you all of the time. Stainless steel, pretty design, whatever keeps you interested. Don’t rely on disposable bottles or glasses. Invest ten or twenty bucks in something you like – it’ll make all the difference.
- Drink on schedule at first. If your bottle holds a quart, then aim for a quart every five hours. If it holds a pint, then a pint every two and half hours. Down it at the end of your allotted time if you haven’t finished it yet.
- Good tasting water. My tap water tastes horrible, so I know I won’t drink if that’s all that’s available.
- Give yourself a week and see how you feel. You’ll notice that you’re more alert, awake and you feel better!