We all know that staying hydrated is important. It’s also a critical part of your weight loss journey! We need to drink plenty of water throughout the day. But for many people, staying hydrated can be difficult- some don’t like water, some have a hard remembering, and some have a hard time kicking bad habits of drinking soft drinks all day long. Let’s discuss some of the health benefits of staying hydrated and provide some of the best tips for staying hydrated as a part of our weight loss programs here at Weigh to Wellness in Birmingham, AL.
Benefits of Staying Hydrated
Staying well-hydrated is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies are about 60% water, and maintaining the right balance of water and sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, keeps our body’s systems working their best. Water plays an important role in regulating body temperature, providing moisture to skin and tissues, carrying nutrients to cells, cushioning joints, flushing out toxins, and preventing constipation. Sounds pretty important, doesn’t it? Well, what if you just can’t stand drinking water? Are sports drinks ok? Does coffee count? Let’s talk through several tips for staying hydrated. We can do this together!
1. Drink more water
How much water do you need to drink to stay hydrated?
Individual fluid needs vary- it’s not just the 8-10 8oz. glasses that used to be recommended. No one set amount is right for everyone. Fluid needs depend on several factors including age, body size, health status, pregnancy or breastfeeding, activity level, environment, and even altitude.
The Institute of Medicine has set general recommendations for healthy adults- 91 fluid ounces for women (11-12 cups per day) and 125 fluid ounces for men (15-16 cups per day). If you’re not sure you can drink that much water every day, don’t panic. These amounts include all fluid- water, juice, milk, soda, coffee, tea, and the water naturally occurring in our foods. Athletes, pregnant and/or breastfeeding moms, and people prone to kidney stones will need to drink even more than that. People with health conditions like congestive heart failure or kidney failure may need to drink less (please consult your doctor about this).
Here are a few ways you can make sure you’re getting enough water each day:
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning every day. This is a healthy habit to get into.
- Keep a pitcher or large bottle of water on your desk at work or on your counter at home and drink from it during the day. Your goal should be to make sure the pitcher or bottle is empty by the end of the day. Thankfully, several water bottle manufacturers have made larger water bottles that actually list times of day along the side to give you goals to reach throughout the day!
- Take your water with you everywhere you can so you can sip on it throughout the day.
2. Drink other beverages if necessary
If you get bored with plain water, try to drink other types of non-caffeinated, low sugar beverages. Here are some healthy hydration tips for those of you struggling to drink enough water throughout the day:
- Add a splash of juice or slices of citrus fruit to water
- Add a splash of juice or citrus to seltzer to get that kick from the fizzy bubbles like you would with a soda.
- Make your own fresh-pressed juices, but do this in moderation
- Add electrolyte packets to your water to help with hydration
What about sports drinks? Many of the most recognizable brands on the market are loaded with way too much sugar, food coloring, and other ingredients you don’t necessarily need. We’re not saying sugar is bad, but these drinks can be replaced with better, more hydration driven sports drinks. Ones that contain carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium for rehydration, refueling, and electrolyte loss.
3. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables
Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is a great way to help you stay hydrated. It is estimated that about 20% of our daily water intake comes from foods, since almost all foods contain some water. Fruits and vegetables understandably top the list with 80-98% water content. Watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, cucumber, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach are some of the best for hydration. Include a good variety of these in your diet each day- plus they’re great for keeping you on track with your weight loss!
4. Know the signs of dehydration
Your body has ways of telling you that you’re dehydrated. These are some of the possible signs of dehydration:
Yellow or dark urine
The goal is to take in enough fluids so that your urine stays pale in color, and you feel the need to go to the bathroom every 2-4 hours.
It seems silly to say, but being thirsty is often the first sign that you need to drink more water. However, our sense of thirst can decline with age, so older people could be dehydrated without feeling thirsty.
Dehydration headaches can range from mild to as severe as a migraine. Once hydrated, the headache subsides for most.
Dehydration can cause fatigue and decreased performance during exercise. Mild dehydration has also been linked to fatigue and sleepiness during normal daily activities.
This one is especially true for athletes. Loss of fluid and sodium through sweat can cause the muscles to contract or spasm. Generally, the sodium in our food is enough, but if you know you are going to have an active day in the heat, drinking a sports drink may be of benefit.
Dehydration causes your skin to lose its turgor or elasticity. When well-hydrated skin is pinched, it should return to its normal shape immediately and if it doesn’t, it is a sign that you are dehydrated.
Proper hydration is an important part of your weight loss program at Weigh to Wellness in Birmingham, AL. Water is a critical component to every part of your body, and our team would love to help you find fun and creative ways to drink more water. Also, if you ever want to change it up with something a little more fun, we offer a wide range of beverages! Contact us today to get started on your weight loss journey!