Staying hydrated is important for almost every bodily function. If you want your body and mind to function their best, proper hydration will help make that happen!
- Regulating your body temperature and promoting a healthy immune system.
- Transporting nutrients within cells and removing waste from the body.
- Healthy digestion and prevention of constipation.
- Preventing dry skin and wrinkles.
- Optimizing energy levels and exercise performance.
- Proper brain function and mood.
- Promoting healthy organ function, including your kidneys, liver, and heart.
- Metabolism and weight regulation.
How much water do I need?
As a rule of thumb, divide your weight (in pounds) in half and try to drink at least that many ounces of water each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, your goal would be to drink at least 75 ounces per day.
Important: It is possible to drink too much water. Healthy kidneys can excrete a maximum of 32 ounces of water per hour, so it's important to spread out your water intake over the course of the day. If you have a medical condition that requires you to restrict your water intake, please talk with your physician regarding how much water is right for you.
Track your water intake! Feel free to track however works best for you. One option is to download the PDF Healthy IU Hydration Tracker.
A note about BPA: Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a compound found in some plastics that may have negative health effects. The amount of BPA that ends up in your foods and beverages is significantly increased when plastics are heated, so avoid drinking from plastic water bottles that have been left in a hot car and avoid cooking foods in plastic containers. You can read more about BPA in this article from Mayo Clinic.
Am I getting enough water?
Your individual hydration needs can vary depending on many factors, including the temperature around you and your physical activity level.
An easy way to assess your hydration status is to look at the color of your urine. Pale yellow means your body is well hydrated. Dark yellow or amber means you’re dehydrated and should drink some water.
Check out this infographic from Cleveland Clinic to learn more about what the color of your urine is telling you.
When should I drink water?
The best way to stay hydrated is to spread your water intake throughout the day. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re keeping on top of it:
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning when you wake up. Your body hasn’t had anything to drink since before you went to bed, so it’s a good idea to hydrate to start your day.
- Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. You’re more likely to drink water when it’s easily available.
- Drink a glass of water before eating meals and snacks. Sometimes your body may mistake thirst for hunger, so this strategy can help prevent overeating too!
- Drink water before, during, and after exercise. The more you sweat, the more water you’ll need to restore your hydration status.
- Avoid drinking too much water close to bedtime, as nighttime bathroom trips could disrupt your sleep.
What are some beverage options beyond plain water?
Plain water is the best option for hydrating your body. Tired of plain ol’ water? Here are some ways to perk up those taste buds:
- Add a hint of flavor with the addition of citrus, berries, cucumber, or mint to water.
- Add some fizz to water by choosing carbonated water or using a SodaStream.
- Add a splash of fruit juice to water for a light and refreshing fruit flavor.
- Brew some coffee, green tea, or black tea. Try herbal teas too for a caffeine-free option.
What beverages should I limit?
Some beverages are more trouble than they’re worth. Here’s a list of beverages to limit:
- Sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda and fruit juice, contribute to the development of tooth decay, diabetes, liver disease, and obesity. Check out the “How Sweet Is It?” resource from Harvard to see just how much sugar these beverages contain.
- Sport drinks provide water, sugar, and electrolytes for fueling bouts of vigorous exercise lasting longer than 60 minutes. For shorter or less intense workouts, plain water is a better choice.
- Alcoholic beverages cause the body to excrete more water, resulting in dehydration. It’s best to limit alcoholic beverages to no more than one serving per day.
Hydrating for physical activity
Your water needs are higher when you’re active and sweating. These tips can help you stay hydrated — and feeling your best — before, during, and after physical activity:
- Before starting physical activity, have at least 8 ounces of water.
- While being active, aim to drink about 7 to 10 ounces of water for every 10 to 20 minutes. The more you’re sweating, the more water you need.
- Most of the weight you lose while being active is water. A good rule of thumb is to drink 16 ounces of water after intense activity to rehydrate.
The quality of your drinking water
Here are some steps you can take to make sure the quality of your drinking water is up to par:
1. Consider the source
If your home has well water, it is important to have your water tested at least annually to ensure that levels of contaminants do not exceed recommended levels.
If your home water supply is from a public source, you’ll receive an annual water quality report with your water bill. You can also use the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database.
2. Consider filtration
There are many filtration options that can filter out contaminants and make your water taste better too. The type of filter you should choose will depend upon what you are trying to remove from your water.
Carbon filters are the most common and least expensive filtration option. They remove chlorine and improve taste and odor. Some carbon filters remove additional contaminants too. The refillable water stations at IU use carbon filters. You can read more about filtration options here.
3. Maintain your filter
If you use a filter, don’t forget to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance/replacement schedule.