Here’s How Much Water You Should Really Drink Every Day

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From “motivational water bottles” to the viral Stanley cup, drinking water has recently shifted from a wellness necessity to a cool trend. Let’s not forget the rainbow of carbonated flavored waters lining the aisles at the grocery store too. Have you tried the Peach Honey one from AHA or La Croix’s Guava? I’m hooked.

We need water to survive and thrive, and it should be a big part of our daily routine. According to the Mayo Clinic, when we don’t get enough water, “even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.” I think we’ve all been there at some point and it’s not fun. But in 2022, do the water “rules” we’ve been taught for years still apply? How much water do you need, and what if you just don’t like water? We’ve got the answers from top nutritionists, as well as tips for making it easier to sip throughout the day.

Is the standard rule still to drink eight 8-ounce cups of water a day?

Board-certified holistic nutritionist Jennifer Hanway says there’s no scientific evidence behind this “rule,” but it’s a great benchmark to hit. “Water intake, just like any of our other nutrients, is individual to each of us,” she explains. “In the winter, we actually need more water, as it is cold and dry outside, and warm and dry inside. If you are in a hot or humid climate, you will need more water, and of course if you are exercising more or using a sauna, you will need to replace lost fluids.”

According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an adequate daily fluid intake for an average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate is about 15.5 cups (8 ounces each) for men, and 11.5 cups for women. However, this includes fluids from water, beverages and food, and the Academies notes that about 20 percent of our daily fluid intake usually comes from food.

“You can eat your water, too,” says Mia Syn, registered dietitian and author of Mostly Plant-Based. “Focus on incorporating plenty of water-rich foods into your diet, such as fruits and vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers and watermelon, which are all made up of over 90-percent water.”

Does coffee and tea count toward daily water consumption?

“Coffee and caffeinated tea do not count,” says Hanway, who notes that consuming caffeinated beverages actually makes you more dehydrated. “Therefore I recommend always adding an extra glass of water when consuming these types of drinks. Herbal, caffeine-free teas can count toward your water intake, but be careful of teas such as dandelion and nettle that can have a diuretic effect.” 

What about carbonated flavored waters like La Croix, Waterloo and AHA?

“Fizzy waters could count toward one of your cups a day, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend more than one a day!” Hanway says. “However, some do contain added sugars or flavorings that may have negative impacts on your health, and they are not good for tooth enamel either.”

How much is too much water to drink in a day?

“There is no Tolerable Upper Intake Level for water because healthy bodies can excrete extra water through urine or sweat,” says Syn. “However, water toxicity can occur when a large amount of fluid is consumed faster than the kidneys are able to excrete it. The excess water dilutes blood levels of sodium, causing a condition called hyponatremia, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, muscle spasms and seizures.”

Should water consumption be spaced throughout the day, or can you drink it all at once?

Based on Syn’s explanation of the risk of hyponatremia mentioned above, it makes sense not to drink a day’s worth of water all at once, and Hanway agrees. “I recommend spacing your water consumption out throughout the day to avoid flushing minerals and electrolytes out of your body all at once,” she says. “Additionally, consuming excess water dilutes our stomach acid, which can make it more difficult to digest our meals and lead to more bloating and indigestion. And this will help minimize urgent bathroom breaks too!”

Hanway recommends drinking a tall glass of water first thing when you wake up, as our bodies are often dehydrated after eight hours of no water, and to help with the detoxification process that occurs overnight. “Space the rest of your water intake out over the day—more after exercise or a sauna—but try to minimize liquids in the one to two hours before bed to prevent sleep disturbances.”

Is hot water with lemon in the morning a wellness must?

Many celebs, including Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore, swear by the daily habit of drinking hot water with lemon in the morning to not only boost their metabolism, but also enhance overall wellness. “My old guru Kimberly Snyder says you’re supposed to have a cup of hot water with lemon every morning…a full lemon squeezed in there,” Barrymore said in an Instagram video. “They say it is the most cleansing set-up you can do for your body and there are so many benefits.”

Syn says adding lemons to water adds nutrients, including vitamin C and other antioxidants, and improves flavor for some, which may help boost your water intake overall. “Some studies suggest that the citric acid in lemons may help prevent kidney stones and boost gastric acid secretion in the stomach, therefore potentially aiding digestion as well.”

Hanway takes a slightly different approach: “My personal take on this is to add a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of Himalayan salt to warm water to help remineralize my body and support adrenal health.”

How can we stay accountable and get our ounces in everyday?

“Keep a large glass of water by your bed to drink when you wake up, always have a large glass of water on your desk during the day, and always carry a water bottle in your purse or gym bag,” says Hanway. “Adding lemon, lime, cucumber, fresh herbs, and a pinch of Himalayan salt can also make drinking water more flavorful and add extra health benefits. And, focus on the health benefits of drinking more water rather than seeing it just as a chore. Staying hydrated gives us more energy, better mental clarity and focus, and healthy, glowing and youthful-looking skin. It can also stop us from craving junky foods and sweets.”

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