1. Eight Glasses a Day?
This is the general guideline that most of us have heard, but nobody is sure where it originated as it is not associated with any scientific evidence. In reality, every body is unique and has different needs. How can the 8-glasses-a-day rule apply to both a 5-foot tall small-framed woman and a 6-foot muscular male? What about the fact that exercise and warm weather make us sweat more than usual, which requires some additional drinking to replenish fluids? Also, consider the types of foods you eat, all of which have diverse variations in water content. Compare eating a meal consisting of salty high-protein fast food to one containing lots of high-water foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Water from foods contributes to your overall hydration, too. It's definitely not as simple as 8 glasses per day.
2. The Caffeine Myth
It used to be a common belief that drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee and tea, dehydrate you and increase your need for fluids. This notion has been debunked with more recent research. According to the American Dietetic Association's Evidence Analysis Library, consuming up to 6 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight does not affect hydration status. This equates to approximately 408 milligrams of caffeine for a 150 pound (68kg) person, or about 4 cups of coffee.
3. Does Water Help with Weight Loss?
In short: It depends. If you replace high-calorie beverages, such as soda or juices, with water, it will decrease your caloric intake, and you can lose weight. There is nothing special that the water is doing to promote weight loss. It is the action of switching from beverages that contain calories to beverages that do not that results in decreased energy intake.
The other way that water may help with weight loss is if you drink it when you feel the urge to eat. Many people mistake thirst for hunger, and so they eat when their bodies really only want water. Try drinking a glass of water the next time you feel hungry, like a time shortly after you've eaten and are wondering how you can possibly be hungry again. Wait about 15 minutes after having a glass of water, and then reassess your hunger.
There is a lot to be said for listening to your body and drinking when you are thirsty. This can take practice because many people are not used to eating and drinking from internal signals. A good indicator of hydration status is urine color, which should be clear to light yellow. Dark urine is a sign that you are probably not drinking sufficient amounts of water.
Lastly, there is such a thing as consuming too much water! It is called hyponatremia, and although it is uncommon, it is very serious. When this occurs, your sodium levels get diluted due to too much water being ingested in too short of a period of time. Drinking small amounts throughout the day is best. Our bodies are designed to let us know when we are hungry and thirsty naturally. All you need to do is be mindful of the cues and follow them.
Corinne Goff is a Registered Dietitian who is absolutely passionate about food, health, and nutrition. Corinne has a BA in Psychology from Salve Regina University and a BS in Nutrition from the University of Rhode Island. As a nutritionist, her objective is to help people reach their health goals by offering a personalized holistic approach to wellness that incorporates natural foods and lifestyle changes. She works together with her clients to develop daily improvements that they feel comfortable with and that are realistic. She believes that the focus on wholesome, nutrient-rich, real food, is the greatest possible way to become healthier, have more energy, decrease chances of chronic disease, and feel your best. For more information, please visit her website at RI Nutrition Housecalls.com.