So it’s been a few days since I posted last, but if you remember, we talked a lot about calculating how many calories you need to sustain life in a day. Once you have that number, we can talk a lot about how much water you need to consume a day. The amount of water you consume in a day depends on your size and your activity level, just like the amount of food you consume in a day does (go figure – it’s not just 8 cups a day for everyone). Here’s how to determine how much water you should be drinking in a day:
Take your daily caloric intake (calculated from the last post) and divide by 240.
So, if your caloric intake was 1600 calories per day, you would do 1600/240 = 6.7 cups of water per day (1 cup of water is 8 oz).
However, if you exercise in a way that makes you sweat a lot, you need to drink water to replenish what you lost through sweat. One way you can account for this is to weigh yourself immediately before and immediately after your workout. For each pound of weight that you lost during training, you should drink 2 cups (16oz) of water. It is possible to lose POUNDS of weight during one exercise bout, which is why weight loss programs always direct you to weigh yourself at the same time each day. Your weight will fluctuate based on how much water you retain or lose, but it’s important to realize that water weight benefits you, and is not making you fatter – it’s actually helping your body be maximally efficient at processing the foods you ingest!
One way to tell if you’re properly hydrated is to look at the color of your urine. The lighter colored it is, the more hydrated you are. Dark yellow urine is a sign that you are dehydrated, and should drink more water. The ideal color urine is a pale yellow color, so if you see that, you’re properly hydrated!
However, if you drank alcohol recently and notice that your urine is clear colored, you may believe that means you are properly hydrated. Unfortunately, one side effect of alcohol is that it turns off our body’s hormone that protects us against dehydration and affects our urine color, so you may be extremely dehydrated with clear urine if you consume a lot of alcohol.
Remember, hydration is dependent on water. Many beverages claim to “quench your thirst,” but they actually dehydrate you! Soda/pop products are the main culprit here. If you’re trying to hydrate yourself, focus on drinking plain old water – it’s the best thing for you!