It’s not a surprise that the average American doesn’t drink enough water each day.
With such a wide array of conveniently available flavored beverages to choose from–fruit juices, coffee drinks, sodas, and many more–many people just don’t make room for their daily allotment of water, because they’ve already drank their fill of other things.
And some people (like me) just flat-out don’t like the taste of it. But getting your daily ration of water is very important to overall health and well-being. Not drinking enough water can put your health at risk!
WATER SERVES A NUMBER OF PURPOSES IN YOUR BODY:
- it helps keep your appetite in check
- keeps your metabolism and circulation active
- keeps energy levels up
- helps flush toxins out of your system
- keeps muscles supple and mucous membranes moist
- helps prevent feelings of weakness/soreness, or headaches
Drinking your daily quota–and staying healthy in the process–is easier than you may think!
HOW MUCH SHOULD I BE DRINKING?
A popular rule of thumb is to drink an 8-ounce glass of water 8 times a day–adding up to about 2 liters. And, this is pretty close to what the average adult needs. But, studies indicate the actual number is somewhat higher–about 10 glasses of water a day for a woman (around 2.2 liters or so), and 12 or more for a man (approximately 3 liters!).
Try to drink no less than 8 glasses of water a day, but aim higher if you can.
Of course, if you’re physically active, you’ll need to drink more than this in order to make up for the fluids you’ll lose from sweat and activity, as well as to help circulate your recovery nutrition to your spent muscles and tissue.
Depending on your level of physical activity, you’ll want to increase your fluid intake by at least 50% to 75%–possibly more.
Also, don’t be afraid to adjust your fluid intake based off other lifestyle and environmental factors, too! If you live in a hot environment, then you’ll need more fluids, even if you don’t exercise much.
WHAT SHOULD I DRINK?
Of course, the best way to get your water is by drinking actual water, as opposed to other types of beverages.
Most beverages are composed primarily of water, but also tend to have a lot of extra ingredients–and calories–that may not be beneficial to your long-term health. (In fact, many people get as much as 400-500 calories each day just from drinks from the artificial sweeteners.)
So really, drinking actual water is the best way to go. Of course, that can be boring or unpleasant for some people. Luckily, there’s a lot of options to help you reach your quota:
- If you don’t like the taste of tap, but like the taste of bottled/spring water, try buying a water filter device (like a Brita). You’ll save a lot of money versus buying bottled water!
- Add a twist of lemon or some other citrus to make your water more palatable.
- You can also use artificially sweetened packets to flavor your water. The jury’s still out on the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on the human body, but most research indicates it’s safe to use in moderation. A single packet can flavor up to 20 ounces or more of water, so you don’t need to use too much.
- Fruit juices have lots of water as well as other nutrients, but also tend to have lots of calories and sugar.
- Milk also has a large amount of water, but tends to have a fair amount of calories and fat as well. Plus, some people don’t digest it very well.
- Soda has water too, but very little nutritional value, and lots of calories and sugar. Don’t be afraid of a little soda here and there, but I would recommend NOT counting soda towards your daily fluids, just because you probably ought to drink a little extra water to help flush the processed ingredients out of your system more efficiently.
- Sports drinks contain lots of water, as well as calories, sodium, and sugar–nutrients that are useful for people who are physically active, but can also contribute to weight gain if you’re not careful.
- Most food contains at least a little bit of water–fruits and vegetables contain a lot. You can’t get your daily fill of water from food alone, but it can help contribute.
CAN IT HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT?
Sort of. Water, by itself, doesn’t magically burn weight.
However, it also has no calories; if you replace beverages such as soda, coffee, or even fruit juice with water, then you’ll reduce your caloric intake by a couple hundred calories a day–remember that 3,500 calories equals 1 pound. You can lose a couple pounds a month just by drinking water more often and cutting back on other types of drinks!
Also, water helps keep your appetite in check, which can prevent you from eating more than you need. Sometimes, feelings of hunger can feel similar to feelings of thirst or dehydration; if you think you need a snack, try chugging some water instead. It’s possible that you’re just thirsty. And, even if you’re not, water can help keep you feeling full until it’s time for a proper meal.