Ask LH: How Much Water Should You Be Drinking a Day?

Ask LH: How Much Water Should You Be Drinking a Day?
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We all know water is the best thing for our bodies, but if you’re anything like me, you probably reach the end of the day with a headache and think, “Wow, I did not drink enough water today”.

What makes my constant failure to drink adequate amounts of water even more confusing is that I almost always have a water bottle with me. I know I need to drink more than what I currently do, but how much water are you meant to have a day?

I know there are rough recommendations out there about how much water we should be consuming per day, but what’s the science-based truth?

During this week’s Ask LH, we are going to find out how much water we’re supposed to be drinking a day and look at some ways to help ourselves drink more.

How much water should you be drinking per day?

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You might hear people say ‘Just drink plenty of water and you’ll be right,” but that kind of statement helps absolutely no one. How much is plenty? How do I know if I’ve reached that plentiful state? Will I be right? So many questions.

According to the Australian nutrient guidelines, adult men need around 2.6L/day (roughly around 10 cups) and adult women need 2.1L/day (roughly 8 cups) of water per day.

This amount, however, is just a general guideline as things like weight, sex, pregnancy status, your overall health, metabolism and even where you live can affect how much water you should be having a day.

CSIRO dietitian Pennie Taylor told ABC that a good rule of thumb is to have around 35 ml of water per kilogram of your body weight, which is a great way to figure out your water intake if you love maths problems.

How to tell if you’re dehydrated

A great way to tell if you’ve had enough water is by checking the colour of your urine.

If it’s pale yellow or straw coloured, chances are you’re pretty well hydrated. If it’s on the darker side, you should probably have some more water.

Here’s a handy chart from Heath Direct to check if you’ve had enough water.

how much water should you drink?
Image Health Direct

Basically, if you pee clear, cheer!

Just keep in mind that taking some medicines or vitamin supplements can change the colour of your urine for a few hours. Once I ate too much beetroot and I thought something was severely wrong when my urine was pink.

In case you’re wondering, some signs of dehydration are:

  • Dark urine
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fainting

How can you make yourself drink more water?

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Here’s a fun fact for you; our bodies get around one-fifth of our water intake from food and the rest from drinking fluids so it’s super important to stay on top of your water habits. But how do you convince yourself to drink more water if you’re a slacker like me?

Turns out there are actually a few solid ways you can make yourself drink more water.

Firstly, and perhaps the most obvious way, is to drink right as you start feeling thirsty.

A trick that I found that has worked for me was getting a smaller 750 ml reusable bottle which forced me to keep refilling it during the day because I would finish it faster.

You could also try the reverse of this and get a large 1L or 2L bottle, which means you can trick your mind into only having to drink one or two bottles of water a day.

Here are some other ways you can get on top of your water consumption:

  • Always carry a water bottle with you
  • Keep chilled water in the fridge (especially great on hot days)
  • Add some flavour to your water with lemon, strawberries or mint or even sugar-free cordial
  • Have water on the table when you’re eating and have a glass before each meal
  • Set yourself a daily water intake goal with hourly increments
  • Set reminders to drink more water
  • Eat foods that are high in water like cucumber, watermelon and lettuce
  • Have a glass of water before bed and another one when you wake up

Because we live in an age of technology, you can now also buy smart water bottles that can tell you when you need to have water, so that’s fun.

Can you ever drink too much water?

For some people, their bodies won’t tell them when they’ve had enough water, or they overestimate how much water they should be having which can lead to a dangerous condition called hyponatremia.

This is where the levels of sodium in the blood become too diluted from all the water in their bodies. It can prove to be quite dangerous so make sure you’re well-hydrated enough without going overboard with it.

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