Water is the fountain of life.
Everything living needs water
Everything living needs water to varying degrees. Humans are 50% to 70% water and we need to replace a portion (around 2.5 quarts) of it everyday. This is the first building block we will work on. Ensuring proper hydration will help support the rest of the building blocks and it can be an easy goal to start with. Most people already drink water regularly and it will only be a matter of getting enough. I say it can be an easy goal but I recognize that it won’t be easy for everyone. When I originally made the switch from soda to water it was really hard, but worth it. I started drinking soda around the time I started walking and water was BORING! No Fizz, no Caffeine, no Flavor. Now I crave water and almost never think about getting soda. Trust me, you will eventually reach for water before any other liquid, regardless of where you start.
That’s all fine and dandy but how much water do I need?
Of course the answer is “that depends”. It depends on weight, sex, humidity, altitude, level of activity and fitness level. On the Water Guide page I have done some research to determine if there is an answer that we can use. First here is a table of measures to help you understand some of the numbers.
The values in the articles range from 4 cups to an ounce per pound. There is no consensus! Some believe that we should drink a set amount and some believe that it is all hype. One thing they all have in common is that it is important to be properly hydrated, even if they don’t agree how to get there. I believe that there is enough evidence to make water an essential habit to create. So much of what our body does depends on having Adequate Intake (AI) of water. The articles almost all agree on three things. (1) Drink when you are thirsty, (2) drinking water isn’t the only way to get water in your diet and (3) look at the color of your urine color to determine your level of hydration.
(1.) Drink when you are thirsty
Let’s look at “drink when you are thirsty” first. I don’t disagree with the idea. I do, however disagree with the idea that everyone realizes when they are thirsty. I know that if I am concentrating on something, I may not notice right away. I have gone entire work days without eating because I was concentrating on what I was trying to accomplish and zoned out the rest. If you realize you are thirsty, then by all means drink!
(2.) Drinking water isn’t the only way to get water in your diet
Water contributes to your total intake, but so does coffee and tea and watermelon and apples and spinach. Pretty much everything that goes in our mouths has some amount of water. The articles didn’t all agree on the merits of drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages but the net effect is more water in than out. You can count them but it’s hard to calculate the net effect so use with caution. Another caution might be hard for some to hear, but I also suggest trying to replace soda with water. Start slow and replace more and more until you only drink soda occasionally. Check out our Four Week Tracker for help. I am not going to devote a lot of time right now to sugar or fake sugar. Let’s just agree water without anything is the fountain of life (not the soda fountain.)
(3.) Look at the color of your urine color to determine your level of hydration
Your urine should be light yellow or almost colorless. If you are wondering, like I did, how do I know if is light yellow, then checkout the chart below. It is part of a table created by the Cleveland Clinic in the Article “What the Color of Your Urine Says About You (Info graphic). (And if your color isn’t on this chart, go to the source and look, they have more listed)
|You’re drinking a lot of water. You may want to cut back
|Pale Straw Color
|You’re normal, healthy and well-hydrated
|Normal. But drink some water soon.
|Amber or Honey
|Your body isn’t getting enough water. Drink some now.
Although there is no general way to determine how much you should drink there is definitive a way (see table above) to verify if you have had enough. My final suggestions:
- Drink water whenever you are thirsty.
- Drink water before every meal.
- Decide on an amount to drink. I picked 8 x 8 (eight 8-ounce glasses of water) because it forced me to give up soda. I didn’t want to drink soda after all of that water.
- Watch your urine to obtain the proper color and adjust.
- Remember to increase your water on very hot days or when you are working out and sweating heavily.