This is kind of a two part question and answer because it should be taken in the context of both water for exercise and water for weight loss. Water can help with both and if you’re not drinking enough it’s easy to get discouraged or not perform at your best.
I have to admit that I’ve never been good at drinking enough water. I would drink it while exercising but the bulk of my daily fluid intake was as either soft drinks (regular for years followed by years of the so-called ‘diet’ drinks) and coffee. I don’t think it would be inaccurate to say that I was chronically dehydrated from the age of 18 to 40.
As a side note, I haven’t had a drink of soda since January 1st!
Why didn’t I drink enough water? Mainly due to the taste. I didn’t like the taste of plain water except when I was exercising. And I wasn’t exercising very much. It wasn’t until last year, and again this month, that I really took a hard look at my water consumption and did something about it.
Why is Water Consumption Good?
A quick search of Google yields millions of results on why you should be drinking enough water each day. I’m not going to bore you by linking all of them here. Besides, that would take like forever. I will give you a few reasons why drinking water is good for you from an exercise and weight loss perspective. They are:
- Water accounts for up to 60% of our body weight and every system depends on water to function properly. Water carries nutrients throughout our body, flushes toxins out of our system and keeps us hydrated.1
- It regulates our core temperature. This is especially critical when exercising in extreme temperatures.
- It may help keep us from overeating. One of the things people are told is that drinking a glass of water before eating may help them eat less when sitting down to feast.2
- It keeps us hydrated. Staying hydrated is important for our body to perform properly as well as being able to exercise at our top potential. One theory regarding weight loss is that being dehydrated can be mistaken for hunger2. Instead of immediately eating when you feel hungry try downing some water first to see if it takes care of the craving.
How Much Water is Enough?
Our daily water intake varies by several factors including age, sex, exercise level and where we live. The USDA has published guidelines based on age and sex.3 For my age group, they are:
- Males, 31-50 years old, 3.7 liters/day
- Females, 31-50 years old, 2.7 liters/day
These intakes are to include water consumption from all sources (i.e. food, beverages and normal tap water).
How Much Water am I Drinking?
Like I said earlier, I was probably dehydrated from the ages of 18-40 because I didn’t drink enough water and instead lived on coffee and soft drinks. That ended last year when I started drinking more water. I did real good up until late last year and lost sight of the need to stay hydrated.
This past week I got serious about my water intake and started drinking between 64 and 80 ounces a day not including any water intake from food, beverages or what I drink while riding.
I Needed Help
One of the big things I changed this month was really tracking how much I was drinking everyday. I knew I needed to drink more water each day but I had a bad habit of getting busy and forgetting about it. Before I knew it the day would be over and the water bottle on my desk was still sitting there empty from the previous day or full from refilling it at some point. I needed help so I turned to my smartphone.
I downloaded a simple (and free) app that let me set how many glasses of water I wanted to drink each day and it reminds me how much I have left to drink that day. As I drink a glass I open the app and tap a water glass to add to my daily consumption. Each hour I get an alert on my phone reminding me how much water I still need to drink that day. The amount of water you want to drink each day, when you want to get alerts, and how often you want to be reminded were all options in the app.
The result? I drank between 64 and 80 ounces each day (including the weekend) last week. I found the app critical in reminding me to drink water.
Are you up for this? I hope so. If you’re having problems drinking enough water each day I want you to make a commitment to do it for the next four days. Starting tomorrow I want you to start measuring how much your drinking and log it. If you can find an app, get it, and use it. I use Windows Phone 7 and if I could find an app for this there’s got to be a ton out there for the iphone and android.
Each day I want you to go to the Biking to Live Facebook page to let me know how you did for the day, what your challenges were and any benefits you saw (i.e. felt better, was less tired, exercised better, lost some weight, etc.). I’ll make a short post announcing the Daily Hydration Challenge and all you need to do is ‘Like’ it to accept the challenge and then keep us all posted on your progress.
1Mayo Clinic: Water: How much should you drink every day?
2LiveStrong: Daily Water Intake for Weight Loss
3USDA Dietary Reference Intakes, Page 5