Have you heard that you should drink 8 glasses of water per day but wondered if that was the right amount for you? You definitely aren’t alone. But did you know that this Rule of Thumb that we all strive to reach isn’t actually based on any scientific finding?
Each one of us has different fluid needs and that amount may be too high or too low based on a lot of factors. Your hydration needs are based on your age, height, weight, activity level. In addition, the amount of fluid you lose through sweat, respiration, and urination also indicates how much water you should drink each day.
So how do you know exactly how much water you need each day? It’s pretty simple- listen to your thirst signals and look at the color of your urine. Your body is preprogrammed to give you a heads up when your fluid levels drop to low and it does this by activated your thirst signals. For the majority of healthy individuals, research has found thirst to be a pretty reliable way to make sure you drink enough. But if you aren’t sure, you can always check out your urine. Sounds funny right? But the lighter your urine, the more hydrated you tend to be. Dark colored urine can be a sign you need to up your fluid intake. But keep in mind some vitamins and medication can change the color or your urine so this method isn’t completely fool proof.
But just because you don’t need to obsess over getting 8 cups of water every day, you should still be mindful to drink water when you can. Drinking enough has been shown to improve energy levels and can even give your metabolism a boost. For instance, one study found drinking 17 ounces of water elevated metabolism temporarily by as much as 30%! For people prone to medical conditions such as kidney stones and gout, staying hydrated can also help to reduce the risk of a flare up as well.
So how much water will you aim to drink every day? I’m still striving for my eight cups per day, but I won’t stress over it if some days my thirst tells me I need a little more or a little less.