We’ve all heard the 8 x 8 rule – drink 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Easy to remember, but it doesn’t really work. Why? It’s a one size fits all mindset that doesn’t take into account your size, weight, activity level or environment (altitude, heat, humidity).
Let’s face it, The water needs of a 250-pound man vs. a 165-pound woman are very different. In fact, for those of us who are viewed as obese, 8 x 8 doesn’t even come close to what we need daily.
- Water is involved in every type of cellular process in our bodies, including your metabolism. As a result, your body is less efficient if it’s dehydrated.
- Our bodies can’t tell the difference between hunger and thirst. There are times during the day I think I’m hungry but it isn’t time for me to eat. That’s when I reach for my water-filled Tervis tumbler rather than a snack and BAM! Magically the hunger goes away.
- Try drinking 1-2 cups of water right before dinner. You’ll eat less. Water fills you and you’ll eat smarter and slower.
- Water also helps your body digest food. Not drinking enough water makes it harder for your kidneys to do their job – filtering out the junk. Yep, chances are if you don’t drink enough water you’ll end up constipated.
- Drinking water is your best defense against kidney stones. When you don’t drink enough water minerals build up in your urine and make it harder for you to pee. These minerals form the crystals that make kidney and urinary stones.
Not sure if you’re hydrated? Well the color of your urine will tell you.
So How Much Water Should You Drink?
Since your weight, size, activity level and environment are factors, the new rule of thumb sweeping the nutrition world is drinking between 0.5 ounces to 1 ounce for each pound you weigh.
Water Intake, Based On Weight
|Weight||Minimum Water||Maximum Water|
|300 lbs||150 ounces||300 ounces|
|250 lbs||125 ounces||250 ounces|
|200 lbs||100 ounces||200 ounces|
|150 lbs||75 ounces||150 ounces|
|125 lbs||62.5 ounces||125 ounces|
I weight 207.4 pounds. This means I should drink 104 – 207 ounces of water a day. That’s roughly 3-6 liters.
But what about other fluids people drink through out the day – tea, coffee, milk, protein shakes or broth? Plus, foods have water too? Do those count toward my daily total?
They sure do!
Roughly 20 percent of the water we consume is in the foods we eat. The key is having balance. I love and brew my own unsweetened ice tea. I’ll drink that over water every time. But I don’t. It’s not great for my teeth. I may drink 16 ounces of ice tea in a day. But the rest of the time it’s water (carbonated or plain).
I normally drink 3 liters a day. I’ve noticed that for the last couple of months I’ve upped it to 4 liters. I think the environment has a lot to do with that. Virginia summers are hot and muggy and I lose a lot of water during my walks and runs. My guess is my water intake will drop slightly once the cool fall weather hits. That increase keeps me will within my 104-207 ounce range.
If you want to factor in your environment, activity level, weight and size, check out this hydration calculator.
How Do You Drink That Much Water?
If you thought drinking 6-8 8-ounce glasses of water a day was hard, drinking over 100 ounces must seem impossible. Not really. There are a few things I do to make sure I hit my daily water goal.
- Drink 16 ounces of water before each meal — Drinking 2 cups of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner helps you eat less. That’s 48 ounces down!
- First and Last Thing You Do — I always drink 1-2 cups of water when I first wake up in the morning. It seems to jump-start me. Try it before you reach for that cup of Joe. When going to bed, stick to water, but only 8 ounces.
- Carry A Container With You — My Tervis tumblers have become a part of my arm. Like my smart phone, they go with me everywhere. The beauty of using a water bottle/tumbler/jug is you can pick the size. My 3 tumblers are 24 ounces. I need to drink 5 full tumblers to hit my daily water goal. And for you cat lovers, I recommend a tumbler with a lid. My evil little bundle of love enjoys sticking his kitty-littered paws in drinks or knocking over drink-filled cups. Lids prevent kitty-made disasters!
- Fizzy Water — I’ve written before about carbonated water. My SodaStream was a godsend. I gave up sodas more than two years ago. It wasn’t the sugar I missed. It was the bubbles. Carbonated water made it easy for me to get my water in. If you buy carbonated water at the grocery store, just make sure to check the labels. Some brands do add sugar.
- Fruit/Veggie Infused Water — In my fridge you’ll find a pitcher of water with either orange slices or cucumbers and mint floating in it. It’s a great way to make bland ol’ water taste awesome. Any pitcher will do, but if you prefer, Amazon has an infusion water pitcher to make it easy for you.
- There’s An App For That! — I use Waterlogged (free app!), but there are lots of apps specifically designed to help you track your water intake. Also a lot of weight loss or nutrition apps, like MyFitnessPal, include water tracking too.
Go For A Gradual Build
When I started my weight loss journey, I thought I followed the 8 x 8 rule. But the sad truth was I drank more soda than water.
I suggest tracking your water intake without making any attempts to increase the amount your drinking. That gives you a baseline. Why do that? Because, like with food, we tend to underestimate how much water we’re really consuming.
Once you have a baseline you can work on increasing your consumption. I learned I drank way more soda than water in a day (6-8 cans of soda vs. 3 glasses of water!!!). I ended up going cold turkey. But I substituted unsweetened ice tea for the soda and not water. That’s a lot of caffeine! Over the next few months I gradually replaced the tea with water. It took time, but got easy as I saw the results on the scale.
It’s important never to try to drink large amounts of water all at once. It messes with your kidneys.