Did you know that water is the only natural zero calorie drink, and even though about 60% of our bodies are made up of it, many people are still not drinking enough.
But how much should you be drinking, and how do you know if you’re drinking enough?
In the UK the NHS recommends that we should be drinking about 6 – 8 glasses a day (1.2 litres) of fluid every day to stop us getting dehydrated. However, if the weather is hotter, then this should be more. In the US the recommendations are that individual’s should that drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water a day (1.9 litres).
But, while there are some differences on the amounts we should be drinking, everyone agrees it is important for your health that you stay hydrated.
Do the pee colour check
So if you’re thinking “How do I know if I’m hydrated enough?” The answer could be right in front of you. Yes, in the colour of your pee!
Have a look at the chart below to use as a guide to see if you may need to drink more. If your pee colour is in the one to three range then you’re probably hydrated. But if it’s four or higher, then you might need to be drinking more.
There’s also a range of other benefits that you can get by staying hydrated. Some of these are:
It can help you lose weight
Drinking more water can increase your metabolic rate (burning more calories) and make you feel fuller. Additionally, you’ll use even more calories if the water is cold because you need extra energy to heat it up to body temperature. Some studies into the effect of drinking water showed that:
- You can burn up to an extra 96 calories per day by drinking 2 litres of water
- Drinking a pint of water can increase your metabolism by 24 – 30% for up to 1.5 hours
It may help relieve constipation
Do you remember that Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk said “Captain’s log…. extremely uncomfortable!” Well, if Captain Kirk had read this blog he would have known that not drinking enough water is linked with an increased risk of constipation, but that drinking enough water may relieve or even prevent it (especially if you are someone who doesn’t normally drink that much in the first place).
It may help your physical performance
When you’re in the gym or at an exercise class, you wouldn’t deliberately do something to stop you getting the best out of your workout! But if you’re not hydrated when you start, or don’t stay hydrated, then your physical performance might suffer, especially if you are someone who sweats a lot, or is working out at a high intensity or in a hot environment.
Even a loss of 2% of your body’s water content can have a negative impact on you performance. This can be things like making the exercise you’re doing seem harder than normal and making you feel tired mentally and physically. So always aim to keep hydrated and have access to water.
It can be helpful to manage hangovers
So, it’s the morning after the night before. You once again wake up with a hangover and make that promise to yourself that you will never drink that much alcohol again!
While this is not the main cause of your hangover, alcohol is a diuretic which can make you lose water and lead to dehydration. This will give you symptoms such as having a dry mouth, headache, tiredness and feel thirsty. To help prevent this you could aim to try and drink water between any drinks with alcohol in them while you’re out, and before going to bed, have a glass of water.
– M. Boschmann et al. Water-induced thermogenesis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2003, Dec, 88 (12), 6015-9.
– B. Davy et al. Water consumption reduces energy intake at a breakfast meal in obese older adults. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2008, Jul, 108 (7), 1236-9.
– K. Murakami1 et al. Association between dietary fibre, water and magnesium intake and functional constipation among young Japanese women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition volume. 2007, 61, 616–622.
– R. Hobson & R. Maughan. Hydration status and the diuretic action of a small dose of alcohol. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 2010, Jul, Vol 45, Issue 4, 366–373.
– B. Murray. Hydration and physical performance. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2007, Oct, (26), 542S-548S.