Last week, I discovered that 75% of Americans are dehydrated. That is kind of crazy to me. Especially in America, where water is essentially free, how is it that so many aren’t getting enough? Surely, I thought, I am in the 25% of Americans that are properly hydrated. So, I decided to track my water intake to see if my hypothesis was true. Here is what I learned:
1. I don’t drink as much as I think I do.
The recommended daily water intake for a woman is about 2.2 liters. I keep a two liter jug in the fridge that generally runs dry by the end of the day. Because of that, I thought that I could reach 2.2 liters easily. It turns out I was mistaken. I noticed that I have a habit of dumping out half-emptied glasses and bottles of water before refilling them. A pretty serious habit. So, I was heading to the kitchen often to refill my glass with fresh, cool water, giving the illusion that I was drinking at least two liters per day. In reality, most times I made it to about seven eight-ounce glasses per day–about 1.6 liters.
2. The amount of water I drink has a direct relation to how I feel.
While tracking my water intake, I also jotted down some of my feelings for the day. On days where I made it to 6 glasses, I noted feeling sluggish and tired. On days where I exceeded 8 glasses, I was energetic and productive. I didn’t think my water intake could have such a sudden striking effect on my body. I learned to think about my body as a gas tank. If there is no gas in it today, it won’t run properly today, even if it had a full tank of gas in it the day before.
3. When I’m not in the mood to drink, I should eat water-rich food.
I noticed myself craving water-rich foods, such as soups and especially fruits like watermelon and strawberries. If you find yourself failing to reach the daily goal of 2.2 liters, keep in mind that water intake from food counts, too! Some people get a fairly significant amount of their daily water from food, while others get a smaller percentage. Everyone is different–just know what works for you!
4. I’m more likely to drink water at certain times rather than others. And that’s okay.
It is ideal to drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning, because your body dehydrates over the night and the fluid levels need to be replenished immediately. For me, this is simply not possible. It sounds dramatic, but I can hardly choke down a glass of water for the first couple of hours after I wake up. I sip throughout the day, but I definitely consume the bulk of my daily water while eating meals. That has been shown to slow digestion quite a bit, but so what? If you have the same problem as me, you should work at training yourself to hydrate before you eat, but if that doesn’t work don’t sweat it! The most important thing is getting gas in that tank, even if it’s not under ideal circumstances.
I’ll be honest, before this experiment, I would brag about how much I drank. I carry water with me nearly every where I go, drink a ton at restaurants, and keep cool jugs of water in the fridge that I deplete daily, but throughout the week I had to concede to the fact that I am part of the 75%. It’s pretty likely that you are, too. So, challenge yourself to reach your daily liter goal! I know I will.