Early on in life, you learn that drinking water is healthy and does the body good. And why not? After all, it comes from nature.
But what isn’t defined early on in life is how much water you should be drinking.
As you get older, you begin to start reading more articles that aim to ‘educate’ you, or at least that’s what they think they’re doing. You could read one thing in this article and then the total opposite of what was said in that article.
Some articles say that you should drink X number of glasses of water a day — with no definitive explanation as to the size of the glass. And then there are articles that provide you with a whole lot of mathematical jargon that leaves you feeling dumber than when you first began reading it.
Some articles say that you should keep drinking water throughout the day, and other will say that you should drink only when you’re thirsty.
With all this back-and-forth, what’s the real answer? How do we know which is right and which is “less” right, let alone downright wrong?
The Myths of Water
In a review published in the Journal of Physiology, the ‘eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day’ was put under the looking glass.
They found that the multiple claimed benefits of weight loss, improved bowel movement, decreased fatigue, improved mental awareness, the prevention of constipation were all mostly unsubstantiated.
Other myths that have gone unproven to be 100% true and accurate are:
- The color of your urine doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re dehydrated. If your urine is dark in color, that won’t mean that you’re dehydrated. It could be something else like a bladder or kidney infection.
- If you’re thirsty, you’re dehydrated. This too is not 100% accurate. Thirst can often be the best timing tool and measure to use when it comes to how much water you should be drinking. Mike Mentzer was an advocate of this rule — drink when thirsty.
- Beverages containing caffeine will dehydrate you. Again, not so 100% true. To a person who has a high caffeine tolerance, drinking coffee, tea, or sodas will actually hydrate them to some extent.
Too Much Water… A Bad Thing?
Yes, there is such a thing as consuming too much water. Heck, too much of anything is a bad thing, and water is no different. However, it does have a few exceptions.
When we’re busy going balls to the wall while working out, we break a sweat. And in that sweat, our bodies are excreting sodium — hence the salty taste of our sweat.
Anyways, when we ingest lots of water while working out, our blood plasma levels increase. And with the decreased levels of sodium in our system and the increase in blood plasma, the sodium that’s left in our body fluids becomes diluted.
After that happens, hyponatremia (low blood sodium) occurs. Hyponatremia can have effects on tissue damage as well as affect heart, muscle, and brain function in a negative way.
The Symptoms of Hyponatremia
Below is are a few early symptoms of hyponatremia that can be caught before it becomes severe:
- Muscle cramps
- Weakness in the body
When the above symptoms arise, hyponatremia can still be avoided by reducing your water intake.
Consuming too much water while putting yourself through an intense and sweat-busting workout can have its fair share of consequences, but not consuming enough water could also have some pretty damaging effects on the human body.
What Happens When You Don’t Drink Enough Water
1. Kidney Health Suffers
Without consuming enough water, your kidneys, along with many other organs and bodily functions, will suffer for it. Without water, the kidneys cannot function properly, causing the liver to work on its behalf.
When this occurs, fatigue begins to set in and liver toxicity begins to increase.
When your body lacks oxygen and has an increase in blood pressure (which is regulated by water intake), you could experience frequent headaches.
3. Risk of Urinary Tract Infection
Consuming enough water during the day is essential for maintaining the health and function of your urinary tract.
By frequently emptying your bladder helps to clear and flush out your urinary tract. Without letting out a frequent stream, bacterias have a higher chance of building up and populating inside your p*ss pipe and bladder
4. Muscle Cramping and Joint Pain
Earlier it was mentioned that by having an increase in blood plasma levels while working out can cause muscle cramps due to the unbalance of sodium within our bodies.
However, by not consuming enough water during the day, our bodies will become dehydrated which could cause muscle cramps and joint pains.
Water acts as a lubricant and cooling liquid for our bodies. Without enough of it, our bodies could react negatively.
How Much Water Should You Really Drink?
After everything that’s been said, no clear cut answer has yet been given. There are many answers out there, all with their fair share of positive results and feedback. However, with all that said and done, it comes down to the individual’s needs.
No person is the same as the one standing next to them. What might work for 50 people might not work for the next 100 people standing in line. And while there are some handy online calculators to provide you with some sort of guideline, none are truly 100% accurate.
So, what I would suggest is that you go au naturel. Drink whenever you are feeling thirsty.
With regards to training, be sure to drink a good amount of water an hour or so before you hit the weights — between 10-16oz. should suffice.
During training, drink 6-8oz. of water for every 15 minutes that you spend training — lean more towards 8oz. if you’re a heavy sweater.
However, during a 24-hour course, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that 12 quarts is the most that you should be drinking. That’s quite a lot of water and I sure hope that none of you drink that much during the day.
Knowing how much water to drink and when can be out to be overcomplicated way too easily.
Just stick to listening to your body and your thirst needs. Use the above guidelines about consuming water during training as a guideline to help you get that part nailed down.
At the end of the day, you just need to learn to listen to your body.