Health Tip #8 - Water

As many people are still working away at their New Year’s resolutions and preparing for spring breaks and the summer bikini season, it’s important to take a minute to focus on one of the most critical elements of fitness and wellness - staying hydrated! Our recent health tip posts covered the five categories of My Plate. Today, we’re talking about water, another major component of a balanced diet!

Water, although it doesn’t provide any calories, is a vital component of your daily intake. Drinking enough water is proven to increase energy levels and promote brain function. During exercise, it also helps regulate body temperature and provide lubrication for your joints. It is a component of almost every metabolic process in your body and even makes up about 60% of your body!

Bonus: Consuming adequate water also helps promote a healthy weight! Drink 2 cups (16 oz) of water before each meal to boost your metabolism and curb your cravings.

How much do you need? You’ve probably heard the typical drink 8 glasses of water per day, right? Well, while this will probably be enough to keep the average healthy adult* functioning, it’s somewhat arbitrary. A petite gal is not going to need as much water as a large man. That just makes sense. Your size makes a difference in how much water you need. There are other factors to take into consideration too, including physical activity and any diuretic intake (mainly supplements). 

A simple way to figure how much water you need is to multiply your body weight (in pounds) by .67 to get how many ounces to consume at baseline. Then add about 10-12 ounces for every 30 minutes you exercise and sweat. For example, a 160-pound individual who exercises for 45 minutes per day would need to consume about 125 ounces of water per day. Hydration is especially important for exercise when you’re losing fluids through sweat and peak performance/focus is crucial. Drink water before, during and after your workouts.

The easiest ways to tell if you’re staying hydrated enough include the following:

  1. PEE!!! If you maintain a light yellow urine - the darker your urine, the more concentrated it is/the less hydrated you are (or you recently had vitamins and they went right through you)
  2. PEE!!! If you need to go #1 about every 1-3 hours
  3. If you don’t feel thirsty, because thirst is one of the first signs your starting to get dehydrated. So Drink before you feel thirsty.

Sources: While plain water is the best source, many other food and beverage sources provide water too. Coffee and tea are other common fluid sources. Most food contains water too; Mainly fruits and vegetables, but also meat, fish and eggs. When choosing your beverages, choose mostly beverages that are calorie-free and/or nutrient dense without added sugars. Limit your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, including soft drinks, fruit drinks that are less than 100% fruit juice and sports drinks.

Not a big fan of plain water? Try some of my favorite infusions. Mix in some of these with your next glass of water or store these with water in a pitcher in your refrigerator:

  • Basil + strawberries
  • Mint + lime
  • Apples + cinnamon (also good for promoting insulin sensitivity)
  • Vanilla + orange
  • Sage + blackberries

So, now let’s talk about diuretics. Diuretics are a chemical that causes your body to lose water. Diuretics include caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea. It is not true that consuming these two do not count toward your daily water intake. They do! Diuretic supplements, such as lasix or Diurex, are different. The use of a diuretic, along with many health conditions, required monitoring of fluid balance. If you are taking a diuretic supplement or are unsure of your health condition consult your Physician and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for your personalized needs.

In summary, a balanced diet is only complete with appropriate hydration. Take a minute to calculate your needs and implement some of today’s tips to help you stay hydrated and functioning at your best!

Intake challenge: The best way to stay hydrated is to keep water with you all day long. Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go and refill frequently. Track how much you drink in a day. If you exercised, did you drink before, during and after your exercise? Did you notice a difference in your energy levels or cognitive abilities by staying more hydrated?

For more ideas on how to incorporate tasty hydration into your lifestyle, contact me to set up your initial nutrition consultation today! Next health tip: fats - don’t miss it!

*These recommendations are for healthy adults (18-64 years of age) with 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.

Carly Cooley