Winter Hydration: Are you getting enough water?

Our bodies are made up of mostly water.  The water in our body regulates our temperature, cushions our organs and helps our digestive system. Each day we take in water through beverages and foods. But we also lose water through sweat, urine and bowel movements. In the summer, it’s easy to remember to drink water to replenish our bodies. But did you know that it’s equally important in the winter?  

In the winter, the air is dryer and your body works harder to get moisture into your system. (source) In addition, in the cold weather, your body doesn’t necessarily give you the cues to drink the same way it does in the summer. Throw in multiple cups of coffee a day to stay warm and we can inadvertently end up dehydrated without even realizing it.

How much water is the right amount to drink on a daily basis? Most websites and books say that you should drink 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water each day. Using the 8×8 approach maybe a good starting point. But each person’s water intake is individualized based on body weight and activity level.  

Below is a good starting point:

Divide you body weight in pounds by 2 to calculate the number of ounces you need to drink on a daily basis.

Of course, on the days that you exercise, you may consider adding more water to your daily intake. The more you sweat, the more water you need to replace. 

The American Council on Exercise offers the following suggestions for hydration during periods of exercise:

“Hydration Hints

  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two hours before the start of exercise.
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
  • Drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.

Hint: Rehydration occurs faster in the presence of sodium, regardless of whether it is provided in a sports drink.” (source)

Of course, there are a number of fruits and vegetables such as lettuce, cucumbers, celery, watermelon and spinach which provide water as part of the daily water intake. However, people with certain medical conditions may need to adjust their daily intake.

Here are a few tips?

  • Try infusing your water with fruit or vegetables or mint to add some flavors without any added sugar. Don’t worry about the naturally occurring sugar in the fruit or veggies. It’s so minimal. Stop worrying, trust me.
  • I use a 24 ounce non-BPA water bottle.  I set a goal to drink 3 full bottles or so based on my ounces goal. Again, this number is different for everyone.
  • I also like non-sweetened herbal teas that I steep myself. But I try to keep that to minimum.
  • You may find using an water tracking app on your phone or setting an alarm to remind you to drink water.

One note of caution: There are a lot of people who do 100 ounces/day water challenges and they look for their urine to be clear as a sign that things are working well. Clear urine isn’t a definitive sign of health. There are so many other factors that point to health. Too much water isn’t always a good thing.

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