Hydration Crash Course

Hey there hi there! 

(That’s Midwestern for hi!)

Today’s topic is something that I’m focusing A LOT on recently, and after just a few days I’m already seeing some benefits. That thing is – hydration!

Yes, water. A whole post about water. I’ve learned a lot about what water actually does for our bodies, and why we need it so much! Did you know that about 75% of the world is chronically dehydrated? Of course this is understandable in areas of the world where water is hard to come by, but in most places water is as easy to get as turning on a tap, and yet we’re still dehydrated. 

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a lengthy article about the sciences behind it, and I’m not going to tell you that whatever you may be drinking throughout the day is in fact DEhydrating you. I’m simply going to share some information on why water is important, what I’m doing to drink more water each day, and the changes I’m noticing in my daily routine. 

Here are a few facts – let’s get these out of the way!

  • about 75% of the world is chronically dehydrated
  • Feeling thirsty means you are already dehydrated
  • Fatigue, memory loss, dry mouth/lips
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation 

Does any of that sound consistent in your life? 

Something I’ve learned along my health journey is that I should be drinking a MINIMUM of half my weight in ounces each day. So, since I weigh about 140 pounds – half my weight would be 70 pounds, which means I should be drinking about 70 ounces of water each day to keep my body going. I stuck to that for a long time, and if I drank more water I considered it a bonus!

There are certain drinks like coffee that I didn’t count towards this hydration level as coffee is considered a drink that dehydrates you, but I did count green tea. There are also foods that help to hydrate us (more on this below), but I didn’t count that either. 

And then I started doing some real thinking. I thought hard about what’s going on with my body, and what I want to heal. Over the last couple years my body has been building up an intolerance to gluten and lactose. It really sucks, but in some ways has been great! I still indulge, in moderation, but its not a part of my normal diet any more. 

Anyway! In taking this time to learn about the state of my body now, where I want it to be, and what I need to do to get there, I realized a few things in my routine could improve with the addition of more water. Things like not sleeping through the night as easily, feeling bloated and constipated in the mornings, and not having consistent energy throughout the day. 

So I did a thing. I bought myself a Hydrojug! A Hydrojug is 73 ounces (half a gallon), which is right around the amount of water I had been aiming to drink each day, only now my goal the last few days has been to drink TWO of these each day. I aim to have the first one done by noon or 1, and have the afternoon/evening to get through the second one. One gallon of water is 128 ounces, so I’ve been getting just over a gallon each day. This doesn’t include my pre-workout, post-workout, or chai that I drink each morning (except for rest days). That’s a lot of water! 

I started drinking this much on Friday, and I’m writing this on Tuesday evening – so 5 days now! 

  • For one thing, I pee SO MUCH! I pee at least once per hour. I’ll spare some of the details, but its a lot. 
  • It was only a struggle on Saturday, when I wasn’t very active. All the other days I’ve gotten a workout in, hustled around the office, etc. Burning those calories and breaking a sweat means some of this water I’m drinking is replacing the water I’m sweating out. 
  • While I can tell I’ve had this much water at the end of each day, I don’t feel uncomfortable. That is, I feel like I’m digesting and passing food more regularly. 
  • I have been sleeping better, and have more consistent energy throughout the day. I do still drink my chai on the way to work in the mornings which has some caffeine in it, but I don’t feel that afternoon decline in energy. I know this isn’t simply because of water, but is an observation.
  • I don’t feel the need to snack! Being properly hydrated helps to keep those hunger feelings away, and has been helping me to stick to my nutrition plan.
  • I did have three beers on Sunday, and noticed that I only had a tiny buzz! I wasn’t drunk or even tipsy, and there was no hangover or headache later on. I had given my body what it needed beforehand, I was still drinking water while I had some beers, and I drank water after. Boom!
  • Bonus thing – I’m on my period and NO CRAMPING! I felt a bit achy when my period started, my uterus’s sign that its there and doing its job, but no cramping that affected my day!

I know a lot of people say things like “well I just don’t like water. Its plain and boring and I need something more!” And that’s perfectly ok! There are ways to change up your water with infusing it with things like cucumber and mint or strawberries. There are also drinks like Gatorade that have additional electrolytes to help with hydration, but drinks like that can have a high sugar content that can lead to dehydration. But, I’m not a scientist and haven’t done much research on this aspect so please don’t use me as a source!

Some foods that help with hydration are:

  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
  • Oranges
  • Cucumber 
  • Lettuce

This can be a great alternative for those who don’t like to just drink water all day. I always have cucumbers around! They’re a great snack, and I usually dip them in hummus. Mmmmmm.

Now, there’s the question – Can one drink TOO much water? The answer is yes, but it isn’t likely you’ll get there. Especially if you’re already not drinking enough to be properly hydrated at all.

Here is the one thing I saw everywhere I looked – Yes, we can drink too much water, but in most cases its relative. There’s no way to say “anyone drinking 2 gallons of water a day is drinking too much” If an olympic athlete drinks a gallon of water in a day they’ll feel hydrated and ready to go the next day, but if someone who is inactive drinks a gallon of water in a day it would be too much for them to drink consistently. On my rest days I may focus on drinking one or one and a half of these jugs. 

Then there’s water poisoning or water toxemia. This is brought on when your body holds on to too much water, and dilutes the amount of sodium in your blood, which can cause dangerously low levels of blood sugar as well as expand your red blood cells. This can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headaches, confusion, and fatigue. 

There isn’t a set amount of water that is too much for each person each day. For something like water poisoning, the timeline is narrowed down a bit. For example, our kidneys can only flush about one liter of water each hour. 

So yes, its possible, but highly unlikely, and it is still all about paying attention to our bodies! Is your pee clear? Cool, you’re hydrated. Do you feel thirsty? If so, you need to drink some water. Each person is different, and each day is different! 

I can pretty much guarantee you are currently dehydrated, and should be incorporating more water into your day. This isn’t a “I should probably go to the gym after the way I ate on vacation” situation, its more of a “my body relies on water to function properly and keep me alive and well I NEED to drink more water” situation, and needs to be addressed. 

Side note, I’m a Pisces, and I love all things water. I feel at home in the water. Being properly hydrated is doing wonders for so many aspects of my life, and is just another small thing I’m doing each day to get to where I want to be in life. I am here to answer any questions you may have, and in no way am I saying I think you should jump to drinking this much water a day. I’m saying, you need more water each day, and adding a glass or two throughout your day is going to make a difference!

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