How Much Water!?!

How much water should you be drinking? A lot of people talk about how they struggle to drink the daily recommendation for water, which usually seems to be along the very descriptive lines of, eight glasses of water a day. Well, depending on the size of the glasses, and I don’t think they’re talking about shot glasses, that seems like a lot. That’s because it is.

I have no idea where it came from, I’m not sure anyone does, this notion that you should be drinking eight glasses of water a day. There’s no scientific study, that I’m aware of, that suggests this, or claims it’s beneficial to your body. I have a feeling it comes from some pretty full on advertising we see constantly. Sports drinks adverts, bottled water adverts, all warning of the “dangers of dehydration” and lost electrolytes. Serious dehydration doesn’t kick in for days. Your body will warn you way before that. And electrolytes, well, they don’t need replenishing until after an hour and a half of steady, and moderately strenuous exercise. So, that only really applies to long distance runners.

So, when should you drink water? The answer might blow your mind, but when you're thirsty. That’s your body’s way of telling you it’s “dehydrated” and needs some fluids. Now, I will add certain scenarios to that, such as, when you’re ill. If you’re being sick or you have diarrhoea, that’s when your body can expel a sizeable amount of water, and in a very short space of time. When you’re in that kind of situation you should be thinking about getting some water back inside you. I would also say, during intense exercise or intense heat, but again, your body should already be telling you about that, so it’s just a case of listening to it.

In fact, you should probably be careful of the amount you drink, especially when you’re exercising. It’s much easier to over-hydrate, and be at risk of hyponatremia, for example. Studies of marathon runners have found that, in some cases, one sixth of the runners consumed so much water during the race, that they actually finished heavier than when they started! That’s clearly way too much. If you have access to clean drinking water, it’s never really going to be an issue. Stop worrying about water, and drink when you feel thirsty. See you again next week.

Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer