This is the million dollar question and there’s thousands of different opinions on this. Today I will give you my opinion based on some good research and also trial and error with both myself and my clients.
First off, What are the benefits of staying hydrated:
- Cognitive function- Our mind is much more clear when we are hydrated. We can avoid “brain fog” just by staying hydrated.
- Muscle Cramps and headaches- often times people experience a lot of headaches or even muscle cramps. This can be due to dehydration
- Better Performance- Just by staying properly hydrated we can improve our performance. Maybe this is a sport, or a workout, but it could also mean in our job or activities throughout the day.
- Hormone balance- If the body and mind are properly hydrated they run much more efficiently. A lot of this has to do with hormones staying at optimal levels.
All of that is great, but how do we achieve this? Well there are a lot of variables that go into hydration. How much do we weigh, how much physical activity are we doing, are we the type of person that sweats a lot, temperature levels. All these play a big role in how much water we should take in.
Now try and think about hydration as replacing fluids and electrolytes lost, not just drink lots of water. Take this from the guy that used to ALWAYS carry around a gallon of water. Well I was overhydrating (yes this is a real thing). I was peeing all day long which wasn’t very productive.
Overhydration can cause the sodium levels in the blood to become too diluted, which becomes an issue. Instead of focusing on drinking 128 oz of water per day, try and focus on eating more “real foods”. Fruits and veggies are top priority here. Meats, nuts and seeds are great as well. Just by eating real food, we not only take in more water but replenish electrolytes much better than let’s say Gatorade which we all grew up thinking was good for us. FALSE. Here is an awesome article on “Overhydrating”
I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole here but Gatorade is basically sugar water. The sodium content isn’t high enough to replenish. We would need to drink an absurd amount of gatorade to hit our sodium levels which means sugar is through the roof.
Anyway, another great rule to follow besides eating real food, is drink when you are thirsty. This is an amazing mechanism the body has to keep us adequately hydrated. If we aren’t thirsty we probably don’t need to keep cramming water down our throats.
Without getting too complicated, here are a few tips on how to properly hydrate.
- If you sweat a lot, be generous with salt on your foods and drink .75 to 1 oz per lb of body weight.
- If you have a high level of physical activity, you need more water, again .5 to 1 oz per lb of body weight is a good rule. Depends if you are a big sweater.
- If you don’t do much physical activity and don’t sweat much just drink when you’re thirsty.
- If you eat real foods and drink when you’re thirsty, have plenty of energy and no aches and pains, you are probably properly hydrated.
Hope this info was helpful. Again I’m not a doctor, I’m just sharing my experiences. If you are really concerned about dehydration go see your doctor.