Struggling with Starbucks being your only source of hydration? Get some dietitian-approved creative tips on how to drink more water.
Our culture has an obsession with staying busy-busy-busy and efficiency – and while I completely relate, it can still be a problem. A problem that multiplies when hydration is reduced to a chance to pound more stimulating caffeine and sugar via coffee, teas, sodas, and diet sodas, leaving you wondering how to drink more water.
This time of year especially, with summer fast approaching the increasingly brutal heat makes it a lot easier to sweat more and potentially interfere with staying adequately hydrated. I’ve always noticed many of my clients and readers this time of year are often asking for creative tips on how to drink more water – and y’all ask, I deliver! Before we get to the tips, though, let’s dive in a little on some hydration and dehydration basics.
Why Hydration is So Important
Water is essential to all life. In fact, much of our cells are filled with water! As an adult, about 60% of our body weight comes from water (1). The exact percentage can differ with several variables:
- babies and children have higher percentages of water
- women typically have less water than men
- individuals with more fatty tissue tend to have less water than those with less fatty tissue (which is why men often have higher percentages of water than women)
The reason our bodies have such a high water content is that water is absolutely essential in many processes that keep our bodies functioning smoothly.
- maintains homeostasis in the body (2)
- allows transport of nutrients to cells
- allows removal and excretion of waste products of metabolism
- water helps regulate internal body temperature through sweating and respiratio
- water forms saliva, essential for digestion
- water helps lubricate joints
- water can act as a buffer, like a shock absorber, for the brain, spinal cord, and fetus during pregnancy
- the brain needs water to make hormones and neurotransmitters
- is a basic building block of cells, allowing them to grow, reproduce, and survive
- water helps deliver oxygen all over the body
Basically, all this means is that without adequate hydration you may be feeling the effects anywhere from constipation and bloat to dry skin or an inefficient metabolism.
What Contributes to Dehydration
The most basic definition of dehydration is when you’re taking in less hydration than your body needs (3). Dehydration can develop through several different mechanisms, like excessive fluid loss through sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and excessive urination that can be caused by things like certain medical conditions and some medications.
Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include:
- dry mouth
- increased thirst
- decreased urination
- less tear production
- dry skin
Severe dehydration symptoms include the above and the following, and should be considered a medical emergency and treatment from a medical professional sought immediately:
- excessive thirst
- lack of sweat production
- low blood pressure
- rapid heart rate
- rapid breathing
- sunken eyes
- shriveled skin
- dark urine
How Much Water Do I Need?
The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for water vary based on age and sex (2). Healthy adults males typically require 3.7 L (125 ounces) daily and healthy adult females typically require 2.7 L (91 ounces) daily. Important notes:
- The recommended daily intakes include beverages and water content from hydrating foods – not just plain water.
- Moisture in foods can typically account for 20% of fluid intake.
- While there is such a thing as too much water, it’s difficult for most healthy individuals to achieve. This is why there are no upper limits to the DRIs as healthy, normal functioning kidneys can handle more than 0.7 L (24 oz) of fluid per hour.
A general recommendation is to drink to thirst. If you’re feeling thirsty – drink! If you’re noticing dry, chapped lips or skin – drink!
How to Drink More Water
Adequate hydration is clearly important, right? Yet despite something being so simple and so essential to survival, I hear from clients and readers all the time about their struggles to meet their hydration goals. Maybe they’re busy at work or with family, and all of a sudden half the day has gone by without so much as a sip of water. Or maybe it’s just getting bored of the taste of water. I’ve heard it all! Here are my top tips for how to drink more water (and enjoy it!):
Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
Hydrate first thing! Yes, even before coffee. 😉 It’s not uncommon to wake up a little parched in the morning, but if you first turn to coffee and other beverages, it’s really easy to over-consume things like coffee and juice. Starting your day with some water first thing kick-starts your day – and then you can have your coffee. 😉
Pro tip: leave a cup of water or water bottle on your night stand so you can start hydrating right when you wake up!
Bring Water with You
Growing up in hot and humid Florida, we got used to bringing water bottles with us wherever we go and this is a tip I still swear by today. Find a cup or bottle that works for you, like a large insulated cup with a straw or a stainless steel water bottle with a lid that secures tightly so it can easily be tossed in a bag. Bring this with you in the car running errands, use it at work, take it on your commute, or even bring it with you around your house as you’re cleaning or hanging out in different rooms!
Pro tip: use plastic-free reusable water bottles or cups to help the environment!
Track Your Water Intake
While it’s easy to say, “drink to thirst” it’s also really easy to not realize how much or how little water you’ve actually been drinking. There are many ways to track your water intake, but if you struggle with drinking enough water throughout the day, try these tricks that have worked with my past clients:
- Keep a post-it note next to your desk and write down how many ounces you drank each time you polish off another cup or water bottle.
- Log ounces of water in an app or note on your phone.
- Use rubber bands on your water bottle to tally your intake (example: if you want to drink 80 ounces of water during the day and your water bottle holds 20 ounces, place four rubber bands at the top of your water bottle. Every time you drink your water bottle and are ready for a refill, move one of the rubber bands to the bottom of your water bottle).
Smoothies & Blended Beverages
Use hydrating liquids like water or coconut water in your smoothies to add additional hydration. You can also make blended beverages, like agua fresca, that are incredibly hydrating with no added sugar.
If you struggle with feeling like water tastes boring, try infusions! One of my favorite things about infusions is that they can often be enjoyed chilled or hot. Some of my favorite add-ins:
- Fresh or frozen fruit that gently imparts flavor.
- Herbal teas, like hibiscus or peppermint.
- Aromatics like freshly sliced ginger or lemon or lime slices.
Consume Hydrating Fruits and Vegetables
Last but not least, we’ve got to talk about fruits and veggies! Many, if not most, foods have some amount of water in them. By choosing foods, like some fruits and vegetables, that have a high water content it can be a great way to help meet your daily hydration goals. Some of my favorites:
- Lettuce: 96% water content (4)
- Try it: salad skewers
- Cucumbers: 95% water content (5)
- Try it: spiralized cucumber sesame salad
- Celery: 95% water content (6)
- Try it: avocado veggie egg salad
- Zucchini 94% water content (7)
- Tomatoes: 94% water content (8)
- Watermelon: 92% water (9)
- Try it: watermelon mint lemonade
- Bell Peppers: 92% water (10)
- Cauliflower: 92% water content (11)
- Try it: coconut cauliflower rice
- Cabbage: 92% water (12)
- Strawberries: 91% water (13)
- Cantaloupe: 90% water (14)
- Try it: cantaloupe basil agua fresca
- Grapefruit: 88% water (15)
Other foods and beverages, like coconut water, broths, and soups are also incredibly hydrating. And if you don’t have any allergies or intolerances to dairy, dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese have high water contents, too.
If you have any other tips for how to drink more water and stay hydrated, be sure to share them in the comments! You can also share them to social media and tag @nutritiontofit and #nutritiontofit.
Don’t forget to share and pin this post to remember these hydration tips so you and your friends will never be left wondering how to drink more water again. 😉 Live well, and stay hydrated!