How much water should I drink?

glass of waterI often get asked how much water people should drink.  I did a quick search of the internet looking for an article to refer people to, but I couldn’t find anything that dealt with all the issues and had all the correct facts.  Here is my effort!

You should pay as much attention to your level of hydration as you do to your intake of food.  Your body is made up of 70% water, so don’t ignore the importance of water. 

Never rely upon being thirsty as a good indicator of proper hydration, as many people don’t experience feelings of thirst unless their throats or mouths are dry. 

Dehydration is often mistaken as hunger.  Late night cravings are often a cry from your body to hydrate rather than a need for food.  It is virtually impossible to tell the difference.  Therefore, always try drinking a glass or two of water in the evenings instead of heading to the fridge or pantry.  You will be surprised how the water will fill the need without the calories.

The kidneys can process up to 15 litres of water per day, so there is very little chance that you can drink too much water, especially if you spread out your consumption throughout the day.

The average adult loses about 2.5 litres of water per day (1.5 litres through urine, and another 1.0 litres through breathing, sweating and bowl movements).  To remain healthy, you need to replenish 2.5 litres of liquid per day at a minimum.  Most people obtain approximately half a litre from their food.

Signs of Dehydration:

Temporary signs of dehydration range from hunger, headaches, reduced alertness or concentration, fatigue, mood changes, and elevated resting heart rate. 

Longer term signs of dehydration can manifest itself as constipation, kidney stones, blood clots, heart attack or stroke, are early aging (evidenced by wrinkles and less elastic skin).   

Proper hydration allows your body perform the way that it was meant to perform.

Factors Affecting the Amount of Water You Lose in a Day:

Climate: The warmer the temperature, the more you sweat, the more you need to drink.  The same goes for humidity.  In hot or humid climates, adding a litre per day should offset the fluids lost by sweating. Dry weather or indoor heating during the winter can cause your skin to lose moisture, which will require additional hydration.  High altitudes (more than 8,000 feet above sea level) will cause increased fluid loss, thereby requiring additional hydration.  

Exercise: The duration and intensity of a workout will affect the amount of sweat produced, and therefore determine how much water needs to be replaced.  In general, drink an extra litre of water for each hour of exercise.  High performance athletes, such as our Olympians, train many hours per day and require up to eight or ten litres of water per day to replenish their body fluids.

Weight:  The greater your weight, the more water you need to drink.  A good general guideline is drink ½ oz of water per day for every pound that you weigh.  For example, someone who weighs 120 pounds should drink 60 ounces (about 2 litres) while someone who weighs 200 pounds should drink 100 ounces (about 3 litres).  In general, men need to drink 3 litres per day and women need to drink about 2.0 litres per day.

Medications:  Some prescriptions require the patient to drink more liquids and a few require you to drink less water.  Always consult with your physician or pharmacist when taking medications.

Pregnancy: According to the Institute of Medicine, pregnant women should increase their intake of water by a small amount each day. Therefore, and extra glass or two of water per day will suffice. During breast feeding, it is recommended women increase their intake of water up to 3 litres per day.

Illness:  Fever, vomiting, and diarrhea cause a loss of fluids that need to be replaced.  Bladder infections and urinary tract stones also create a need to drink more water.  Diseases of the liver, kidney, and adrenal gland, and heart failure may impair the excretion of water and require limiting water intake.  Always consult your health care provider.

Do Other Liquids Count?

Yes they do.  Milk, juices, and coffee are almost 100% water. 

Contrary to what you may read from different uniformed sources, coffee does not act as a diuretic.  A diuretic is a substance that when ingested results in a net loss of water from the body.  However, alcohol is a diuretic, so having a few beers after a game won’t replenish your body fluids, but it might improve your stories! 

Your body only needs water in terms of fluid replacement.  I try to drink protein shakes with fruit and water after a workout, and I also try to drink green juice produced by extracting juice from vegetables every day.  There is really no need to ever drink any other liquids unless you need to replace certain nutrients such as potassium after a long workout. 

The two main reasons that most people don’t like drinking water are the fact that the water tastes or smells bad, or water makes them feel bloated.  A simple charcoal filter will eliminate the taste and odour. Ionized water will eliminate the bloating sensation and provide many other health benefits.

Summary of Useful Tips for Water Consumption

  • Consume at least as much liquid as your body uses up in a day
  • Drink additional liquids when you are sick or attempting to overcome disease
  • Drink additional liquids when you are pregnant or breast feeding
  • Drink additional liquids if you are in a hot/humid climate or at spending time at high altitudes
  • Drink additional liquids if you exercise
  • Use charcoal filters to improve the taste and water
  • Use other filters to remove contaminants from your water supply
  • Use ionized water for more energy and to eliminate the bloated feeling experienced from drinking water
  • If your urine is closer to being clear than yellow, you are probably well hydrated

 As always, the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and are not intended to as medical advice.  Always consult a health care provider with any health issues.

13 Responses to How much water should I drink?

  1. Great article. Drinking enough water truly is essential to life. Alkaline water is a good choice because it optimally hydrates the body. Increasing the alkalinity of the body has additional health benefits as well. Alkaline water is also a potent antioxidant.

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    • Hi Anonymous:

      I appreciate the compliment, and your comments about the water, but please don’t use the blog to advertise your company and your products. People come to this forum for information and to learn. I don’t appreciate your thinly veiled attempts to promote your MLM company. Everytime you try to sneak in another plug for your company, you provide me with another opportunity to expose your line of outrageously overpriced products.

      Rob

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  2. Milk, juice and coffee count? For someone who is “educated” in alkaline water, you sure are off the mark on that one. Coffee is highly acidic and the body wants to get rid of acid and uses up our own water that the body needs to flush it out. Milk…is also acidic and an inflammatory and something else that the body wants to get rid of. Both coffee and milk are toxic to the body and the water is not bio-available to the cells. Oh by the way, anything that is acidic will cause our own body to spill minerals to protect the organs from the acid. Juice… full of sugar … oh wait, that’s acidic too. I recommend you get your information straight before some person listens to you and thinks they can get hydrated off of 8 cups of coffee.

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    • Hi Jude:

      Perhaps you should read my article again. I specifically stated “The one significant omission to the article is that the acidity of coffee was not addressed. Coffee is acidic which is not good for a body that craves to be alkaline. A list of the pH levels of ten coffees show a range of 4.9 to 5.7 ”

      The only beverage that I drink is ionized water whenever possible. When ionized water is not available, I drink regular water as an alternative. I understand that the body doesn’t require any liquids other than water, which means that drinking anything else requires your body to perform uneccessary work.

      Nearly half of adult Americans enjoy their coffee. It is not my place to judge or preach to people about what they should or shouldn’t do. I just provide information in an effort to make people aware of things. I have been involved with water for long enough to know that the people that want to listen and act upon it will do so. Others will choose to believe what they want to believe, and that is OK.

      Coffee is acidic, but so is almost everything else most of us eat or drink. Soda, or pop as we call it in Canada, is 100 to 1,000 times more acidic than coffee. Many of the things most of us eat or drink are equally or more acidic than coffee.

      The point of the article is that recent studies indicate coffee may in fact have some positive effects on our health. I question some of the studies as I think they need to consider other factors and be conducted over a longer period of time. However, I thought that the tens of millions of adults among us that drink coffee might enjoy some good news for a change.

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  3. Thanks, I found the information useful and realize I’m not consuming as much as I need to.

    I do have a question though. If alcohol is a diuretic can you lose more than you consume? Let’s say I go out drinking with my friends and have 10-12 beers, will I actually become dehydrated because I’ve lost more fluids than I consumed? I was trying to figure this out.

    Also, I know in theory you can always consume to much in life, but can I consume too much water?

    Thanks,

    Chip in U.S.

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    • Hi Chip:

      10-12 beers? I don’t know if you are serious or just playing with me. Your inevitable hangover would likely be the result of dehydration caused by the diuretic effect of the alcohol in the beer.

      Alcohol is diuretic. This means it encourages the body to lose more water than it takes on by halting the production of the body’s anti-diuretic hormone, resulting in you needing to go to the toilet excessively and so speeding up the loss of fluid from your body, leading to dehydration.

      It is virtually impossible to drink too much water for most people, but it has been known to occur in infants that are force fed too much water, and in long distance runners who drink too much water too fast. For the rest of us….drink up….water that is!

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  4. Your article was very informative. I have 3 questions for you and hope you can draw some light on these points. I was told if you add lemon onto your water it as good as alkaline water which is good for you. Is this true? Second question, Is it true that alkailine water should not be consumed half hour prior and after meals. I read somewhere that you need to balance your alkaline level as acidic level in you body. Does this mean there is a certain amount of alkalinne water that we need to drink or any amount on comsumption of alkaline water is okay.

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    • Hi Chris:

      Really good questions…thanks for sending them.

      I don’t fully understand how eating lemons works. They are acidic, but they apparently create alkali ash. When you consume lemon, the cells in the wall won’t create HCl (acid), which means sodium bicarbonate won’t be created as a biproduct. Therefore, I don’t see how it works. However, it is supposed to be good for you. I do know that if I have a bad stomach at bedtime after a late pizza or something similar, if i drink an ounce of apple cider vinegar, it seems to work. The vinegar is wretched so I rarely go to that extreme.

      I have read in many places that one should not drink alkaline half an hour to one hour before a meal. Intuitively, it makes sense because it could alter the pH of the stomache and distrupt the normal breakdown of food by the acid in your stomache. However, if you consume alkaline water, the stomache will then produce HCL to break down the food and thereby create bicarbonates that will enter the small intestine. From a personal standpoint, I have been drinking alkaline water with meals for years, and so have many of my peers that I speak with about the subject. Like so many things when it comes to the water, I just don’t know the answer. I do know that I no longer buy into the mantras being spread by the water ionizer companies because I don’t think any of them do any of their own research.

      The common theory is that you should drink 8 glasses of water per day. Another theory is that you should drink 1/2 ounce of water for every pound of body weight per day. I have been reading a fair amount lately that you probably don’t need to drink that much water. I also believe that people absorb about half a litre of water per day from their food.

      If I was pressed into providing an answer, I would say that you should drink water instead of snacking between meals and after dinner. Your brain can’t tell the difference between being hungry or thirsty. Heaven knows that most of us can’t possibly be hungry with the amount of food that we eat, so hunger pains are often misinterpreted cries of thirst. I think your best guide is to take note of the color of your pee. You want your pee to be a very light yellow color. If your pee is darker yellow, or has a strong smell, chances are you should drink more water.

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  5. Hi Rob, I have a question. I have been drinking alkaline/ionized water for about 5 months and the few times I have been able to drink the amount I “am supposed to drink” which is apparently my body weight in oz. of water-140 oz-I get charley horse cramps at night! I was also told by the person I bought my machine from that it is not possible to get water toxicity from ionized water and that I should drink more because the cramps are coming from the “toxins” stuck in my calf muscles…I didn’t even have serious detox symptoms in the beginning so this makes no sense to me. The only thing that makes sense is that I am flushing out my electrolytes, but again, was told this doesn’t happen with alkaline/ionized water. Do you know anything about this? Thanks!!

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    • Hi Star:

      It is very difficult to over drink when it comes to water. The only
      incidences that I’m aware of are for marathon runners and for babies that
      are force fed too much water.

      The conventional wisdom is that people need to drink 1/2 ounce of water for
      each pound of weight. Therefore, if you weigh 140, you should drink about
      70 ounces of water. External factors such as exercise, sweating, the
      altitude that you live at can also create a greater demand for water
      replacement. It is really about proper water replacement. The typical
      body (whatever that is) uses about 2 1/2 liters of water per day and most
      people get about 1/2 liter of water from their food. Therefore, the
      “average person” requires about 2 liters of water per day from beverages.
      You don’t have to drink water specifically to get water into your body as
      most beverages are flavoured water. I don’t drink much other than water
      because the body doesn’t require the crap the goes into flavoured drinks of
      any kind.

      I’m not a doctor so my thoughts are only my thoughts. I would start out by
      cutting back to 70 ounces per day and see what happens. If your source
      water is soft (meaning few or no minerals which your body requires) and you
      don’t provide the minerals in your diet, then that could be the problem.
      You might want to try using supplements, including some type of CalMag (a
      calcium and magnesium) supplement.

      Ionized water is not a magic bullet for everyone but it will provide the
      required hydration and possibly some minerals.

      You might want to visit a physician and get some tests done. Imo, providing
      access to testing is the primary function of medical doctors….oh
      yea….they can also save your life in a medical emergency and fix up broken
      bones and stitch up cuts. Although I’m a strong supporter of alternative
      medicine, it is easy to see that medical doctors have a role to play in our
      health as well. What gets me and so many others frustrated is that people
      really solely on their medical doctors for maintenance of their health which
      is crazy as doctors are not trained for that job.

      Rob

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      • Hi Rob,
        Why not test the TDS as a guide for hydration ?

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  6. Hi Rob:

    I’d heard conflicting information about Alkaline water when taking with medication or meals. And also about how to “keep” alkaline water.

    So then, in your research and personal experience, please clarify these topics for me:
    1. I heard that I could’t drink alkaline water 30 minutes before or 30 minutes after eating a meal or taking meds, since the alkalinity may affect the body’s digestion.

    2. Also, I have heard that alkaline water must be kept in a dark/tinted container, otherwise the alkalinity will be lost, as if sunlight may destroy its effectiveness. Or that alkaline water shouldn’t be “shaken” as it will be adversely affected that way also.

    Thank you sir

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    • Hi Rod:

      Geez….you have really go the water itch bad!

      The 30 minute before and after meal suggestion makes sense. The acid in your stomach is there to break down food as the starting point in digestion. If you inflate the pH of the contents of the stomach by drinking strong alkaline water, it intuitively makes sense that the cells in the walls of the stomach lining will have to produce more HCl and the process will take longer. Therefore, drinking alkaline water shortly before or after eating may delay the process a bit. Either way, the food will get digested before it moves on to the intestines.

      There is a counter intuitive argument to what I stated above and is generally accepted as a reasonable protocol. When you eat alkaline foods (fruits, legumes, veggies, nuts, and seeds), the contents of your stomach will be more alkaline than normal, but I never read that eating alkaline food interrupts the digestive process. Hmmmm. Since the stomach can’t tell the difference between alkaline food and alkaline water, it seems to me that the entire issue is overblown unless you need to digest your food as quickly as possible (for a sporting event for example).

      Keeping alkaline water in a dark container and preventing air from getting to the water is a strategy of electric water ionizer vendors. They are so hyped up about pH and ORP than they want to maintain the levels for as long as possible. Therefore, if don’t move the water and you seal it off from air getting to it and you keep it in the dark, the levels will last longer. What a load of nonsense…why would anyone do that in real life. Just go get a fresh glass of water from your electric machine. Or better still, just use a natural water ionizer that puts the right mix of alkali elements into the water so that it continues to ionize.

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