So many of us know that we “should” be drinking more water, but it’s still one of the most common things that clients ask me for help with. Just like with most health tips, the exact routine of what will actually get you to drink more water varies by the person. To get you started in figuring out your combination, I’ll share my best tips to drink more water today! Grab a big glass, and let’s go!
Benefits of Drinking More Water
Like I said, you likely already know you “should” be drinking more water, but just to convince you a bit more, here some of the main benefits you’ll experience when you drink adequate water:
- Improved skin health, including fewer breakouts, more radiance, slower aging, and fewer wrinkles
- Optimized digestion, including more regularity, less bloating, and better nutrient absorption
- Better mood, because often times when we’re irritable or short-tempered, we’re actually thirsty!
- Fewer cravings and less hunger, which we often fail to recognize as signals of thirst
- More energy / less fatigue, which might seem implausible, but is one of the most common benefits I hear from clients who start drinking adequate water
- Improved joint health, including less stiffness and pain and fewer injuries
- Headache relief, because many of the low-grade headaches we experience are our body’s way of telling us it needs water
- Less dry mouth, which might be the most obvious benefit
- Balanced blood pressure, because blood is comprised largely of water, and we need an appropriate balance of water to maintain the right blood volume. Dehydration can either contribute to low blood pressure if blood volume drops, or high blood pressure if your kidneys reabsorb fluid instead of passing it
How to Drink More Water
So now, we’re reconvinced that drinking more water is the right thing to do … how do we actually drink more?
- Set a goal. Just saying you’ll “drink more” is hard to measure, which makes it less actionable. Instead, find your approximate body weight in pounds, divide that in half, and aim to drink that number of ounces per day (so, 75 ounces daily for a 150-pound person). If you’re very active or spend a lot of time outdoors in the heat, add some more – about 16-20 ounces per hour of exercise or time in the heat.Don’t stop at the calculation, though! If you want to drink 75 ounces of water, and you drink out of a 25-ounce bottle, now you know you need to drink 3 bottles per day. That knowledge and simplicity is SO much easier than trying to calculate sips here and remember what you drank. Anyone can remember 3 bottles. So do your calculation now!
- Flavor it up. If you haven’t yet gotten behind the taste of pure water, try flavoring it with fruit (like citrus or strawberries), veggies (like celery or cucumber), and / or herbs (like mint or basil). You can just toss a slice into a glass, or get creative and make a fancy pitcher with a combination of ingredients. Try strawberry lemon, watermelon mint, citrus cucumber, or strawberry lime!As for the popular flavorings that come in dropper bottles, most (like Mio and Crystal Light) have artificial sweeteners, which can lead to more cravings, taste bud changes, and potentially more serious long-term complications. If you “need” a dropped, try SweetLeaf stevia water drops!
- Buy a bottle you love. I personally drink out of a plain old clear glass most of the time, but the number of clients who told me they met their hydration goals as soon as they got a bottle they loved is off the charts. It’s such a worthwhile investment if it means you’ll hydrate appropriately every day! Here are a few of my most recommended:
- Make a routine of drinking. Find something you do multiple times through the day and make it a habit to drink a few swigs after that. For example, each time you get off a phone call or Zoom meeting, each time you check Instagram, each time you look at the clock, each time you use the restroom, or anything else that you do regularly!
- Water before coffee. For all you coffee lovers, this one is for you! I am sure to drink a full glass of water before each cup of coffee. And yes, that includes the one first thing in the morning (in fact, I put apple cider vinegar in mine!). Before you get a refill, down a glass of water, every time. If you’re not a coffee drinker, do this before any non-water drink!
- Alternate with alcohol. Speaking of non-water drinks, I highly recommend alternating each alcoholic beverage on a night out with water. Not only will this keep you from feeling as miserable the next morning, but it will also keep you aware of your consumption and help your liver to metabolize the alcohol you do consume efficiently.
- Don’t leave home (or anywhere) without it. Over and over, I hear of parents who get stuck in endless carpool lines, people who didn’t anticipate meetings or errands taking so many hours, or travelers getting stuck sightseeing without adequate hydration. Just like you wouldn’t leave anywhere without your phone, don’t leave anywhere without your water. Even if I’m running a 5-minute errand, I have water with me. You just never know!
- Get an app. For those techy folks out there who love apps, I have a few suggestions for you. Now, I fully admit I’m not techy, but I think it’s just as easy to set recurring calendar reminders for yourself – let’s say they pop up at 10am, 1pm, and 5pm, and you’re certain to have finished a bottle by each of those times. But I know … apps are fancier. (Did you know I even created a water drinking app a few years ago, before realizing that there were literally thousands of identical apps, and I was paying the developer fee for something that wasn’t really adding anything new to the world?!) So here are a few of my top recommended:
- Rubber band method. One you’ve calculated the number of bottles or glasses you need to drink daily, find that number of rubber bands, and put them on your wrist each morning. Let’s say you want to drink 100 ounces, and your bottle is 20 ounces – you’ll need 5 rubber bands on your wrist. Each time you finish drinking your water bottle’s contents, you transfer a rubber band from your wrist to the bottle. You’ll look down multiple times per day and wonder why you have rubber bands on your wrist – perfect reminder to drink up!
- Make hydrating tradeoffs. If you drink other things through the day, try trading for more hydrating beverages. Trade soda for sparkling water, or trade coffee for herbal tea. And since I know you’ll ask, yes, unsweetened sparkling water does count towards your total, as does herbal tea, but coffee, soda, and alcohol, even if their bases are water, do not.
- Eat your water. Believe it or not, water-rich vegetables and fruits actually do contribute to your hydration! Some of the most hydrating are cucumber (96% water), zucchini (95% water), watermelon (92% water), and grapefruit (91% water).
- Don’t let it sit empty – refill as soon as you drink it. Make a pact with yourself to never have an empty glass or bottle on your desk. Fill it up as soon as you finish it, and you’ll find the increased access leads to increased consumption.
Do I need to drink filtered water?
Need to? No. If the choice is tap water or nothing, drink the tap water. But if you’re looking to go the next step for your health, I highly recommend an at-home filter, and I talk to you about the benefits and my choice of water filters here.
Can you drink too much water?
Now you have all the tips and tricks to drink more water … but can you drink too much water? The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is, it’s very rare for “average” people and surprisingly more common in athletes who are worried about hydrating adequately for a race or performance. The condition is called hyponatremia, and it occurs when the body’s sodium level drops too low because of overhydration. Here are a few things you can do to prevent it:
- Give yourself time to ease up to the recommendations above. As you drink more, you’ll likely become thirstier, which is normal! This is like your body “waking up” to what it feels like to be hydrated.
- When exercising, drink to thirst. Forcing yourself to guzzle water while exercising can be counterproductive. If you’re thirsty, drink. If you’re not, just be sure to hydrate after with appropriate electrolytes (see here for more).
- If you notice nausea, vomiting, extreme bloating, or an altered mental state, go get your blood levels of electrolytes checked out to be sure you’re not experiencing this condition.
Now it’s your turn … What helps you stay hydrated? Which of these tips would you like to try?