There’s alot of advice floating around about hydration, like “You need 8 glasses of water a day,” “If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated,” etc.
If you’re shooting for the 8 glasses, or 64 ounces, of water and other non-caffeinated/non-alcohol beverages daily, you are likely getting enough fluids to be well hydrated. Notice that I said non-caffeinated/non-alcohol beverages–drinks containing caffeine and alcohol will work against you when trying to achieve good hydration.
It should also be mentioned that drinking eight glasses of these fluids daily is great when you’re just doing your normal daily activities, but when you add in exercise and physical work you’ll want to up your fluid intake. You’ll want to drink at least an extra 1-2 cups of water, or 16 ounces for every pound lost during the workout.
So let’s talk about your drink options. Water is going to be your best bet for staying well hydrated without adding extra calories. The next best choices would be low-fat milk, 100% fruit juice, and decaf coffee or tea. On average, you’ll want to have 16 ounces (2 cups) of milk each day, and limit juice intake to no more than 8-12 ounces daily. These beverages pack lots of healthy nutrients, but also pack a considerable amount of calories and can be easy to over-do.
Sports drinks, like Gatorade or Powerade, should be reserved for just that: SPORTS! These are formulated for replenishing nutrients after a grueling workout, like working out hard for at least an hour. When you drink these just for fun (without the tough workout), they can add alot of extra calories! Gatorade, for example, is about 125 calories for every 20 oz. bottle. If you had one every day, that would be an extra 13 pounds worth of calories per year! Even when you choose the artificially sweetened version, sports drinks have concentrated amounts of electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, which helps your body quickly take back the nutrients it lost during the workout. You’ve probably noticed that high-sodium foods make your body hold on to more water, and high-sodium beverages can do the same thing!
So something to focus on this week: drink at least 8 glasses of fluids daily, limit caffeine and alcohol, and only use sports drinks when you have a long, hard workout. Share how you’re doing in the comments!
Thanks for reading,