The Amount of Water You Actually Need Per Day



Eight, 8 oz. glasses of water a day: it’s a rule that’s been burned into our brains for years as the ideal amount of fluid to drink each day. Yet no matter how many times experts say that’s not quite accurate, many still believe “8×8” is the magic amount.

The truth: How much water you should drink each day really, truly depends on the person, Robert A. Huggins, PhD, of the University of Connecticut explained to Health. “Fluid needs are dynamic and need to be individualized from person to person. Factors such as sex, environmental conditions, level of heat acclimatization, exercise or work intensity, age, and even diet need to be considered.”

What this means is that simply listening to your thirst is the best way to gauge when to drink. Another way to monitor hydration is to look at your pee before you flush. You want it to look like lemonade; if it’s darker than that, you should down a glass.

RELATED: 7 Easy Ways to Drink More Water

But what about exercise?

To gauge how much water you specifically should take in during exercise, Huggins recommends doing a small experiment on yourself.

First, before you work out weigh yourself wearing with little to no clothing. “If you can, [make sure you’re hydrated beforehand] and avoid drinking while you exercise to make the math easy,” Huggins says. But if you get thirsty, don’t ignore it: drink some and make sure to measure the amount.

After you’re done exercising, weigh yourself again. Then, take your first weight and subtract the second weight, and you’ll end up with how much fluid you lost. Convert this to kilograms (if you search it, Google will return the number for you or try a metric converter), then drink that amount in liters. (If you drank some water during exercise, subtract the amount of water you drank from your final total.)

RELATED: 14 Surprising Causes of Dehydration

This is your “sweat rate,” Huggins says. It’s the amount of water you should drink during or after your next workout to replace what you’ve lost. (You can also use an online calculator for sweat rate; just plug in your numbers.)

Complicated much? We agree. Huggins estimates that most people lose between one to two liters of sweat for each hour of moderate intensity exercise. But ultimately thirst should still be your guide.

Why it’s important to get the right amount

You already know that dehydration can be dangerous, but over-hydrating may actually be just as bad.

RELATED: 12 Reasons Why Dehydration Is Bad for Your Body

In fact, a new consensus report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that many athletes are at risk of exercise-associated hyponatremia, which is an electrolyte imbalance that can be caused by drinking too much liquid. This can lead to nausea and vomiting, headaches, fatigue, and in serious cases, coma and even death.

While it was previously thought to only be a concern for long-distance athletes competing in events like marathons and Ironmans, the paper (which was funded by CrossFit, Inc.) concluded that many athletes are actually dangerously over-drinking during events as short as 10K races and even bikram yoga classes, Tamara Hew-Butler, PhD, lead author of the paper, explained to Health.

Because “it is impossible to recommend a generalized range especially during exercise when conditions are dynamic and changing, there is not one size that fits all!” she adds.

So the best method to keep you in that sweet spot between over- and under-hydrated is, as with many things, to listen to your body.

RELATED: Fat Water Is Now a Thing
Source: Nutrition

6 Weird Diet Tricks That Actually Work


Some clients come to me in search of a complete eating overhaul, including a meal plan with specific portions and recipes. Many others, however, simply want the shortcuts.

While it’s true that obtaining long-term weight loss success isn’t that simple, I am happy to report there are several research-backed easy tricks that really do help.

Add the tactics below to your daily habits, and you can cut calories, fight cravings, and ultimately, lose weight.

RELATED: 7 Foods That Fight Fat

Drink water before meals

This may just be the easiest, most cost-effective weight loss tip there is, and a new study published in the journal Obesity adds to its credibility. Researchers separated obese adults into two groups. The first was asked to drink 16 oz. of flat water (no bubbles), 30 minutes before meals, while the second was advised to imagine that they had a full stomach before eating. In the end, the volunteers who followed through with “pre-loading” with water before they ate lost about 9.5 pounds, compared to 1.75 pounds for those who didn’t. The water group also shed on average three additional pounds, compared to the imagination group.

Previous studies have shown that drinking a few cups of water before meals naturally results in eating fewer calories, and other research has shown that a 16-ounce dose of water upped metabolic rate by about 30% within 10 minutes. While the effect peaked 30 to 40 minutes later, those little bump ups in calorie burning can snowball meal after meal.

RELATED: Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

Slurp soup (even cold varieties)

Adding an item to your order as a way to cut calories might seem counter-intuitive, but it can slash your caloric intake for the whole meal. That’s what happened when researchers had volunteers eat a low-calorie soup before lunch in an oft-cited 2007 study from the journal Appetite. In the end, participants reduced their total calorie intake at lunch (including both the soup and entree) by 20%, compared to when they didn’t eat soup. The reduction in calories also didn’t result in more hunger or less satisfaction.

And if you’re thinking, “Soup in the hot summer, are you crazy?!” consider cold options. The study used soups that provided 100-150 calories per serving, and there are plenty of chilled choices that hit that mark, like gazpacho, curried zucchini, or borscht.

RELATED: 14 Ways You Lie to Yourself About Your Weight

When faced with temptation, visualize your previous meal

Yep, you can think yourself slim. When scientists at the University of Birmingham asked volunteers to recall the same day’s lunch they found that those who could do so vividly ate fewer snacks later in the day. A group of volunteers was instructed to be mindful while they ate lunch by focusing on things like the look, aroma, and physical sensations of chewing and swallowing.

Later in the day, while presented with snacks, volunteers were asked to recall how distinctly they could remember their lunch. Those who were mindful were able to recall their meal most intensely and they ate significantly fewer snacks, compared to two control groups. (A second group read a news article while they ate; the third group wasn’t given any instructions at all.)

The takeaway: as often as you can, eat without distractions, and if you feel a snack attack coming on, conjure up the memory of a previous meal. It may make the difference between eating one cookie or a handful.

RELATED: 12 Weight-Loss Secrets From Celebrity Chefs

Use visual portion trackers

Cornell University scientists call them speed bumps, or stop signs, but you can also think of them as “evidence.” In one study, students whose tables weren’t cleared, allowing them to see how many chicken wings they’d torn through via the number of bones left, ate fewer than those who had the remnants taken away.

The same technique can be used for other foods, like olive pits, shrimp served with tails, pizza slices, if you leave the crust, or anything eaten off a stick. According to researchers an empty stick signals your brain to think “done” even if you’re not consciously aware of it.

You can even create visuals that cue you to stop on your own, like putting popcorn into a small bowl rather than eating it straight from the bag (empty bowl=finished), or eating small cheese cubes off of toothpicks rather than on their own.

RELATED: The Real Reason You’re Not Losing Weight

Color coordinate your meals

Another Cornell study found that a greater contrast between the color of your food and the color of your plate may naturally help you to eat less. In the study, diners served themselves pasta from a buffet that included either tomato or Alfredo (white) sauce. Diners were randomly given red or white plates, so some had had contrasting colorsred sauce on a white platewhile others had matching colors. Those in the latter group served themselves 22% more than those who saw differing hues. While researchers aren’t totally sure why the color made such a big difference, aiming for contrast is another simple strategy to put to the test.

Smell your food before eating

It’s said that we eat with our eyes as well as our stomachs, but we also eat with our noses. One recent study published in the journal Flavour found that the stronger the smell, the smaller the bite. When volunteers had the ability to control their own dessert portions, those given more aromatic samples ate 5 to 10% less.

Bottom line: scent plays a role in satisfaction, so take a moment or two to smell your food before you dive in, and add aromatic seasonings to meals, like fresh ginger, basil, cinnamon, or rosemary, to enhance the sensory experience.

RELATED: 5 Tips to Restart Your Weight Loss

What’s your take on this topic? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the New York Yankees MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Cynthia is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her brand new book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.
Source: Nutrition