By Kirsten Morningstar
Let's do a simple nonscientific test to see if you are dehydrated right now. Pinch the skin on the back of your hand. Does your skin spring back into shape, like a gymnast sticking a landing? Or does it take its sweet time spreading out and settling? If your answer is the second one, you're in need of some H2O.
You've heard us say hundreds of times how important it is to drink plenty of water. That's because we can't say it enough! If you want to lose weight, you need to drink water. If you exercise, you need to drink water. If you want healthy skin, you need to drink water.
Your body is comprised of 70% water (and your brain is 90% water!). Your blood and every cell in your body are made almost entirely from water. If you want to be alert, have organs that function properly, and get the most out of your workouts, you need to drink enough water.
We get it. Drinking enough water to stay hydrated every day can be a daunting task. Here are 25 tips that will help.
In the spirit of this article, how about pouring yourself a glass of water right now to sip as you read? Go ahead, we'll wait.
Know how much you should drink
Knowing is half the battle, right? We recommend drinking half your body weight, in ounces of water, every day. So, if you weigh 180 pounds, divide that by 2. Your magic number would be 90. That's 90 ounces of water every day, a little more than 2.5 liters.
Your number might be different
Everyone has different hydration needs, based on weight, exercise intensity, kidney function, climate, and a bunch of other stuff. If you live in Death Valley, for example, you'll want to add a few more glasses of water. Pay attention to how your body feels when it is properly hydrated and use that as a cue.
Now that you know how much you need, it's time to keep track of how much you are actually getting. Measure how many ounces your glass or bottle holds and figure out many times you'll need to refill it during the day. There are a dozen free apps that keep track of your water consumption and reward you when you reach your goal. Find one that you like and turn hydration into a game.
Rise and shine!
Drink a glass—or two!—as soon as you wake up. You haven't had any fluids for 8 hours, so this could be the most dehydrated you will be all day. Plus, it's a great way to jump-start your metabolism. Try leaving a tall glass of water on your nightstand and drink it before you get out of bed. (Don't try this if you have a cat, or it will knock the glass over in the middle of the night, splashing your face and soaking your copy of People magazine.)
Watch the clock
Set an alarm to remind you to drink every hour during the workday. When it goes off, get up, shake a leg, and take a stroll to the water cooler for a refill. You'll fulfill your water quota by quitting time.
Make it a habit
Do the timer trick above for 21 days and, congratulations, you will have formed a habit.
"But it will make me have to pee!"
Yes, it will. That's a biological fact of life. While you're in the bathroom, have a gander at the color of your pee. It should be mostly clear and odorless (unless you've been eating beets or asparagus). If it is dark or cloudy, you, my friend, are dehydrated. Drink a glass of water right away. Your body will also adjust to drinking this much water and soon, you won't be running to restroom as often.
Make more water
Every time you go to the bathroom, replenish your body with a fresh 8 ounces of water.
Pair drinking water with other activities
Fill up your water bottle before you walk your dog, check your email, or when you leave for work. Drink a glass of water before you brush your teeth or wash your face. Then, drink another glass when you are done.
Choose your vessel
We think drinking out of a glass is more appealing than swilling from a paper or Styrofoam® cup. And, it's gentler to the environment. Choose a beautiful glass or pitcher that you'll want to use frequently. Feeling fancy? How about a goblet?
Take it to go
Keep a water bottle with you at all times. Think of it as an accessory. Water bottles collided with fashion a long time ago; there are colors and styles for everyone. Splurge on one you really like, the bigger the better. Glass and stainless steel are the best choices, as they won't leach chemicals into the liquid contents. Avoid plastic bottles whenever possible.
Exercise requires more water
Being dehydrated can slow you down and zap your energy, making your cardio or weight lifting workout feel brutal. Your muscles need fluids to function fluidly, so be sure to hydrate before, during, and after exercise.
Drink a glass before bed
If it doesn't make you stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night, drink a glass before you catch some Zs to stay hydrated until morning. Or, try a soothing mug of hot water with lemon and a small drizzle of honey.
Replace other beverages with water
How many ounces of soda, juice, coffee, or beer do you imbibe on a daily basis? Come on, be honest. If you regularly drink a Venti latte and an orange soda, swap them for water. That's 32 ounces right there, not to mention the hundreds of calories eliminating those drinks will save you.
Drink when you are hungry
If you feel a snack attack coming on, drink a glass of water, then wait 15 minutes. Dehydration pangs are often misread by the body as hunger. A glass of water will replenish your body and help you feel satiated. If you are still hungry 15 minutes later, reach for a piece of fruit or a handful of raw nuts.
The drinking fountain rule
Every time you see a drinking fountain, drink for a count of 10.
Drink before you eat
Drinking water before you eat will help you feel more satiated and you will eat less. A study from the Virginia Tech Department of Nutrition suggests that drinking two glasses of water before (not during) each meal can significantly increase weight loss. Not only that, but the water drinkers in the study continued to lose weight and keep it off.
Eat your water
You can add even more hydration by eating water-packed fruits like melons, cucumbers, berries, and celery.
Pace yourself in social gatherings by drinking water between alcoholic beverages. You'll reduce your risk of a pounding hangover and help meet your daily water intake goals.
Not thrilled with the tasteless taste of water? Think it tastes like licking windows? You can give your water zing by adding a wedge of lemon, crushed mint leaves, sliced cucumbers, or strawberries. Try these delicious fruit and water "mocktails." They replenish your system with electrolytes and micronutrients at about 7 calories each.
Make it bubbly
If you are addicted to soda, and crave a fizzy refreshment, consider sparkling mineral water flavored with fruit, or invest in a SodaStream® to have an unending supply of bubbly water at your fingertips.
Give yourself a little variety
Not all of your H2O has to be room temperature, or loaded with ice. Mix it up. Serve warm water with lemon or brew a cup of herbal tea.
Suck it up
Some people find that they take bigger gulps when drinking through a straw. If you are one of these people, you might consider buying a reusable metal or glass straw. The plastic kind is coated in chemicals.
Drop your juice habit
If you are trying to lose weight, this is an easy place to cut calories. Make the transition to drinking pure water by filling your glass halfway with juice then filling the rest with flat or sparkling water. Once you get used to this, try using only 1/4 juice.
Invite your friends or office mates to participate in a water challenge with you. Set a goal of how much water each person will drink per day, then keep score. The people who skip the most glasses of water have to buy lunch.
When in doubt, drink water
Many common complaints, including headache and constipation, can be alleviated by downing a tall glass of water. Studies show that water can play a vital role in preventing more dire conditions as well, including several types of cancer. In one study, drinking more water reduced the risk of colon cancer by 45% in women and 32% in men.
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