Do You Really Need to Drink Four Litres of Water a Day?

Do You Really Need to Drink Four Litres of Water a Day?
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I’m starting to side with the Lifehacker commenters on this one: Drinking an arbitrary amount of water each day (four litres in this case) feels like scientific mumbo-jumbo, a benchmark that looks good on paper but one whose necessity varies wildly with each person — and, of course, with your diet, since you get water from the food you eat, too.

Does a person really need to drink that much water each day? Probably not. Does it make you more healthy to drink more water than average? To a point, sure. But I’m starting to feel like the biggest benefit from consuming so much water per day is that you’re going to be moving a lot more, what with all the times you’ll be getting up to pee.

As for actual health benefits, well, I’m no scientist, but I have been drinking as close to four litres of water each day as I can all month (it’s hard!), and I don’t feel all that different. My perpetually dry skin doesn’t feel slippery and hydrated; I haven’t lost any weight to speak of (but who knows, maybe when I stop bloating up with all this water, that’ll change); and I’m still not much of a morning person. Only now, I wake up and drink water while I stare into the void that is my desktop monitor. I guess the act of drinking water does help wake me up a bit more than doing nothing, so there’s that. Hopping into the shower immediately upon waking up would have similar effect, I wager. Or sipping a delicious cold brew.

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I’m struggling to think of any other benefits I’ve realised as a result of Lifehacker’s watery Fitness Challenge. I pee a lot more, and going to the bathroom more continually reminds me, “ah, I should schedule some time to clean the bathroom,” and that’s never a bad thing. I’m also cleaning my water jug a lot more — every day, really. That’s good, too! And it’s generally a good thing to drink pure, refreshing water rather than harmful, bubbly soda. I haven’t touched the latter since the beginning of March, and I’m sure I’m getting some kind of health benefit from not drinking useless carbs and sugar every day. Still waiting for the bathroom scale to witness me, though.

Still, this water challenge reminds me of the simple premise that a quick fix does not a healthy lifestyle make. You can’t force your way to a better bod simply by making one drastic change in your life — drinking an absurd amount of water each day, for example. Gradual change across multiple areas will deliver a better payoff than one extreme change in a targeted area, unless you’ve going for an obvious healthy change like, “no more fast food.”

More to the point, I think I’d probably see more tangible health benefits if I combined a newfound appreciation of water — not an extreme dedication to four litres a day, but simply incorporating more water into my life — with other pursuits. Maybe a nice walk during lunch a few times a week, or some dedicated time on the spin bike. Or even something as small as “going to bed at a reasonable time each night,” or “taking more breaks from the stupid computer, my lifeline to the world during the pandemic.”

That’s the biggest benefit I’ve gained so far from this three-week water challenge. It hasn’t improved my skin, alas, but it has made me think more about living a healthier lifestyle. And, as a result, I’ve started to make other small changes that will hopefully result in gradual improvements. Drinking all this water each day has been a good reminder of health, if not necessarily an action that will supercharge my health all by itself.

That all said, my bladder is probably Olympic-level at this point. If anything is getting a workout this month, it’s that.

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