Calculate Your Fluid Needs
Divide your weight in pounds by 2.
This is how many ounces of water you need if you are inactive, not pregnant/breastfeeding, and don’t sweat a lot.
If you are Active* –
For every 30min of moderate to vigorous intensity activity you do, add 12 ounces of fluid to the result above.
If you are Pregnant or breastfeeding –
Add 24-32 ounces (24 ounces for women weighing less than average to 32 ounces for women weighing more than average.)
*If you sweat a lot through out the day and you notice that your sweat comes out very salty (you see white rings on your clothes), and/or if you train in intense endurance exercise, you may need to add electrolytes to your water. Use electrolyte tablets or try making your own by mixing 5 cups water + ½ teaspoon salt + 5 teaspoons sugar.
We’ve all heard it: “Everyone needs eight 8oz glasses of water a day”. But, why would a 5 foot tall inactive female need the same amount of water as a 6 foot tall male who sweats all day at his landscaping job? Fluid needs are determined by a variety of factors including height, weight, activity level, sweat output, whether one is pregnant, breastfeeding, or sick, and more! In fact, most adults need MORE than the traditionally recommended 64 ounces of water a day. (See side bar to calculate your fluid needs.)
Why is Hydration Important?
Your body is 55-75% water and every cell in your body needs water to function correctly. Water supports digestion and detoxification and lubricates joints to make movement easier. If you have arthritis, the Arthritis Foundation recommends “pre-hydrating” (drinking water prior to starting exercise) to help decrease discomfort with physical activity. In addition, early studies have shown that dehydration may also be associated with moodiness and decreased alertness.
Can’t I Just Drink When I’m Thirsty?
Maybe. When we are young, our sense of thirst is aligned with our water needs, but as we age, our sense of thirst is not as accurate. If you drink fluids based on thirst and your urine is darker, or if you are over 65 years old, it is important to determine your actual daily needs and make a conscious decision to strive to drink that amount. Pay attention to your urine color and make adjustments from there.
Do Other Beverages Count?
Yes, other beverages, even caffeinated beverages and alcohol, “count” towards your fluid intake; however, sugary beverages and alcohol can lead to negative health outcomes. Keep the majority of your fluid intake coming from water and/or carbonated water and include some unsweetened tea and/or coffee if you like. You can make a flavored water drink by soaking herbs like mint or basil, with cut up fruit or vegetables in water or carbonated water. This adds loads of flavor with no sugar or calories. You also get water from the food you eat. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables also adds to your hydration status.
How Can I tell if I’m Hydrated?
Start drinking your personal estimated needs (see side bar), and after 3-5 days, notice the color of your urine. If it’s pale yellow, then you’re doing great! If it’s dark yellow to brown, then you need to add even more water. If it’s completely clear, you may want to consider cutting back on fluids or adding electrolytes to your water.
Hydrate for Life Year-Round!
Summer is a terrific time to start paying closer attention to your water intake. In the dry climate of Truckee/Tahoe, it’s harder to realize how much you sweat because the dry air wicks sweat away so quickly. Even if you don’t feel sweaty after being active outside or sitting in the sun all day, it’s important to know that you DO sweat and are losing fluids. Solidify your hydration habit now, and by the time winter rolls around, you’ll be used to drinking plenty of water to meet your needs.