Tips To Drink More Water and Stay Hydrated
The health benefits of drinking water cannot be understated. By now, everyone knows we should be drinking water - the question is why, how, and how much?
First, the why: The Mayo Clinic shares numerous reasons why water consumption is so important. It’s important to drink water to:
Regulate body temperature
Protect sensitive body tissues, including the spinal cord
Rid the body of waste - this removes some burden from the organs, including the kidneys
Moisten eyes, nose, and mouth tissues
Transport nutrients and oxygen to cells throughout the body
But how much is enough? The old adage “eight cups a day” is a good place to start. How much water you need will ultimately depend on factors including your age, activity level, and any potential health conditions. Things such as the weather and the climate where you are will also affect how much water you should consume.
As a general guideline, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a daily water intake of 3.7 liters (125 ounces) for men and 2.7 liters (91 ounces) for women - this comes out to about 15 cups for men, and about 11 cups for women.
Keep in mind that our body doesn’t only receive hydration from drinking good ol’ water - many foods and other healthy beverages also help keep us hydrated. Watermelon and spinach are nearly 100% water by weight, the CDC notes.
I have been a big water drinker for as long as I can remember - I just enjoy drinking it! Once I cut out most other sugary beverages, going back to them just didn’t seem appealing; in fact, once I upped my water intake, I found that sugary beverages make me more thirsty. Still, there are some days where I’m pushing through to meet my daily water intake, which is when I refer to some of my tried and true H2O consumption tips.
Whether water is not a large part of your daily diet or you’re a member of hydration nation and just need a little extra push - here are some tips to get your water on, every step of the way.
If you consume little to no water per day:
Swap out one sugary beverage for a low- to no-calorie alternative every day.
While not the best solution in the long-term, this is a good place to start. The jury appears to still be out on the consumption of artificial sweeteners, which got a particularly bad reputation after a 1970s study found an association between their consumption and cancer in laboratory rats. The ingredient in question was saccharin. Artificial sweeteners have since been declared “generally safe” for consumption by health organizations including the National Cancer Institute. So what’s the verdict here? Everything in moderation - including this one.
Try this method out for one week. At week two, swap out two sugary drinks. See if you can cut out all of your sugary beverages by one month.
Give yourself timed water goals.
This suggestion may be on the beginner’s list but it’s something I still practice every day! Don’t make it complicated to start out. It could be something like, “Every day, I’ll drink two cups of water by 10:00 AM” or “Every day, I’ll drink three cups of water before lunchtime.”
Try this strategy out for one week. You may notice yourself begin to crave water more as you introduce more of it into your diet. Either way, this ensures that water will become a part of your daily routine, even if it’s not your favorite part (yet!).
Start your day with a small amount of water.
Even if it’s in the smallest cup you own, have at least a little bit of water before any other beverages for the day (looking at you, coffee). You can leave it by your bedside so it’s right there in the morning. If ice cold water is your thing, set your cup out on the counter for you the night before so you see it right away when you enter your kitchen.
If you consume a fair amount of water but know it’s not enough:
Swap out one non-water beverage for a seltzer every day.
Seltzers come in a variety of flavors. And like with artificial sweeteners, flavored seltzer has come under a lot of scrutiny, namely because it’s not always clear what these drinks are flavored with, or how. Like with the low-cal drinks, err on the side of caution here - moderation is key. I opt for one flavored seltzer a day. You could also try a plain seltzer with a splash of natural fruit juice (not the ones loaded with sugar).
Of note: if you have sensitive teeth, beware that seltzer could affect your tooth enamel. So follow up your seltzer with some regular plain water and maybe opt to sip the bubbly option through a metal straw.
Increase your timed water goals.
There are a few creative ways to challenge yourself more here. One option is to keep using the same cup but fill it once more - so if you’ve been drinking two cups before 10:00 AM, try three cups before 10:00 AM. You could also switch to a bigger cup to get your two-cup fill. Or maybe you bring back the time on your water consumption: if two cups by 10:00 AM has been your sweet spot, try two cups by 9:30 AM.
Start your day with more water.
That tiny cup you started out with? Time to upgrade it for a bigger one.
If you’re almost where you want to be and are SO close to hitting your goals:
By now, if you haven’t already, you may want to start tracking just how much water you’re drinking and bring your consumption closer to the CDC’s recommendations.
Cut down on your non-water beverages.
Try to bring yourself down to one to two seltzers or low-cal drinks a day. Eventually, bring this down to one.
Start drinking from the same water bottle/cup/container every day.
If you feel like you’re drinking a lot of water but still haven’t actually measured how much that is, take a week to do so - including the weekends, if this is usually a time you struggle to drink water. Some water bottles are labeled with different time stamps to remind you to drink a certain amount at a certain time. If you’re serious about your water consumption, this is a nice option. You can also opt for any larger water bottle, measure how much water it holds, and track how many of them you drink each day. My daily water bottle holds 24 ounces of water, so I know how many filled bottles I have to consume for the day to hit my daily water goals.
If you don’t want to purchase a new water bottle, measure how much water your cup actually holds with a digital scale or a measuring cup, and continue to use that cup as your daily reference.
Track your water intake.
I have a FitBit, and the app allows me to set my daily water goal and keep track of how much I’ve consumed. You can use any app you like, or even start a tally on the free Notes app. If you’re more of a visual/writing person, grab a notebook and jot it down.
Increase your timed water goals.
Really? But I’m always in the bathroom! Yes, really, and same.
If you’re a veteran water drinker:
Congratulations! Welcome to the hydrated club! It’s a great place to be - and by “it,” I mean the bathroom, because you are most likely in there all the time now. You’re in good company! Even if you've graduated to the elite water club, here are a few final tips for those days where it still feels like a challenge to hit that daily mark (because, hey, we’re human).
Flavor your water with fruit or vegetables.
My daily water bottle I just mentioned actually includes an infuser. Every morning I slice a lemon to add to my water. Other options here include orange, mint, cucumber, grapefruit, lime - whatever you like. Think back to your favorite flavored seltzer and low-cal drinks and recreate it with your water - get creative!
Drink unsweetened iced tea.
This is excellent when graduating from flavored drinks. I love unsweetened iced green tea or iced tea with a lemon. You can purchase these at the store or make your own at home with any brand of tea bags, or loose tea leaves and an infused pitcher.
Consume the majority of your daily water before dinner.
My daily non-water beverage (aside from coffee and tea) is a flavored seltzer. I drink one a day, and it’s typically with my dinner. For me, it’s something of a treat. I always make sure I’ve hit my daily water target before I have my seltzer. If this means I’m doing one more water chug while I cook my dinner, then I’ll chug away!
Bonus - if you’re expecting the unexpected:
A large part of making sure you drink enough water comes down to routine. Of course, some days may not quite follow your routine, whether it’s running errands, date night, socializing with friends, or anything else that comes up. Here’s how I keep my water consumption in check when expecting the unexpected.
Fake it ’til you make it.
Sounds weird to say about drinking water, right? But this one is a biggie. Even if you’re not particularly thirsty, if you know you won’t be drinking as much water as usual, force down a few gulps when you can.
Bring extra water while traveling.
I never get in the car without a bottle of water. If I’m in my own car or a vehicle I’ll be returning to, I take my own water bottle, plus another one filled with extra water for later. If I’m taking public transportation or going somewhere where bringing my personal water bottle isn’t feasible, I buy a recyclable water bottle en route - the biggest one I can find.
It’s especially important to stay hydrated while flying. A lot of airports have refillable water stations near the bathrooms. You can also bring your water bottle to any of the restaurants inside and ask if they’ll fill it for you - I’ve done this many times at Starbucks.
If alcohol is an option, consider staying sober.
Have you ever woken up after a couple of cocktails and craved water more than anything in the world? Alcohol severely dehydrates you! Knowing the effects drinking has on your body, it’s not a bad idea to skip the booze every now and then.
…But if you’re not, follow the 1:1 ratio.
If you do plan on having a few drinks, order a water with every drink to stay ahead of yourself. Don’t order another alcoholic beverage until you’ve finished your first one and your water. Also, see rule number one from this section - fake it ‘til you make it, and get your water intake in nice and early in the day.
How do you keep yourself hydrated throughout the day? Let me know in the comments below!