How to Hydrate

I ran six miles this morning. It took me about an hour. It was HOT. Like, 93º but feels like 105 hot. I lost 0.8 pounds. In an hour. From running. And no, running is not some magical exercise that can make you lose a pound an hour, though I wish it were.

The weight that I lost was water weight. And that was still after I had already drank back 16 oz (about a pound). So let’s talk about drinking water!

I want to start with the myths.

A lot of people have heard that if you’re properly hydrated your urine should be clear. That’s not actually true. In fact, if your pee is consistently clear you may be drinking too much, causing electrolyte imbalances. (See link for more detail.)

Others have been told that you need to drink eight cups, or 64 ounces, a day. Also not true. And that thing about needing enough ounces to match half your body weight? Probably not.

So how much water do you need to drink? Unfortunately, it depends.

The more you sweat, the more you need to drink. So if it’s hot, you’re spending a lot of time outside, or you exercise, you’ll need to drink more than if you were sitting around doing nothing in a comfortably air conditioned room. It can also be a good idea to drink a little extra if you’re sick, particularly with a fever, or if you’re vomiting or have diarrhea.

Also remember that water is not the only way to hydrate. Much of our food contains water – particularly fruits – and any liquid you drink has significant water content as well. Even coffee, which is said to dehydrate you (also not true), can count toward your daily water intake.

Ultimately, ideal hydration is when your pee is approximately the color of lemonade, but there’s a range of what’s acceptable. There are several charts available online that show you what’s healthy and what isn’t. And in general, if you’re thirsty, you probably should drink. That’s your body’s natural way of telling you it needs to be hydrated.

In case you need justification, here are seven health benefits of drinking water. And in case you’re worried but aren’t near a toilet, here are the symptoms of dehydration.

Water is good for you and you should definitely drink a lot of it, but you probably don’t need to be forcing yourself to chug down massive amounts every day. Keep it reasonable, and remember that there’s no magic number; drink whatever feels right for you! (And whatever turns your pee the right shade of yellow. 🙂 )

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