On average, American adults consume 1.1 liters of water as a beverage per day, according to a 2005-2010 study on water and beverage consumption. We can get daily liquids from other beverages, but plain water is the healthiest choice. To get the many benefits of staying hydrated, how can YOU find creative ways to drink more water throughout your busy days?
Keep in mind that if you exercise regularly, hydration becomes trickier to manage. If you’re an active person or just want tips on how to get hydrated properly, this article is for you!
In this article, I’ll cover:
- The benefits of getting hydrated
- The best ways to find and track your hydration needs
- My top 5 tips and tricks to help you drink more water
BENEFITS OF HYDRATION
When you stay hydrated, your body does a bunch of awesome things for you! By drinking enough water and you’ll be at your peak performance, health, and productivity.
Proper water intake will help your body carry nutrients and oxygen to your cells, digest food well, stabilize blood pressure, protect joints, regulate body temperature, flush bad bacteria out of your body, and much, much more!
Is Your Hydration Status Poor?
BENEFITS OF DRINKING MORE WATER
- Increased energy
- Improved mood, focus, and cognitive function
- It can help you lose weight
- Healthier digestion and regular poops
- Improved athletic or exercise performance
- Better recovery from exercise
- Lower risk of injury and reduced joint pain
DRINKING MORE WATER FOR BODY CHANGE GOALS
If you have body composition goals like weight loss or lowering body fat, drinking more water can help!
A 2013 study, “Effect of Water Induced Thermogenesis on Body Weight,” showed a significant decrease in body weight, body mass index, and body composition scores of overweight subjects who during the study were instructed to drink 500 ml (approx. two 8 ounce glasses) of water, 3 x times per day before meals.
Researchers of the study noted these reasons for water affecting body change:
- “Water is essential to metabolize stored fat into energy, so much so that the body’s metabolism can be slowed down by relatively mild levels of dehydration.”
- Drinking water increases metabolic rate.
- Water is a natural appetite suppressant.
HOW MUCH WATER DO YOU NEED TO GET HYDRATED?
If you eat a decent amount of veggies, fruit, and other water-containing foods like yogurt or my favorite overnight oats, you’ll already be about one-third of the way to your water goals.
For sedentary or only lightly active people who make healthy food choices, eight glasses per day(approximately 2 liters) should be sufficient in most environments.
However, with higher daily activity, you will probably need a liter or so more than the standard recommendation.
If you're an active person, your water needs increase. On days you exercise, don't trust your thirst to guide you - it's inaccurate. Click To Tweet
A 2018 study on planned drinking vs. drinking to thirst found that athletes and exercises should not rely on thirst to guide them in certain environments and activities such as…
- Short duration exercise of less than 60 min
- Exercise in cooler conditions
- Lower-intensity exercise
- Exercise or activity of more than 90 min, particularly in the heat
- Higher-intensity exercise with a high sweat rate (like “kettlebell quickies“)
- Athletic performance-based training
If you exercise, especially in hotter climates, use this guideline:
- One liter throughout the day with some added water at mealtimes
- A liter before & during workouts
- Another liter after exercise
It’s important to note, if you’re pregnant, you’ll need about one extra liter of water per day as well.
The last exception is for older populations. Your thirst mechanism decreases with age, so those over 65 will need to pay special attention to how much water they drink each day.
Finally, you can overdo it and drink too much water, as Harvard Health explains, “It’s possible to take in too much water if you have certain health conditions, such as thyroid disease or kidney, liver, or heart problems; or if you’re taking medications that make you retain water, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opiate pain medications, and some antidepressants.”
To avoid over-hydrating, you should never drink so much water that you gain weight beyond your normal hydrated state.
TRACK HYDRATION BY URINE COLOR
When you can’t trust your thirst, one of the simplest and more accurate ways to tell if you are hydrated is to go by the color of your pee!
Except for your first morning trip to the toilet, your urine should be translucent with a slight yellow hue, not anywhere close to an orange or brownish hue.
When using the hydration pee color chart, aim for a mellow yellow that’s translucent.
Are your peeing clear? You may have been drinking too much water (or consuming alcohol), in which case you are flushing out valuable electrolytes. Instead, you want a slight yellow tinge of color to your pee.
When taking vitamins like C and B, you’ll notice a bright yellow color. There’s no harm here as long as it’s not a murky darker color.
QUICKLY CALCULATE YOUR ACTIVITY WATER NEEDS
Need to know how much water to bring with you on a hike, walk, or bike ride?
CamelBak has a cool calculator that helps you determine how much water you need for maximum performance in a specific activity and duration.
1. MOBILE APP HYDRATION TRACKING
Do you like to play video games? Are you tech-savvy and enjoy a challenge? Try a mobile app that helps you drink more water!
Here’s two client-tested and approved apps to help you hydrate:
- It lets you know how much water to drink daily with an intake calculator, tracker, and reminder based on your sex, weight, and activity level.
- Smart and customized notification and reminders
- Graphic display of your hydration level, daily consumption, and hydration history.
- Keep your “pet’ plant alive by hitting your water goals!
- Every time you drink a cup of water, your plant will also absorb the water. Then it will keep growing up.
- Recommendations for how much water to drink based on individual body data and exercise habits.
- Reminders of when to drink water
- “Unlock” different plants when you hit hydration goals!
2. WATER BOTTLES THAT INCREASE DRINKING
Want a screen-free reminder to stay hydrated? Having a quality, functional, or inspirational water bottle can help.
Motivational Water Bottles
Get a water bottle that inspires you to push on, like this BPA Free Sports Drinking Bottle with built-in motivation markers.
Functional High-Quality Water Bottles
I never thought I’d be a water bottle snob, but a few years back a client got me a Hydro Flask for a Holiday gift, and I was blown away by the difference in quality. I use it daily to hit my water goals.
Personally, I like the sippy lid add-on as it’s more spill-proof and easy to drink out of when exercising.
The double-insulated design of the Hydro Flask ensures that there are no drink circles left on my work desk, and it keeps cold beverages hot and cold beverages cold, which is awesome for winter and summer!
3. SUPERCHARGE YOUR WATER
Don’t like the taste of water? Prefer a cup of coffee in the morning or afternoon?
Well, you’ll be happy to know that it’s a myth that caffeinated beverages are dehydrating because they make you urinate. They do make you pee, but the water from these beverages still leads to a net positive contribution to total fluid consumption over the day.
However, water is still the healthiest choice and should be your main beverage if you care about your health and fitness goals.
Too many sugary drinks (or sugar of any kind) can lead to weight gain and inflammation and an increased risk of diabetes and other diseases.
Caffeine can affect your sleep and make you jittery and unfortunately, a tequila shot isn’t your most hydrating choice either.
While alcohol is fun, it can impair your judgment and make you think that french fries and a double cheeseburger are a healthy choice at 2 am.
Make water taste more appealing by adding lemon, mint, cucumbers, or berries (lower in sugar than most fruit) to the water to make it more palatable.
EAT MORE WATER WITH HEALTHY CHOICES
Did you know you can increase your hydration level from what you eat!
This 2013 study evaluated the consumption of plain water, tap and bottled, and total water intake among US adults. According to the study, we get approximately 17-25% of our water intake from food!
While food can’t take the place of proper water consumption, it can add to your overall water intake if you eat lots of fresh veggies and fruits and avoid processed foods.
WHAT ABOUT SPORTS DRINKS?
Sports drinks might be popular, but most are no better than a soft drink. It’s not necessary to chug a sugary drink just because you broke a little sweat. Plain water is fine for an average gym goer’s 30-60 minute workout.
However, if you are drinking filtered tap water, you will benefit in more ways than just sports performance and recovery by re-mineralizing your water. Like, this study which showed improved bowel health from drinking natural mineral water vs regular water.
SMART ELECTROLYTE OPTIONS
I like this supplement of Trace Mineral Drops, which you can easily add to filtered tap water to make it much more hydrating.
If you are an athlete or avid exerciser who does intense workouts of an hour or more, especially those in hot conditions, you’ll do well with an electrolyte supplement.
Depending on the activity and duration, you may need an electrolyte powder with some added sugar.
Lately, as I work out and train clients in my garage for longer periods in the Los Angeles summer heat, I’ve been enjoying these Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier electrolyte powder packets. They’re lower in sugar than Gatorade, have a better electrolyte profile, are portable, and are tasty. The strawberry flavor is my favorite.
4. WATER IN REACH TO STAY HYDRATED
This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but how will you remember to drink water if it’s nowhere in sight?
Keep water by your desk, by your bedside table at night, in the car, in your purse, etc. Anywhere that will help you remember to take a sip more often.
5. HABIT STACK YOUR “DRINK MORE WATER” GOAL
I touch on habit stacking in my 12 Way to Fitness Hack article (it’s number four on the list).
Healthy habit stacking is performing two (positive) actions at the same time. It’s easy to integrate a new behavior (drinking water) with the one you already have down pat.
Here are some habit stacking ideas to help stay hydrated:
- First thing in the morning, right before bruising your teeth
- Before and after a 10 min morning stretch
- When you stand up to take a screen break at work
- While taking a quick walk on your lunch break
- During exercise
- On a video call or in a meeting
- When hanging out with your cat
6. THE BEST TEMPERATURE FOR WATER WHEN EXERCISING
While exercising, water is best when consumed room-temp or maybe a tad cooler, but not very cold or iced. Why?
Water assimilates into your body best when it’s room temp. Click To Tweet
During workouts, if you notice water sloshing around, you probably have been drinking too much water or cold water. Drinking water that’s too cold can also cause side cramps when working out, which are no fun.
Okay, now you have all the hydration knowledge you need to get hydrated and stay hydrated.
Go sip some water and do badass things!
Il-Young Paik, Myung-Hyun Jeong, Hwa-Eun Jin, Young-Il Kim, Ah-Ram Suh, Su-Youn Cho, Hee-Tae Roh, Chan-Ho Jin, Sang-Hoon Suh. Biochem Biophys Res Commun; ( 2009 Apr 1) Fluid replacement following dehydration reduces oxidative stress during recovery. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.03.135. PMID: 19344695. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19344695/
Drewnowski A, Rehm CD, Constant F. BMC Public Health; (2013 Nov 12) Water and beverage consumption among adults in the United States: cross-sectional study using data from NHANES 2005-2010. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-1068. PMID: 24219567; PMCID: PMC3840570. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24219567/
Barry M Popkin, Kristen E D’Anci, Irwin H Rosenberg. Nutrition Reviews, Volume 68, Issue 8, Pages 439–458 (1 August 2010) Water, hydration, and health. https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/68/8/439/1841926
Lawrence E. Armstrong, Matthew S. Ganio, Douglas J. Casa, Elaine C. Lee, Brendon P. McDermott, Jennifer F. Klau, Liliana Jimenez, Laurent Le Bellego, Emmanuel Chevillotte, Harris R. Lieberman. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 142, Issue 2, Pages 382–388, (February 2012) Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/142/2/382/4743487
Bothe, Gordana et al. European journal of nutrition vol. 56,2 (2017): 491-499. Efficacy and safety of a natural mineral water rich in magnesium and sulphate for bowel function: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. doi:10.1007/s00394-015-1094-8 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5334415/
Vij, Vinu A, and Anjali S Joshi. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR vol. 7,9 (2013): 1894-6. Effect of ‘water induced thermogenesis’ on body weight, body mass index and body composition of overweight subjects. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2013/5862.3344 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3809630/
Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. (25 March 2020) How Much Water Should You Drink. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink
Hilary J. Bethancourt,W. Larry Kenney,David M. Almeida & Asher Y. Rosinger. European Journal of Nutrition 59, 3133–3148 2020. (27 Nov 2019) Cognitive performance in relation to hydration status and water intake among older adults, NHANES 2011–2014. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-019-02152-9
Preston R Harri, Douglas A Keen, Eleni Constantopoulos, Savanna N Weninger, Eric Hines, Matthew P Koppinger, Zain l Khalpey, John P Konhilas. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2019 Apr 4;16(1):15. Fluid type influences acute hydration and muscle performance recovery in human subjects. doi: 10.1186/s12970-019-0282-y https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30947727/
Robert W. Kenefick. Sports Med 2018; 48(Suppl 1): 31–37. (2018 Jan 24) Drinking Strategies: Planned Drinking Versus Drinking to Thirst. doi: 10.1007/s40279-017-0844-6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5790864/