Talking Water: Facts and Tips on Staying Hydrated
Did you know that the human body consists of 60 to 70 percent water? Our water levels affect everything from energy level to temperature regulation to muscle mass.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of Americans don't get the water they need. Most reports state the average American drinks less than 40 ounces of water daily, but most of the clients I see drink only one or two eight-ounce glasses a day. Many Americans are chronically dehydrated and experience headaches, lower energy levels, weakness and muscle cramps.
So how much water should you consume? Poll a group of experts, and you'll get a lot of conflicting recommendations. Some say drink half your body weight in water; others recommend eight glasses a day. You can find your magic number by monitoring your urine output. The darker the color, the more dehydrated you are (see urine chart below).
Ideally, your urine will be the color of lemonade. If you see an apple-juice tint, drink water immediately. A neon yellow tint is a sign of excreted nutrients, which are probably coming from a multi-vitamin or over-the-counter supplement. If you see any hint of red, consult with your doctor immediately.
To most people, we always recommend drinking more water immediately. We would love for everyone to consume eight to ten eight-ounce glasses of water daily, but that's extremely difficult for many people. Begin your lifestyle modification with baby steps. Record the number of ounces you're currently consuming. If you're below the recommended amount, add one or two glasses a day. You may feel bloated, but remember that you've deprived your body of its most essential nutrient for some time.
Start your new habit by following these seven tips every day.
1. Carry a water bottle to help track your progress.
2. Try flavoring your water with strawberries, lemons, limes, cucumbers or fruit that you enjoy.
3. Place a glass of water by your bed stand and drink it as soon as you wake up.
4. Roughly 20 percent of our water intake comes from food, so eat more hydrating foods like apples (86 percent water), cantaloupe (90 percent), pickles (92 percent), squash (94 percent), carrots (88 percent), broccoli (89 percent) and watermelon (92 percent).
5. Try to drink one glass of water before you work out.
6. Drink before you get thirsty. The moment your body registers dehydration, it has lost two percent of its total body weight. That's four pounds of water for a 200-pound person.
7. Make water your main source of hydration. If you chug sports drinks all day, you're adding unwanted calories from sugar that add to your waistline.