Water—and drinking enough water—is so important. When we’re properly hydrated, we’ll simply feel better overall, but when we’re not drinking enough water, our health, our energy, and even our transformation goals can suffer. Water can be found in basically everything: In the ground, bodies of water, clouds, air, plants, pretty much all of the food we eat (except for oils), and in each one of us. In fact, water makes up 60% of our bodies, and water is a major component in some crucial parts of our bodies too:
- Lungs: 83% water
- Muscles and kidneys: 79% water
- Brain and heart: 73% water
- Skin: 64% water
- Bones: 31% water
When it comes to our body weight, the water weight in our bodies accounts for anywhere from 45-75% of our total weight, depending on how hydrated we are. Since water can make up so much of our body weight, fluctuations in that number on the scale can be caused by the changing levels of water in the body, so keep that in mind on weigh-in days.
Water is crucial for not only feeling good, but for our survival as well. We can go without food for 20-60 days but we’ll only survive for about 3 days without water, according to some experts. So besides being a huge key to survival, why is drinking water so important?
The Benefits of Drinking Water
Drinking water—staying properly hydrated—has so many benefits, many of which we might not even realize:
- Helps with cognitive function: Short-term memory, alertness, and focus
- Boosts our energy
- Improves our mood
- Helps prevent some medication conditions including kidney stones, UTIs, hypertension, exercise-induced asthma, and others
- Increases the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from the foods we eat
- Helps to prevent constipation
- Assists in regulating our body temperature
- Leads to better workouts
- Protects joints, body tissues, and spinal cord
- Can help us lose weight
Pro tip: If you’re struggling to lose weight or your weight loss has plateaued, look at how much water you’re drinking. If you’re not drinking enough, that could be the key to jumpstarting your progress again!
- Helps us digest the foods we eat
- Improves blood circulation
- Keeps our skin looking healthy
Besides being the key to our survival, and even with all of these benefits, 3 out of 4 of us are chronically dehydrated. And that’s not a good thing.
All About Dehydration
While it’s so important to understand how essential drinking enough water is for our physical and mental health, it’s also easy to get dehydrated, and even being a little dehydrated can have a negative effect on our bodies. Check out these stats (1):
- .5% dehydrated = Increased strain on our heart
- 1% dehydrated = Decreased aerobic endurance
- 3% dehydrated = Decreased muscular endurance
- 4% dehydrated = Decreased muscle strength, decreased motor skills, and heat cramps
- 5% dehydrated = Heat exhaustion, fatigue, cramping, decreased mental capacity
- 6% dehydrated = Heatstroke, physical exhaustion, and coma
- 10-20% dehydrated = Death
Here’s another interesting—and somewhat frightening—stat: Mild dehydration (around 2% dehydrated) can have the same effect on our circulatory system as smoking a cigarette! So, how can we tell if we’re dehydrated? Here are some things to watch for:
- Urine color: If you’re properly hydrated, your urine should be the color of light lemonade. If it’s darker than that, it’s time to drink some water!
- Skin pull test: To check your hydration levels, pinch some skin on the back of your hand, hold it for a few seconds, and then let it go. If it bounces back immediately, your hydration levels are on point. If it doesn’t, drink some water!
- Feeling hungry: Thirst can often mask as hunger, so if you’re hungry, drink a tall glass of water, and if that hunger goes away, you’re thirsty, not hungry. Again, drink some water!
- Other symptoms of dehydration to watch for besides thirst: Headaches, chills, nausea, dry mouth, clammy skin, dizziness, shortness of breath, elevated heart rate, tiredness, lack of concentration, in a bad mood. Whether or not these symptoms mean you’re actually dehydrated, drinking some water can never hurt, right?!
Some medications can also cause dehydration, so be sure you understand the side effects of your medications, and if you have questions or concerns, consult with your healthcare professionals.
How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?
We recommend drinking ½ your body weight in ounces every single day. What does that look like? If you weigh 150 lbs, drink 75 ounces. Every single day. During the summer, especially if you live in a hot and/or humid climate, drink more water. If you’re working out, here are some additional recommendations:
- Before working out: Drink 17-20 ounces two hours before you start your workout. If you work out first thing in the morning, drink some water first.
- During working out: Drink 7-10 ounces every 10-20 minutes.
- After working out: Drink 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost due to sweating during exercise. If you don’t want to weigh before working out, make an educated guess and drink that much and maybe even a bit more. Then pay attention to your hydration levels like we suggested before.
What “counts” towards your daily water goal? Ideally, only water. Realistically, count anything with water in it (protein shakes, juices, smoothies, coffee, tea, etc.) that you drink throughout the day.
We’ll recommend and track your daily water consumption for you in The Transform App! Try the app for FREE for 7 days here.
Seven Tips for Hitting that Daily Water Goal
While dehydration is a real concern, staying hydrated can be simple! You just have to drink water. But if you’re having a hard time getting all that water in, here are some helpful tips:
- Try the 10-gulp rule. This is our favorite way to hit that water goal! Every time you pick up your water bottle, or any time you go to drink some water, drink 10 gulps. You’ll hit your goal in no time!
- Use a water infusion pitcher. Add your favorite fruit to the pitcher, and your water will have that fruity flavor. If you don’t have an infusion pitcher, put your favorite fruit in a pitcher of water, store it in the fridge, and then add the water to your water bottle or a glass.
- Add 0 or low-calorie add-ins to your water. If you struggle with drinking plain water, or simply want some flavor, a water add-in is a great solution!
We’ve got some great options for water add-ins!
Hydration is a caffeine-free add-in that not only helps to boost your hydration levels, but it also adds mental clarity and some vitamins and minerals.
Boost Shot is a water add-in that can aid fat loss and give you energy and focus.
- Set alarms on your phone to remind you to drink water throughout the day. It’s easy to get busy, and then, all of a sudden, you have to drink a lot of water at the end of the day, which can disrupt your sleep that night with bathroom breaks.
- Take water with you everywhere. And we mean everywhere. You’ve heard the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind,” and this definitely applies to drinking water. So, keep your water bottle close all day long.
- Drink a glass of water right after you wake up in the morning. Not only will this get you well on your way to nailing your water goal first thing, but it has other benefits as well: Improve skin and hair health, reduce daily calorie intake (which is important if weight loss is your goal), increase metabolism and energy, increase capability to fight off infections, help flush your bowels and any toxins, and reduce headaches and heartburn.
- Drink a glass of water before every meal. This tip can help you nail your daily water goal, and it can also help keep you from overeating since you’ll already have something in your stomach.
Drinking enough water every day and keeping your hydration levels constant are crucial to overall health and for achieving your transformation goals. Which hydration tip will you try out first? Happy hydrating!
(1): Bernardi, John, et al. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. 3rd ed., Precision Nutrition, 2018; 269.