The human body is made up of roughly 60% water. The age-old recommendation is to consume around eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day in order to stay properly hydrated. Is this recommendation accurate? And why is drinking enough water so important?
The Importance of Hydration
The human body requires proper hydration in order to function with efficiency.
On a daily basis, our bodies lose a significant amount of water through normal bodily functions. Water exits the body through urine, sweat, and even our breath. The amount of water lost depends on a number of factors, including your activity level and physical size.
At a minimum, we must replace this lost water in order to stay hydrated. And ideally, we should aim to be fully hydrated in order to maintain good health.
But why is hydration so important?
Benefits of Adequate Hydration
Physical Performance – Dehydration can hinder physical performance, reducing strength, motivation and endurance. Surprisingly, a loss of as little as 2% of your body’s water content can noticeably impair your performance. Staying properly hydrated – both before and after exercise – can improve results significantly. Being hydrated before a workout can actually help physically strenuous tasks feel easier than they would if you were dehydrated. And after the gym, rehydrating quickly can help reduce oxidative stress on your muscles.
Energy and Mental Clarity – Your energy levels – both physical and mental – are also closely linked to hydration. Mild dehydration of as little as 1% of body weight can have significant effects. One study of healthy young women found that minor fluid loss following exercise impaired both concentration and mood, while also causing headaches.
Weight Management – Surprisingly, drinking enough water can even help you shed unwanted pounds and maintain a healthy weight. The effect is twofold: water increases the metabolism by up to 30%, burning more calories, and water helps you feel full quicker, so you end up consuming fewer calories at meal time.
Prevention of Common Health Concerns – Staying hydrated can help you stay healthy in general, and may reduce the risk of some serious health concerns. It can also reduce the likelihood of common ailments like headaches, constipation, and hangovers.
Hydration plays a significant role in our overall health. Staying hydrated is one very important – and relatively easy – thing you can do to improve your wellbeing. But how much is enough?
How Much Water Should You Drink?
The common wisdom is “eight 8-ounce glasses” of water per day, equating to 64 oz or ½ gallon.
There is little scientific evidence to support this specific amount of water, but it does fall in the range of typical recommendations by medical professionals.
The 64-oz a day recommendation is a good starting point. However, there are some factors that affect the amount of water you should be drinking:
- Your weight (the heavier you are, the more you should drink)
- Your activity level (more activity = more water)
- Your typical sweat level during activity (more sweat = more water)
- Your diet (the more fruits & vegetables you eat, the less water you need to drink)
Your physical size & weight is perhaps the most significant factor in calculating your ideal intake of fluids.
A common recommendation for active individuals is to consume between 1/2oz and 1oz of water per pound of body weight.
For example, a 150lb person who is physically active should be drinking between 75oz and 150oz of fluids per day.
There are also more complicated formulas you can use, but this guideline is a good starting point.
Keep in mind that other fluids (juice, tea, etc.) also contribute to this amount. Water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, also help.
The Gallon Challenge
The internet is no stranger to viral challenges and trends. Most are questionable at best, but one recent trend may actually have positive net effects on society: the Gallon Water Challenge.
Hundreds of YouTubers, bloggers and “influencers” have undertaken the Gallon Water Challenge to drink 1 gallon of water per day for 30 days, and documented their results.
At first glance, drinking a gallon of water a day seems quite absurd. That’s a ton of water – equivalent to 16 eight-ounce glasses per day, or twice the typical recommendation.
But when you look closer, it’s actually not quite that outlandish. 128 oz (1 gallon) of water falls within the upper range of most recommendations, but it’s nonetheless a reasonable amount of water to consume.
Now, we don’t think that everyone needs to drink a gallon a day – but if this challenge inspires you to drink a bit more than you usually would, we’re all for it!