How many cups of water per day ensures that we’re properly hydrated? It’s a straightforward question with no clear answer.
The Institute of Medicine recommends 13 cups of water per day for men, and 9 cups of water per day for women. However, there are so many factors that affect individual water requirements that no two people need the same amount. The question then is not how many cups of water per day we all need but how many you need.
Importance of Daily Water Intake
Water is incredibly healing, both on the inside and out. When your body loses water, it also loses electrolytes, such as potassium, sodium and chloride. By the time you notice obvious signs of thirst, such as a dry mouth, lips or skin, your body is already dehydrated. Perhaps you feel more tired than usual, are dealing with a headache or occasional dizziness, or feeling weak. These are all symptoms of dehydration.
Another way to determine whether you’re getting enough water is by looking at your urine. The darker yellow your urine is, the more water you need. Your pee should be nearly clear.
Factors That Influence Hydration Needs
Your weight provides another way to estimate how many cups of water per day is right for your body. A good rule of thumb is to consume half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water. For exampl: If you weigh 150 pounds, this means you should be consuming 75 ounces (about 9.5 cups) of water per day. However, this short-cut still fails to take some factors into consideration.
Climate, perspiration levels, bowel movement frequency, diet and overall health can alter your water needs. Someone who tends to eat dry foods, such as bagels, pastas, nuts, grains, and dried fruit will require more water to compensate than someone who consumes a lot of water-containing foods such as raw fruits and vegetables. Also, those who consume alcohol will also require more water consumption as alcohol has a diuretic affect on the body. An active individual will lose a lot of water through sweat and will thus need to drink more water than someone who is relatively inactive.
How Many Cups of Water Per Day Do You Really Need?
The best advice is to feel it out, and instead of worrying about an exact amount, pay attention to your hydration habits. Sometimes it is hard to tell when you are thirsty or not. Here are some tips to getting enough water.
- Begin each day with 1 liter (just over 4 cups) of water to set the stage.
- Pay attention to “hunger” cues. Are you simply craving liquids?
- 30 minutes before lunch and dinner, drink 1 cup of water.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- While working out, have a water bottle nearby to sip as you go.
- Drink 1 cup of water in between alcoholic beverages.
- After a night drinking alcohol, down 1 liter of water before bed. This will help you to avoid a hangover as well!
- For every cup of coffee, drink 1 cup of water.
- Enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables juices – they can be counted as part of your daily water fix.
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