Updated: Oct 14, 2020
While you may not be able to determine an exact number of glasses that will ensure you remain perfectly hydrated at all times, there are some key steps you can take to keep you out of the dehydrated zone.
Don't Let Yourself Get Thirsty
The best indicator that you need to drink water? Thirst, says Dr. Sears. “The reason you have a sensation of thirst is because the lack of water alters the balance of salt in the blood and this imbalance causes a cascade of effects resulting in the desire (i.e. thirst) for greater hydration.”
Essentially, thirst is a symptom of dehydration.
“Our thirst sensation doesn’t really appear until we are 1 [percent] or 2 percent dehydrated. By then dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform,” says Lawrence E. Armstrong, one of the studies’ lead scientists, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut and an international expert on hydration who has conducted research in the field for more than 20 years. “Dehydration affects all people, and staying properly hydrated is just as important for those who work all day at a computer as it is for marathon runners, who can lose up to 8 percent of their body weight as water when they compete.”.
“Your thirst sensation doesn't really appear until we are 1 or 2 percent dehydrated. By then dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform.”
If you feel thirsty, it’s your body’s way of saying it’s dehydrated, says Kleiner. “Other signs of dehydration include altered mood, dry eyes, headaches or dizziness, muscle cramping, fever or lack of sweat.”
2. Check Your Urine Color for Tell-Tale Signs
There really is no magic number or formula for how much fluid you need every day, but the color of your urine is a pretty good indicator of where you stand on the hydration scale. “If your urine is colorless or pale yellow, you’re likely drinking an adequate amount of water," says Kleiner. "Mild dehydration may show itself in the form of bright or dark yellow urine. If your urine is darker than pale yellow or you’re feeling thirsty, then you need to drink some water.”
Sears agreed: “The best way [to tell if you're hydrated] is the color of your urine. If it's very pale in color, you are probably hydrated. The darker the color of the urine, the greater the hydration you require.”
3. Reach for Foods With High Water Content
One thing most of us fail to recognize is that our water intake isn’t only coming in a glass — the foods we eat make up a large chunk of our intake. “What wasn’t adapted was the part of the recommendation that suggested that most of this 2.5 liters would come from foods,” says Kleiner.
In fact, according to Kleiner about 20 percent of our total water intake comes from the food we eat. “Many vegetables and fruits are mostly comprised of water (some are more than 90 percent water), which really helps to contribute to our fluid intake and keep us hydrated,” she says. “And, all of those other beverages we consume (like milk, juice, beer, wine, even coffee, tea and soda) contribute to our fluid intake. But, don’t forget, other beverages (aside from water) contain calories.”
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