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Determining the Right Amount of Water for You
For many years, media and mainstream public health initiatives have advocated a standard daily intake of 64 ounces. Although this recommendation improves what many are practicing, it isn’t based on science. In fact, depending on a range of factors, individuals may be severely underhydrated if they only drink this much.
The truth is that your individual water intake needs will vary based on factors such as:
- Diseases or other health conditions
- Your body’s ability to process water
- Physical activity
- Sweat production
- Climate you live in
A good baseline to start with is based on the latest recommendation from the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). NAM recommends that men consume 125 ounces and women about 90 ounces, including fluid from water, other drinks, and foods. From this baseline, you can add more every few days until you experience diminishing returns.
Looking at the number of ounces your body needs may be daunting. Let’s dive into some easy strategies to make reaching your hydration goals as intuitive as possible.
1) Set Daily and Long-term Goals
After following the instructions from earlier, you should be armed with a personalized hydration number. A small but powerful strategy is to convert this number into a goal.
Frame this number as a daily goal you can aim for and track. Based on the literature, goal setting allows you to achieve short-term targets while helping you to develop a long-term discipline and practice that becomes intuitive.
When discussing this strategy, it’s important to note that setting short, medium, and long-term goals can help you gradually meet your hydration requirements. In the beginning, many people may find it hard to reach their ideal water goals right out of the gate. This is where incremental goal-setting will help.
2) Track Your Progress and Hold Yourself Accountable
Whether it’s using a notepad or an advanced app on your phone, having a way to keep track of your water intake from day to day is a measurable way to keep you accountable.
The use of convenient hydration or fitness apps on your phone makes drinking more water fun, with things like “streak” counters that reward you with badges and stickers for hitting your targets consistently. It’s a fun way to add motivation.
Chances are that finding ways to drink more water is tied to lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Logging your water intake into a fitness tracking app will help you hone in on your optimal intake, especially if you gradually increase your workout load.
Keeping accurate track of your intake from day to day can also help you identify why you might be feeling under the weather and better diagnose what it feels like when you are dehydrated in the future.
3) Consume Foods High in Water
The good news is that there is a way to increase your water intake without leveraging what you already do; eat. Incorporating foods with high water content is an elegant way to boost your hydration without always reaching for another glass of water to gulp down.
Examples of foods high in water include:
- Bell peppers
An added benefit is that these foods are often accompanied by additional nutrients and electrolytes that help retain hydration and enhance the effects of the water you consume.
4) Add Flavor
Ideal for people who dislike water, there are now multiple ways to make water more interesting by adding flavor. There are a few options to choose from. For those that prefer the most natural approach, placing slices of fruit or sprigs of herbs like oranges, lemons, or rosemary into your water bottle can do wonders.
For those that may not find it feasible to walk around with fresh orange slices or an assortment of herbs, there are liquid or powder flavorings you can toss into a purse or backpack. Highly concentrated, a few squirts can flavor as much as 32 ounces at a time. Many of these are chemical free and made using natural sweeteners like monk fruit or stevia.
Another great product to look out for is electrolyte mixes. Low in calories and all-natural, they come in the same size packets as the table sugar at your local diner. It’s a great way to get that fresh fruit-infused flavor with little hassle and the added benefit of an electrolyte hydration boost.
5) Purchase a Water Filter
While most water is safe to drink, water filters are a great way to put your mind at ease regarding water quality. If for no other reason, purchasing a water filter removes any potential roadblocks, whether logistical or mental.
Water filters are also a great way to keep costs down and convenience high. For a few dollars every few months, you can access hundreds of gallons of water by simply turning on your tap. No trips to the grocery store are needed.
Many people hesitate to reach for another water bottle because of the added waste. Water filters are one of the most eco-friendly ways to drink more water guilt free.
6) Establish a Schedule
Whether you drink water best in the morning, before meals, or during a workout or other activity, developing a schedule will be extremely helpful.
Clear, reusable water bottles are great for those looking for an analog way to get on a schedule. Using a permanent marker, mark lines at various points and assign at what time you should have consumed the water above it. For example, you could have a line halfway down the bottle with “3 pm” written next to it. Anything above that line would need to be consumed by 3 pm. Water bottles have lines already pre-marked for purchase with various retailers.
7) Be Intentional
One of the best ways to drink more water is to be intentional about making water accessible and visible. Placing water in high-traffic areas such as your office, kitchen counter, or vehicle can drastically reduce the barrier to drinking more water. For example, having a bottle of water by your bed makes it much easier to drink before you go to bed than if you had to trek to the kitchen and fill up a glass.
Being intentional about providing water in the most enjoyable form is also fantastic. Purchase a water bottle that keeps your water cold throughout the day. Keep a water pitcher in the fridge with a few slices of fruit already infused.
8) Set Reminders
Remember those neat hydration and fitness apps we mentioned? Many have features that send notifications when it’s time to drink more water or if you’re behind schedule. You can even do this using the recurring alarm feature on your phone.
Drinking more water can be a hard habit to develop. These reminders can be a tremendous step in accelerating the process of making it into a consistent habit.