Our bodies need water—plain and simple. Water flushes out nasty toxins, moves nutrients throughout your body, keeps your skin youthful, and even gives you energy. Not to mention, about 60% of your body weight is made of—you guessed it—water. But guidelines on how much you should drink are confusing.
The old school requirement is eight 8-ounce glasses per day. However, that guideline was suggested for everyone regardless of gender, diet, and activity level. There isn’t a single nutritional guideline out there that should be this generalized. And New York Times agrees. Writer Aaron E. Carroll revealed that the 8-glass rule isn’t even based on science. It’s merely a soundbite.
So, how much water should you drink?
New Water Intake Guidelines
The Mayo Clinic advises we bump those numbers up a bit. Based on research by The Institute of Medicine, the average man should have about 13 cups of water per day. That’s roughly 3 liters, and the amount is considered adequate. The average woman should take in 9 cups or 2.2 liters. However, don’t follow these numbers exactly. There are quite a few factors to consider.
What you eat matters. A lot of fruits, vegetables, and other foods contain water. According to TED-Ed, about a fifth of your daily water intake comes from your food. And if you’re following a high-fat diet like Paleo or Keto, your body is storing less liquid than it did before.
The average guy should drink 13 cups a day. This is assuming the average guy isn’t very active. If you’re working out daily or taking part in intense workouts, you need more. You need to drink fluids to compensate for what you’re losing at the gym. If you’re working through a HIIT session, another 2 cups should suffice. But if you’re working out intensely for an hour or more, you’ll need even more water.
The hotter it is, the more fluid you lose. Hot and humid weather causes you to sweat more. It’s easy to lose a significant amount of liquid without realizing it. Your intake should increase to account for this.
Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated
If the new numbers and contributing factors seem like a lot to remember, don’t worry. Keep a 1.5-liter bottle of water on your desk during the day. By the time you head home, the bottle should be empty. And, you can even use a water reminder app to keep you on track.
As a rule, drink at least one glass of water with each meal, and drink water before and after your workouts as well as during. You should have very few points during the day when you feel thirsty. If it happens often, bump up your intake.
Like so much of the public’s general nutrition knowledge, guidelines for water intake are evolving. Make sure you’re up to date.