5 Tips to Making Hydration a Habit

Many people have heard the rule: Drink eight, 8-oz. glasses of water every day.

While it’s a good rule of thumb, there’s no one-size-fits-all hydration guideline. People of different body sizes and activity levels need different amounts of water in a day. Many people fall short of their hydration needs.

Dehydration Dangers

Most people don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated. Being even slightly dehydrated can affect your brain, heart, muscles and mood.

Athletes are especially susceptible to dehydration. They lose sweat during workouts and often don’t drink enough to replenish the fluid they lost.

They often don’t realize how hydration affects their performance because they’re always performing in a slightly dehydrated state.

Your blood volume goes down when you sweat. This decreases how much blood – which carries oxygen – your heart pumps with each beat. When this happens, it impairs your performance by reducing the amount of oxygen delivered to your muscles.

Meeting Your Hydration Needs

Because hydration is different for everyone, many health professionals refer to the urine color chart. If your urine is a light yellow, you’re drinking enough water.

Coffee, Soda and Alcohol

Unless you’re drinking seven or more cups of coffee, caffeinated tea or caffeinated soda per day, your daily cup of caffeine isn’t going to dehydrate you.

Alcohol, on the other hand, has strong diuretic properties. It makes you urinate more often, which can lead to rapid dehydration. Limit your alcohol consumption to a drink or two with a couple of cups of water between each drink to stay hydrated.

5 Healthy Hydration Tips

  1. Drink two large glasses of water first thing in the morning.
  2. Carry a large water bottle with you throughout the day and refill it several times.
  3. Eat fruits and vegetables – which have high water content – at every meal and snack.
  4. If your workout was over an hour, intense or outside in the heat, have a sports drink after it. Sports drinks have sugar and electrolytes that can replenish what you lost in sweat.
  5. Weigh yourself before and after a workout. Weight loss indicates you lost a lot of water through sweat. Drink 16 to 20 oz. of fluid for every pound you lost during activity.

Remember, everybody is different, and you can also over-hydrate. If you’re running to the bathroom frequently or your urine is clear, you may be drinking too much water.