How Much Water You Should Drink - and Eat! - Every Day
When it comes to your health, hydration is key. Drinking six to eight glasses of water each day is a common hydration recommendation, but the average adult actually needs even more water to be fully hydrated! Having the right amount of water is extremely important for your body:
- Water makes up around 75 percent each of your brain and muscles.
- Water regulates body temperature.
- Water helps carry oxygen and nutrients to your cells.
- Water protects and cushions your vital organs.
There are many physical factors that determine the amount of water each person needs – your weight, the amount of exercise you get and the climate you live in all affect how much water you should drink every day. To get started, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) provides these guidelines for daily water intake based on the average person:
- Women – around 2.7 liters each day (or about 11 8-ounce cups).
- Men – around 3.7 liters each day (or about 15 8-ounce cups).
These numbers are a good starting point, and you can adjust from them based on your hydration needs. One way to monitor your hydration is to pay attention to the color of your urine – if it is clear or a light color, you have plenty of fluid in your system.
Paying attention to hydration is especially important when you are exercising. When exercising, many people lose 1 - 2 quarts of fluid per hour by sweating, and athletes can lose even more. To stay hydrated, drink water before, during and after exercise to replace any lost fluids.
Water is the first beverage to reach for any time you’re looking to hydrate because it is sugar- and calorie-free, but juice, tea, coffee and other beverages can be counted toward fluid needs as well. If you have heart failure or advanced kidney disease, make a point to check with your doctors about what fluids are safest for you.
Beverages aren’t the only source of water, either – according to the NAS, up to 20 percent of our hydration comes from food. Next time you’re looking for a healthy snack, “eat” your water with these fruits and vegetables that have high water content:
- Green peppers
- Iceberg lettuce
About the Expert
Kate Watts, MS, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian.