Summer is in full swing, and for many of us, that means more outdoor activities and time in the sun.
Staying hydrated is important all year round, but it can be especially crucial when the weather is warm, as we may be losing more fluids to sweat.
But how much water do you actually need to drink in a day? Is the standard eight glasses per day really the rule of thumb?
Fluid versus Water
One of the first things to clarify is that it’s not just water that counts toward your daily hydration needs. Most of the things you eat or drink in a day contain at least a little bit of water. Other beverages like sparkling water, tea, and milk can also count towards fluid requirements.
There’s good news for coffee lovers – coffee intake does count toward your daily hydration goals. Many of us have heard that coffee is dehydrating, but this is not actually true. Of course, too much caffeine can have other detrimental effects, so it’s best not to get all your fluids in the form of coffee.
Foods can also contribute to overall fluid intake. That classic summer staple, watermelon, can contain up to 91 percent water.* A snack of around 300 grams of watermelon can equal around 250 ml (or 1 cup) of hydrating fluids.
Other summer fruits like blueberries, raspberries, and apricots are very high in water as well. Packing celery sticks or sliced cucumber for a picnic or hike will help you stay hydrated throughout the day.
How much fluid do I need each day?
This still begs the question – how much fluid do we need to take in each day to stay optimally hydrated?
Each person is different, and the amount of water you need each day can vary depending on your age, sex, and activity level. Fluid needs can also change depending on the temperature outside – on hot days we tend to sweat more, so we may need to take in more water to compensate.
If you’re someone who likes to have a number to shoot for, a good rule of thumb is around 2.5 litres each day for women, and around 3 litres each day for men.
What if I don’t like plain water?
While it’s best to get most of your daily fluids from water, if you don’t like drinking plain water it can be hard to get enough fluids each day.
In the same way that a balanced diet is easier to stick to if it includes the occasional treat, you’re more likely to stay hydrated every day if you can make it enjoyable for yourself.
If you’re someone who just doesn’t like the taste of plain water, there are many ways to make things more interesting. A batch of homemade herbal iced tea can be a refreshing treat on a hot day. Or, try infusing your water with cucumber, lime, mint, or your favourite fresh herbs. Sparkling water with a splash of juice also makes a perfect sweet treat and a great alternative to pop.
Key things to remember
Water makes up a large percentage of your body’s composition, so staying hydrated is important in maintaining a variety of bodily functions.
In general, aim to consume 2.5 to 3 litres per day. Of course, these numbers are only estimates, and individual needs can vary quite a bit. Your fluid needs can also change depending on the weather and how active you are on a given day.
While drinking plain water is the best way to stay hydrated, water-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as other beverages, all contribute to your daily intake.
For personalized tips on healthy eating and drinking, you can video chat with a dietitian**.
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