Most of us know we should drink plenty of water each day to keep our body running in high gear. Water regulates our body’s thermostat, cushions our joints, shuttles oxygen and nutrients to cells, flushes toxins from organs and hydrates our skin. Drinking more water might also improve your mood, sharpen your metal focus and help you lose weight.
The most recent guidelines, published in 2004, advise healthy adults living in temperate climates consume 12 to 13 cups (men) and 9 cups (women) of water each day. Pregnant women need 10 cups of water each day and women who breastfeed should drink 13 cups.
If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to replace what you’ve lost. Hot, humid weather also drives up the body’s need for water.
All beverages – excluding alcoholic drinks, which cause your body to lose water – count towards your daily water requirement. In addition to plain water, milk, plant-based beverages, fruit juice, coffee, tea, even soft drinks also hydrate you. (Even so, I don’t recommend you quench your thirst with sugar-sweetened beverages.)
If you’re struggling to meet your daily water quota, use the following tips to amp up your hydration.
Sip on a berry smoothie
Start your day by hydrating your body with an antioxidant-packed smoothie. But it’s not just the cow’s milk or almond or coconut beverage that adds water to smoothies (milk is 91 per cent water).
Berries also contain large amounts of water in proportion to their weight, with strawberries leading the pack (92 per cent water) followed by raspberries (87 per cent), blueberries (85 per cent) and cherries (81 per cent).
Start with a “water appetizer”
Make a habit of drinking 16 ounces of water before each meal. Doing so will put a big dent in your daily water requirement and it can help you feel full and, as a result, help prevent you from overeating.
A randomized trial published in the journal Obesity in 2010 found that among overweight middle-aged and older adults following a 1500-calorie diet, those who were told to drink 16 ounces of water before each meal lost an additional five pounds over three months compared to the non-water group.
Eat your water
Roughly 20 per cent of our daily water comes from food. Hydrate with water-packed seasonal summer fruit such as watermelon (92 per cent water), cantaloupe (90 per cent), peaches (88 per cent) and plums (85 per cent).
Vegetables are good sources of water too. Snack on crudité consisting of sliced cucumber (96 per cent), celery (95 per cent), zucchini strips (95 per cent), radish (95 per cent) and cherry tomatoes (94 per cent). (All in season now.)
Take an iced coffee break
Cool off and hydrate with an unsweetened iced coffee with a splash of milk. A Grande at Starbuck’s provides 16 ounces of fluid for only 25 calories.
While older studies suggested caffeine had a weak diuretic effect, more recent studies do not. If you regularly consume moderate amounts of caffeine, it does not cause your body to lose more water than you ingest.
If you find plain water boring, flavour it with lime and basil leaves, raspberries and fresh mint, mango and pineapple chunks or honeydew and cucumber slices. To infuse more flavour, allow the water chill for a few hours in the fridge.
Or, chill plain water with naturally flavored ice cubes. When filling ice cube trays with water add a few blueberries, a strawberry, mint leaves or crushed lemongrass to each ice cube; freeze for later use.
Many natural food stores and some grocery stores carry True Citrus, a line of natural citrus flavours for water (no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no preservatives).
If you prefer bubbly water over still, it still counts whether it’s club soda, Pellegrino or water from your Soda Stream sparkling water maker. (And contrary to popular belief, carbonated water does not leach calcium from your bones.)
Curb after dinner cravings
Beat your evening snacking habit – and achieve your daily water goal – by sipping on steeped herbal tea, flavoured black tea or a dried fruit blend (available in tea shops).
Make it convenient
Out of sight, out of mind. Keep a filled bottle or glass of water on your desk at work and on your kitchen counter at home. Take a water bottle with you to the gym and carry one when exercising outdoors.
Use an App
If you need accountability – and a constant reminder of your daily goal – keep track of your water intake using an app on your smart phone such as Daily Water, Waterlogged and Water Alert.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.