How Much Water Should You Drink?

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Drink 8 glasses of water a day.  Drink 64 ounces of water.  Divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces of water a day.

How much water should you be drinking in a day?  Hydration is important for everyone, not just athletes, but how are we supposed to know how much water to drink?

I decided to ask the internet.

The Mayo Clinic says that on average, women need 9 cups and men need 13.  But that’s not just water, it’s any beverage. Even caffeinated and alcoholic beverages count, but they shouldn’t be a major part of your hydration.  Oh, and some of your water can come from fruits and veggies and other foods (like soup, I suppose).  Well, and if you workout, you need more fluids.  So this number isn’t so easy to come by.

WebMD says that you need between 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce of fluid for every pound of body weight.  Consume on the higher end if you are in a hot climate and/or exercise, lower end if you are a couch potato in the Arctic.  Okay, at least it’s quantifiable.

Then I found a calculation that says take your weight, multiply it by 2/3 and drink that many ounces of water.  If you exercise, add an additional 12 ounces for every 30 minutes you workout.

Of course, you don’t want to drink too much too quickly or you risk hyponatremia, which is basically low blood sodium.  The research indicates that adding electrolytes can help, but the big key seems to be just not drinking too much.  Drink to thirst, but don’t drink too much.

Putting all of this together, what does it mean?  Well, I’m no scientist, but I think the goal is to arrive at your workouts and races properly hydrated so that you don’t feel the need to overhydrate during the race.  So slowly up your fluid intake.  A lot of the calculators seem to show that at a minimum, you need half your body weight in ounces.  Yes, that includes the foods you eat, but I think it’s probably safe to just aim for half your body weight in ounces in drinkable fluids alone.  You’re not going to overhydrate from an apple or some broccoli.  Try it out, see how you feel.  But don’t force it, and try to spread it out. Nothing good will come from slamming down a liter of water right before bed because you find you’re under your water count for the day.

I used to be much better about hydration, but I’m generally better about it in the winter.  The dry air in my office leaves me feeling thirsty all the time so it’s easy for me to drink 64 ounces of water while just in the office.  In the summer, it’s cold in the office, so I’m less motivated to drink the water in front of me.  And the summer, when I’m racing in hot weather, is probably the most important time for me to worry about hydration.  So my goal is to slowly build up to drinking more fluids during the day.

Of course, this is just what I’ve managed to glean from reading various websites.  Many of you may know more.  How do you handle hydration?

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