How Much Water Do You Need?
The short answer – yes, you can drink too much water.
64 ounces a day, though some debate that. I stick to it. For each caffeinated drink and alcoholic beverage, both of which are dehydrating, add any additional 8 ounces of water to your daily intake to adequately rehydrate yourself.
Certain medications, like decongestants, dehydrate you and require you to drink more water when taking them. Be sure to read the labels. You will also need additional water during times of illness or when exercising, both of which can cause perspiration, releasing sweat from the body. On the flip side, drinking too much water is an equal concern.
When Does the Body Need More than Water?
When you perspire your body may need more than water. During perspiration the body excretes sodium along with other electrolytes. The amount of water in the body directly affects levels of electrolytes.
If we keep replenishing our bodies with water when our electrolytes are low or out of balance, the water will continue to in effect, “dilute” the electrolytes that remain in the system – not good. Overtaxing the body by drinking too much water drains the adrenals and kidneys as well, so drink the amount of water you truly need. Like everything, the key is balance.
Four main electrolytes that we need to keep in balance are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium (though there are others). These four minerals all play an important role in the health and performance of our muscles. They play a critical role in healthy heart function, because after all, the heart is a muscle. Electrolyte imbalance can cause:
- Swelling, slowed breathing and abdominal cramping
- Nausea, weakness, muscle aches and diarrhea
- Excessive thirst, dry mouth, dark-colored urine and muscle twitching
- Increased urination and weakness
- Dizziness, heart palpitations, and overall fatigue
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or if you’re having unexplained seizures or excessive muscle twitching, it is recommended that you ask your doctor to test you for electrolyte imbalances. He/she can test either your urine or blood for imbalances of potassium, sodium and calcium. For more details check out this site.
What Drinks Replenish Electrolytes Quickly? What Exactly Is In Them?
Here’s some I looked at:
- Gatorade G2: A “reduced sugar” product that has 5.5 g of sugar (1.5 teaspoons) per 8 ounce serving. One 20 ounce bottle is 12 g of sugar (3 teaspoons). Look out though, they sneak sucralose in there, which is a manufactured, unnatural, 0 calorie sugar (Splenda).
- Unlike many of the other beverages that contain electrolytes in addition to Potassium, Gatorade contains sodium, which depending on your diet you may or may not need. Many people lose a lot of sodium in sweat so if you are an athlete, work outside in the heat, and/or eat a very low sodium diet, you may need it.
- Propel: another Gatorade product that contains sodium and potassium. Low in calories with only 4 g of sugar per bottle, it’s sweetened with sucralose and sugar.
- Vitamin Water: Has taken a much deserved beating for providing 33 g of sugar and 125 calories per 20 ounce bottle. As a response, the company came out with its “zero” version which uses stevia as the sweetener. As we know, stevia is natural/plant-based, and has no effect on blood sugar. Many people, however, don’t love the taste. In terms of electrolytes, Vitamin Water provides the potassium, but not the sodium.
- SoBe Lifewater: has calcium and potassium along with other vitamins and is sweetened with stevia. Some flavors contain sodium.
- Voosh: has all of the electrolytes except sodium plus a lot of sugar – 33 g (8 teaspoons) of sugar per bottle. OUCH!
- Lifewater: has the calcium and sodium and no potassium or magnesium, and contains 25 g (6 teaspoons) of sugar per bottle. WHOA!
- For better electrolyte drink options read my follow up blog Healthy Fitness Drinks Exist.
The Bottom Line on “Fitness Drinks”?
- Read labels and know what you’re putting in your body.
- Be conscious of the amount of sugar that you are choosing to ingest, and adjust the rest of your daily intake accordingly. Sucralose? Not for me.
- Only drink “fitness drinks” with electrolytes when truly needed – if you are vigorously exercising, working outdoors in the heat or experiencing illness, all of which can cause a great deal of perspiration and electrolyte imbalance. Pay attention to your symptoms, to what your body is telling you, and adjust what you put in it.
- Only drink the amount needed. Just because it comes in a 20 ounce bottle doesn’t mean you have to drink 20 ounces. Perhaps 10 ounces is enough to replenish your electrolytes.
- You can get electrolytes from food. Eat foods high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, (through whole grains, veggies, and fruits) and add some sodium in the form a high quality mineral sea salt to help restore balance.
I’m Bored With Water -Can I Make It More Exciting?
I get bored with water, too. It’s important, however, to avoid the old sugar trap. It can undo your day and your diet, adding a large amount of extra calories, translating into pounds. Some suggestions:
Add citrus to your water
We have all had lemon water, but perhaps we’ve forgotten how refreshing it is. In addition, lemon is a great detoxifier, it supports the liver in processing fats, and its pungent flavor can help deter sugar cravings. If you prefer lime, or orange to mix it up, that’s fine, too. But lemon has the greatest health benefits.
Make your own Not-So Sweet Sweet Tea
- Choose teas that are less strong and need less sweetening, like Herbal and green teas.
- Herbal teas are naturally caffeine free and green tea has a decaf option.
- Many herbal teas have medicinal qualities and health benefits, as does green tea, touted for its high level of antioxidants.
So, you can actually make yourself a not-so-sweet sweet tea that can support your specific health needs by wisely selecting a combination of herbal and green teas. Check out my recipe for one of my favorites, Not-So-Sweet Tea.
Add cucumber to your water
Cucumber is naturally cooling and refreshing to the body. It’s very cleansing and refreshing in the heat.
Add a high-quality 100% fruit juice to your water
- Begin with a high quality 100% juice
- Add 2 TBS of fruit juice to your 16 ounce glass of water.
- Use different juices in your water to change the flavor and keep your palate satisfied
- Keep the sugar content limited.
Keep in mind, however, that if you do this for all 64 ounces of your water a day, you will have ingested 8 ounces of juice. Even 8 ounces of a high quality 100% fruit juice will contain about 100 calories and a significant amount of sugar.
If you are making a shift from soda, and this is how you need to do it, this is certainly a better option. And if you’re going to drink a glass of fruit juice a day, and it’s going to be included in your water, just know that it’s accounted for so that you don’t intake too much sugar. Ideally, this should not be your standard way of drinking water. Rather, just another way to mix it up once in a while, or once a day.
Get that 64 ounces in you each day, with as little sugar as possible. Each step you take towards that is something to be celebrated. When our bodies are younger they can compensate for dehydration, but as enter our 40s and 50s things like high blood pressure, aging skin, achey muscles and joints, fatigue, low energy, headaches, weight gain, electrolyte imbalance – and other issues begin to take shape, a number of which could be avoided simply by drinking your 64 ounces of water.
Aging doesn’t have to equal that laundry list of issues. The choices you make today directly affect your health tomorrow. You are in charge of how you feel, and believe it or not, drinking your water will definitely affect your future health.