Updated: Oct 15, 2020
What is so special about drinking water?
Water makes up about 60% of our body. Water is necessary for cells, tissue and organs to work properly in the body including temperature regulation, joint lubrication, perspiration, and bowel and bladder movements.
So how much should I drink?
According to The Mayo Clinic, the average adult needs 11.5-15.5 cups (2.7-3.7 liters) of fluids, with cisgendered males generally requiring more than cisgendered females.
How can I drink the amount of water I need?
Plain water is an easy, affordable, and readily available source of fluids, but other sources include fruits and vegetables like watermelon. Even solid foods have some amount of fluid in them.
Non-caffeinated coffees and teas are better options than juices and caffeinated sodas since they contain less calories and sugar. Also, caffeine is a diuretic which means it pulls water from inside your cells and increases urination which can lead to dehydration.
What if I do not want to count every glass of water I drink?
Your urine can help tell you if you are consuming enough fluids based on the color. Urine contains yellow pigments and fluids dilute these pigments. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can tell if you are drinking enough water examining your urine. If your urine is pale yellow to clear then you are probably consuming enough fluids. If your urine is more concentrated and dark yellow or even amber, you should try to consume more fluids. If you have blood in your urine, it is painful to urinate or the color is dark orange, you should seek medical attention.
Check out The Cleveland Clinic's infographic:
What about if I am exercising?
Physical activity and exercise, especially when performed in warmer temperatures can lead to increased fluid and electrolyte loss that needs to be replenished or can lead to heat exhaustion or muscle cramps.
According to researchers at the Department of Kinesiology and Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut, the body can lose between 0.8-1.0 liter of fluids from the sweat glands during each hour of moderate intensity exercise and up to 10 liters of sweat during more extreme competition environments such as an outdoor summer tennis tournament or collegiate or professional two-a-day workouts.
How can I get the electrolytes I need?
Water alone does not provide sufficient electrolytes, so eating sufficient calories throughout the day and using supplemental electrolytes (sodium and potassium) during long bouts of exercise may be necessary.
Here are some examples of foods with electrolyte content to offset losses in sweat and urine (adapted from National Agricultural Library):
Armstrong L, Casa D. Methods to Evaluate Electrolyte and Water Turnover of Athletes. Athletic Training and Sports Health Care. Published 2009.