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Most people know they need to drink more water. But they don't really grasp how important daily water intake can truly be.
Water helps all of your bodily functions. It improves your health, fitness, weight control, mood, and even your energy levels.
You can rest assured that if they ever do find the “Fountain of Youth”, it will be a water fountain.
So how do you turn a desire to drink more water into a habit that you complete every single day?
This article will break this habit down into an easy-to-follow blueprint for the importance and execution of your daily water intake.
Let's get to it…
What You Will Learn
- A Lesson From the Air Force…
- 15 Benefits of Proper Hydration:
- 1. Improve Bodily Functions
- 2. Weight Loss/Control
- 3. Energizes Muscles
- 4. Help Kidney Function
- 5. Create a Youthful Appearance
- 6. Regular Bowel Movements
- 7. Removal of Toxins
- 8. Reduce Cancer Risks
- 9. Increase Energy
- 10. Reduce Headaches
- 11. Ramp Up Brain Power
- 12. Save Money
- 13. Prevent Cramping
- 14. Strengthen the Immune System
- 15. Fluorination in Water
- How Much Water Do You Need?
- 3 Tips for Developing a Daily Water Intake Habit
- Final Thoughts…
A Lesson From the Air Force…
When I first joined the Air Force, there was a doctor that my buddies and I all joked about. No matter what ailment you would bring to this guy, at least part of his cure was “Drink more water.”
If you had the flu… “Drink more water.”
A fever…. “Drink more water.”
Banged up your knee…. “Drink more water.”
Arm ripped off by a rabid gator… “Drink more water.”
At the time I thought this was really funny. Ten years later, I realize the doctor had a great point. Most people don't drink enough water, and the positive effects of proper hydration can be startling to most people.
So here are benefits of water:
15 Benefits of Proper Hydration:
1. Improve Bodily Functions
Drinking sufficient water helps your body get the right balance of nutrients.
Your body is 60% water. Being hydrated can make a huge number of your body processes go smoothly. Water in your body transports nutrients, maintains your body temperature, assists in digestion and absorption, and is a key to good circulation.
Your body needs water for the simple fact that YOU are mostly water.
2. Weight Loss/Control
Every serious weight loss plan tells you to drink more water.
Look at any diet plan and you'll see they recommend a high intake of water: Adkins, Paleo, Southbeach, Weight Watchers, Medifast, EatingWell, Volumetrics, Sonoma, Spectrum, Nutrisystem, Jillian Michaels, and the Dukan Diet.
They all say you should drink more water. The reason? Because more water helps with the process of losing weight.
Water helps the body efficiently process the food you eat.
It helps to give you a “full” feeling, helping you to consume less. It can also contribute to a feeling of having “increased energy” so you can get the most from your exercise program.
3. Energizes Muscles
When muscle cells don't have enough fluids, they won't work as well. This is due to muscle fatigue because you're decreasing the balance of electrolytes and fluids.
It is essential to consume water during exercise to replenish the fluids you're losing. In fact as a “rule of thumb” the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 17 ounces (in addition to your normal water intake) before and during any strenuous sporting activity.
With exercise, it's important to develop an “early and often” attitude. Consume water before it's needed and you'll avoid the negative effects of dehydration that occurs through sweating.
4. Help Kidney Function
According to this New York Times wellness article, a moderate increase in water consumption can clear sodium, urea, and toxins from the body, decreasing the likelihood of kidney-related problems and even kidney stones.
5. Create a Youthful Appearance
The University of Wisconsin touts drinking water as a way to keep great-looking and youthful skin. However, they also recommend using water in an external moisturizer in addition to consuming the proper amounts.
6. Regular Bowel Movements
For proper bowel movements, your body needs two things: fiber and water. If your body is short on fiber, your body will pull water from stool, giving you constipation. Even if you're lack fiber, your body can relieve constipation if has sufficient water.
7. Removal of Toxins
Clean and pure water does a great job of flushing out toxins from the body through sweat, bowel movements, and urine.
8. Reduce Cancer Risks
Drinking water is not a “cure” for cancer, but it can be a small part of preventing it.
9. Increase Energy
A body begins to show thirst at around 1-2% dehydration. According to studies, even before you begin to feel thirsty, the effects of mild dehydration can decrease energy, mood, and thinking. The more dehydrated a body gets, the lower the energy levels will ebb.
10. Reduce Headaches
Not all headaches are caused by dehydration, but mild or severe dehydration CAN cause headaches. Frequent headaches may be caused by other symptoms, but they could be caused by chronic dehydration.
11. Ramp Up Brain Power
In a London study, researchers found that students who were drinking water during exams actually scored higher on average in tests. While it is hard to say if this is physiological or psychological, it has been proven to work, so if you want to turn that B+ to an A, why not take a bottle of water with you to the exam.
12. Save Money
What do soda, coffee, juice, and energy drinks all have in common? They all cost money.
While you CAN buy premium water that can cost money, it is usually less than other drinks and freely available in many places. Simply saving $2 a day by having water with your meals rather than caloric drinks will fatten your wallet while shrinking your waistline.
13. Prevent Cramping
In sports, cramps are caused by three things. 1. Depletion of potassium 2. Improper stretching 3. Lack of water. Increase your water intake and you'll avoid one of the major causes of cramping.
14. Strengthen the Immune System
Water is key to health. Dehydration compromises the body’s immune system. There are quite a few immune system benefits from proper hydration.
15. Fluorination in Water
Fluoridation is another great reason to drink water. According to the American Dental Association, fluoridated water decreases the chances of tooth decay by 20-40%. (That is, in addition, using other sources, such as fluoridated toothpaste)
How Much Water Do You Need?
I'm sure you've heard the advice about drinking eight * (8-ounce) glasses of water a day. (64 total ounces)
This measurement is very imprecise but can be a decent guide or rule-of-thumb.
But in a nutshell: 64 ounces is a decent baseline, but water consumption should be increased in areas with more heat/humidity, if you are more active, or if you are sick.
Where do I get the water I need?
Most of our water needs come from drinking water and juices. Coffee and soda DO give you some of the water you need, but they also have a mild diuretic effect in addition to the calories they pack on.
20% of water needs come from our foods, but this can be increased if you consume more “watery” foods such as oranges, celery, broths, and soups.
It is possible to drink “too much water.” This is called water intoxication and happens when the body’s sodium and electrolyte levels get extremely low. Most frequently this happens to people participating in extreme endurance sports.
If you drink when you are thirsty, there should be no reason to fear drinking water.
What about energy drinks, Naked Juice and other forms of “healthy” liquids?
These drinks DO count toward your daily water requirements, but they're often full of empty calories. The “energy” in these drinks is often sugar and caffeine, so while they have some water benefits, they add junk calories to your diet.
3 Tips for Developing a Daily Water Intake Habit
It can get boring to drink eight glasses of water every day. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can easily add this habit without turning it into daily grind…
Tip #1: Track your water intake
I am a firm believer in tracking. If you don't track a habit, it's easy to backslide or forget about it. This is the difference between making a lasting change or letting things slide when you get busy.
There are quite a few ways to track your water intake. There are mobile device apps that you can use to track daily tasks. You can make an Excel spreadsheet and keep it updated. Or you can use an “old school” technique like the water card.
How to make a water card:
Create a word processing document (or Excel) to make a 9X5 card with grids, including the days of the week and a block for each 8-ounce glass of water (or equivalent).
Then keep this document on you at all times by putting it in your wallet or purse.
From there, you'll mark off a box whenever you drink eight ounces of water.
Tip #2: Make Water More Convenient
You are more likely to succeed if you turn the water habit into an easy process. Here are nine ways you can make water a convenient resource in your life:
Carry a water bottle everywhere.
Have a bottle of water everywhere you go and you'll increase the likelihood of sticking to this habit change.
I have a big sign on my refrigerator. DRINK MORE WATER. Every time I make lunch, breakfast or dinner, I see this reminder and remember to have a tall glass of water.
Reminders in any shape and form can help you to get in your daily water.
Do whatever it takes to remember this new routine.
Make it taste good.
Make calorie-free flavored water in advance to have on hand when you are thirsty and want something more than plain water. Add a bit of lemon/lime juice. Or try Crystal Light which has a variety of different flavors.
Swap water with your liquid guilty pleasures.
I drink a couple of cups of tea every day, and I sometimes have a beer or two with dinner. But, I also have the habit of being a “two-fisted” drinker–one tea and a glass of water OR one beer and glass water.
This routine serves two purposes. First, it fills me up faster and makes me drink less of the “bad” stuff. Second, it helps me maintain my daily hydration.
Drink water when dining out.
Alcoholic beverages are super expensive when you dine out. It can more than the cost of a meal for a few beers. Even soda, lemonade, and iced tea can add a nice chunk of change to your bill.
But water is almost always free when you dine out.
So why not skip ordering drinks when you dine out and get nice (free) water instead.
Make a rule.
I like rules, they give you the framework to change your habits.
This one is simple and easy to follow.
I like a good jolt of caffeine in the morning, but I make myself drink three glasses of water before indulging in caffeine. That means I start each day by consuming 1/3 of my hydration needs.
Carry a nice jug of water with you to work.
Since you should be getting up to stretch your legs and walk throughout the day anyway, why not take a walk to the water fountain and fill it up.
Drink water at all mealtimes.
Drinking water, before, during and after a meal helps you feel fuller and consume less. This is also a great way to get the 64+ ounces you need every day. (Here are 6 of the best water filter pitchers you can use at home.)
Drink some water.
Your body can be a bit sneaky. Sometimes when you need water it can feel like you are hungry.
Some people grab that Mars Bar and slam down unneeded calories. It's far better to drink a bit of water the next time you feel hungry.
Then, if the hunger persists…eat (and drink water while eating).
Tip #3: Make Daily Water Intake More Interesting
Convenience and tracking are great ways to get in your daily requirements of water, but you also want to make it more palatable. Do it this way and look forward to getting your daily fill of high-quality H2O.
You can add a variety of ingredients to make water taste better:
Personally, I can't stand the taste of “sugar-free” drinks, but some people find that adding them to water makes it taste a whole lot better.
For those wondering: Yes, crystal light does count as water intake, but sugar substitutes bring their own issues, so use sparingly.
8-16 ounces a day of water intake with sugar substitutes are fine, but you will still want to drink the bulk of your water plain or only naturally flavored.
You can try this:
Fill (8) * eight-ounce water-bottles every night and plop them in the freezer. You can add flavor, or fruit if you want. Take them out in the morning and drink them throughout the day for ice-cold water. Try to finish them all.
Having everything prepared beforehand is a simple way to track your water intake. By pre-planning your water intake, all you'll have to remember is to create the water each night and drink every bottle you fill. That's it!
Tip #4: Carbonate your water
Another great option is to try carbonated water. According to the Mayo Clinic, carbonated water is every bit as healthy as tap water, with no adverse effects on the body. Sometimes that bubbly and effervescent water can hit the spot.
In fact, in a 2014 study on water consumption found that people who sometimes drank plain carbonated water drank 43% more water throughout the day. Pretty amazing numbers!
Add this to the idea of flavoring your carbonated water and you could have a big hit that hill help keeps you hydrated. (Keep the flavoring non-sugar, non-aspartame and all-natural, of course!)
There are lots of good options for these carbonation machines. The one pictured here is a very good one. It carbonates 1 liter at a time, using canisters good for carbonating 60 liters of water. It comes with a one-liter BPA-free reusable carbonating bottle and a mini CO2 carbonator. There are fancier and bigger carbonators out there, but for the price, this water carbonator is the best rated
In fact, there are 60 different flavorings available for this home seltzer water maker.
There are all-natural flavorings and non-aspartame and non-high fructose corn syrup options. and even flavoring where you can make your own soda or diet soda.
Being an advocate of pure water… I would highly recommend sticking to natural flavorings only, however.
That is about it for this guide on drinking 64+ ounces of water every day.
On DevelopGoodHabits.com, we talk a lot about different healthy habits you can develop.
In my opinion, increasing your water intake is one of the simplest, but most effective routines you can add to your life.
Simply follow the strategies I've outline in this post and you'll form a habit that will make you healthier, happier and more likely to form other positive, life-changing habits.
When you've mastered this habit, I encourage you to try some simple workout routines or increasing your daily step count. Both are simple routines that can produce a dynamic change to your weight and overall fitness level.
Finally, if you want the perfect morning routine, then check out this seven-step process for creating a morning routine that will become a vital part of your daily life.)
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Finally, if you want to focus on a great HEALTH habit that increases your energy and helps with your weight goals, then take 30-seconds each morning to prepare this drink to feel energized throughout the day.