How much water should you drink? Busting the myths!
Water is vitally important for your body. It is used to transport nutrition to the cells in your body, helps transport waste out of your body, and is used to cool down your body when it is overheating. When you run low on liquids, and this can already happen when you lose a few percent of liquids without replenishing it, you will feel sluggish, your metabolism will slow down, and you run the risk of a heat stroke or passing out. In this article we will take a deeper look at how much water you should drink and the myth that still circle this subject.
Myth: You should drink 2 liters (8 glasses) of water a day
Busted: The amount of water you should drink depends on your individual needs and the circumstances. The rule of 2 liters a day is just a rule of thumb and should not be taken too literally. Some people will require more liquids while others will do fine with less than 2 liters a day. The exact amount you will need as an individual depends on many factors like the volume of your body, your gender, your level of activity, and a range of external factors like the weather and hours of sunshine you are exposed to.
The best way to track if you are hydrated enough is keeping an eye on your urine. Your urine should be clear without smell, or only have a light hint of yellow color in it. In case your urine is really yellow or has a strong smell it is a clear indicator that you should increase the amount of water you drink on a day.
Myth: Coffee and tea do not count as liquids as it dehydrates you
Busted: It is true that excessive caffeine will lead to dehydration where you pee more than you would if you would have consumed plain water. But excessive in this case means about 300 milligrams of caffeine which will require 2–3 cups of coffee. And if you exercise within 2–3 hours of drinking an excessive amount of caffeine the dehydration effects will be minimalized. A normal amount of coffee or tea does not lead to dehydration, and sports mitigate the effects of excessive coffee or tea consumption.
Myth: Drinking plain water is recommended for hydration
Busted: Drinking plain water is highly recommended for hydration when you exercise less than an hour in a moderate or cold climate. But when you train for a longer period of time, or in the outdoor heat of Thailand, you might sweat out a lot of salt. And this will have negative effects on your body as salt is used to regulate the fluids in your body. The best way to stay hydrated in these circumstances is to supplement with salt during your exercise. You can do this by taking a sports drink that has lots of salt (sodium) or, if you want to avoid the high levels of calories in these drinks, make your own sport drink by mixing some salt, sugar, and lemon juice in your water.
Myth: The more you drink the better
Busted: While the effects of being hydrated are positive, you should not overdo you water consumption. Once your body is fully hydrated it will just get rid of any excess water via urine meaning you will have to make many regular trips to the toilet. Besides, doing sports with a stomach full of water, or a filled blather, will result in discomfort and will affect your training negatively. As soon as your urine only has a slight hint of yellow and no smell you have reached your optimal level of hydration and you can slow down your water consumption to stay at that same level during the day.