High Performance 101: How to Stay Hydrated
How many reusable water bottles do you have lying around your house? Probably a bunch. That’s because we’ve been hearing for years now how important it is to get plenty of water. And something is sinking in; 2017’s soda sales declined for the 12th year in a row.
So as a society we are taking great steps toward proper hydration.
But what about the individual level? Do you actually know how to stay hydrated each day? Are you drinking the generic recommendations or are you listening to your body’s needs? Are you actually drinking more water or is your day full of coffee, sugary drinks, and wine?
Knowing how to stay hydrated really is worth paying attention to… because your body depends on it.
That’s why we’ll go over everything on how to stay hydrated every single day – no matter what you’re doing. This includes:
- Why it really matters
- How preventing dehydration (even mild dehydration you may be experiencing every single day) is actually super easy
- What drinks dehydrate you and which hydrate you
- What to do if you end up dehydrated
- And tips for drinking more water throughout the day
So take a sip of H2O, and let’s get to it.
Why Is Water Important?
Each and every one of us has been told water is important, but to make real, lasting changes in your hydration habits, it is important to answer this question: WHY is water important?
Your body uses water for just about everything. From your large organs all the way down to your itty-bitty cells. Your body is actually mostly water. Even that smart brain of yours… about 85% water. So without water, it all starts malfunctioning.
If you didn’t put gas in your car, it wouldn’t drive. If you don’t put water in your body, it’s not going to work the way it should either. Water does all the biggies:
- Helps with digestion and the absorption of nutrients
- Aids in blood and oxygen circulation
- Gets rids of toxins
- Keeps your body at the proper temperature
- Pumps your metabolism
And it also plays a role in the smaller aspects of your life. In fact, it’s said that when your body’s water content drops by only 2%, you can start having fuzzy memory and trouble focusing.
If you’re tired in the afternoons… If your skin lost its glow… If you’re wondering why you’re all of a sudden experiencing ADD symptoms… If you’re having the afternoon moodies… you may just need more water.
So knowing how to stay hydrated all day everyday really is that important.
How To Prevent Dehydration
Prevention is key when it comes to dehydration. You’ll find my rehydration tips below, but by that point your body is already suffering from all of these symptoms.
Symptoms of not drinking enough water include:
- Dry mouth/thirst
- Decreased urine
- Dry, flakey skin
And if the dehydration continues, symptoms can become severe:
- Little to no urine output
- Extreme dizziness (you probably wouldn’t be able to walk well)
- Low blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Sunken eyes
So let’s make sure you don’t even get there. Here are my top 3 suggestions for how to stay hydrated 100% of the time.
1 – Drink Water
I hate to be so obvious, but it’s worth noting. Some people think that you can achieve proper hydration by drinking juice, tea and other “water based” but non-hydrating beverages. In fact, I’m sure you’ve heard you’re supposed to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. That’s a good starting point, but it may not be enough. I always recommend drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day. Add a pinch of pink sea salt to increase hydration and flush water into the cells.
If you wonder if you’re getting enough water the good ol’ “look in the toilet” test may seem less than appealing, but it is a fabulous indicator of your hydration levels.
Aim for clear or very pale yellow urine. If it is yellow, dark yellow, or orange – you really need to drink up! You’re already dehydrated at that point. And bowel movements that are dry and look like “pebbles” could be a sign of dehydration as well.
2 – Eat Hydrating Foods
Knowing how to stay hydrated isn’t just about drinking. There are actually lots of produce options that will hydrate you as you eat them. But keep in mind that this is not a substitute for water. This is only to boost what you’re already drinking each day. Some of the fruits and veggies with the highest water content are:
- Watermelon (aptly named, right?) and other melons
- Iceberg lettuce
- Bell peppers
As long as you are eating multiple servings of produce with each meal, you shouldn’t have to worry about keeping to this list too closely. You’ll just have a constant flow of food hydration throughout the day.
3 – Hydrate Pre- and Post-Workout
One of the most common times for the average person to get dehydrated is during an exercise or sport. Don’t let one of the healthiest activities for you compromise your health by forgetting to drink enough water.
When you’re hot, sweaty, and working hard, you’ll probably remember to sip your water. But that’s not enough. Here’s how to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration during times of high activity:
- You need to start drinking extra water a couple hours before high activity
- You need to drink extra water a couple hours after high activity (also add some electrolytes which I’ll discus below)
What Drinks Dehydrate You?
If you want to know how to stay hydrated, one of the best things you can do is avoid drinks that are dehydrating. This means it’s important to know what drinks dehydrate you. Some dehydrating liquids are obvious – like alcohol. Anybody who has had too much knows his or her body is beat from dehydration the next morning. But some other drinks are not as obvious.
Let’s start by answering some of the most common dehydrating drink questions:
Does carbonated water hydrate you?
Why yes it does! It is only water and bubbles. Just make sure you aren’t drinking tonic, which still often has just as much sugar as a can of coke.
Is Tea Hydrating?
Depends. Herbal teas are always a good way to go (though avoid any that say “detox” if your goal is hydration).
But does iced tea dehydrate you? Not really. Conventionally, people have believed that the higher the caffeine (like the black tea in iced tea), the less the hydration – but science is starting to debunk that. Caffeine is indeed a diuretic, but not so much at the level of a glass of iced tea.
So you may be okay with a warm mug of green tea or a cool glass of iced black tea, but you’ll definitely be fine with a chamomile or hibiscus.
Does Milk Hydrate?
Totally! In fact – some studies have shown that milk may even have a higher “hydration index” than water does. But when it comes to milk, we recommend going for a nut-based milk , like almond or coconut milk. If that’s not an option at least choose organic or raw cow’s milk.
When are sports drinks appropriate for hydration?
We often hear: “Drink a Gatorade” after we’ve just had a sweaty workout/sports game or even after a fever or stomach bug. That’s because you need electrolytes, a combo of different minerals like potassium, sodium, and chloride.
These essential electrolytes will increase or decrease based on our water consumption. So when we sweat, we lose them. When we are dehydrated, we’ve lost them.
Sports drinks like Gatorade replenish electrolytes, yes, but they come at a cost: an added coloring, high sugar or high artificial sugar, chemical cost.
So this is how to stay hydrated and electrolyte happy: drink coconut water.
Coconut water is a natural option filled with those electrolytes – just make sure you choose a brand that has no added sugar (I choose organic, non-GMO brands too).
How To Rehydrate
Even though preventing dehydration is the key, knowing how to rehydrate properly is important too.
Drink Water Correctly
You may think that how to rehydrate quickly is all about chugging gallons of water. But that’s not the case at all.
Drinking too much too fast – especially when you’re dehydrated – will make your stomach upset (which could lead to vomiting, something you completely want to avoid) or too much urination (also something you want to avoid).
When you’re dehydrated, start sipping immediately. And keep sipping consistently. But don’t chug.
Focus on Electrolytes
Remember: when you are dehydrated, your body is missing more than just water. It is also low in important minerals. That’s why you need an electrolyte drink. Alternate sipping on coconut water and regular water.
You can also make a homemade electrolyte drink with ingredients like salt, baking soda, lemon juice, and a small amount of honey. Kitchen Stewardship has an easy recipe.
How To Drink More Water
Drinking water should be one of the easiest, simplest things we could do as human beings; after all, finding water is a basic survival instinct.
Yet most of us do get anywhere near the right amount of water to stay hydrated properly.
If what you’re doing now isn’t working… the key to how to drink more water is sometimes getting creative.
Add Fruit or Essential Oils
Sometimes the biggest problem is getting sick of tasting plain water all the time. If you had a creamy, sugary coffee concoction next to you at work – you probably wouldn’t forget to sip on it. If you had a crisp cocktail next to you – you probably wouldn’t forget to sip it either.
Water can get boring. Bland. And we forget about bland things. So make it un-bland.
Chop up your favorite fruits and put them in your water bottle. (They even make water bottles just for this). Or put a couple drops of citrus essential oils. Or do both.
I love putting a sweeter fruit – say strawberry slices – in with a tart essential oil – like grapefruit. And adding in lemon to your water is the best way to drink water in the morning for a gentle detox after a night of sleep.
Big disclaimer: for this to work, you need essential oils labeled safe for digestion.
Try An App: Waterlogged
This is how to drink more water all thanks to technology. My absolute favorite app for hydration is Waterlogged.
Not only can I easily log what I’ve had to drink all day (it even lets you log simply by taking a picture of your glass), but I can also receive reminders to pick up my water bottle throughout the day.
Sometimes knowing how to stay hydrated is all about just getting reminders so you don’t forget.
Make A New Habit
If you start a habit of checking your water glass at a certain time, it will be in the forefront of your mind. Here are some workday examples depending upon your line of work:
- Each time you get up to go to the bathroom, fill up your water bottle too
- Each time you finish a new project, fill up your water bottle
- Each time you get back into the car, take a few sips
- Each time your students change classes, take a few sips
You need a routine that feels like clockwork. So much so that if you don’t have your water with you, you feel like something is wrong.
What Is The Best Water To Drink?
We often get wrapped up on how to stay hydrated by drinking more water, and we forget to consider the type of water we drink.
But water types can be the difference between arsenic and aluminum contamination vs. properly digested food and glowing skin.
Your first thought is probably – don’t worry, I buy water bottles.
But popular water bottle brands – like Dasani or Aquafina – are typically just plain old tap water. And you aren’t in control of the filtering process. So not only are you unsure of what’s in there/how it’s been filtered, but you also are getting scammed. Just turn on your faucet, and it’s the same stuff.
So what is the best water to drink? Here are two solid options:
One of the ideal ways to drink water is straight from a spring. You can either find a spring in your state and fill up glass jugs, or you could find a market/local brand that does it for you. This is probably the best water type overall, but it is not always convenient or super affordable.
If you really want to buy a water bottle at the store (though drinking out of plastic is less than ideal), there are a few brands that offer spring water:
- Crystal Geyser
- Mountain Valley
Tap Water with a Filter
The tap water in America is carefully monitored – not perfectly monitored – but better than many other countries.
If you use an in-home filtration system, you will be removing most of the contaminants you could be worried about… and it’s so much cheaper than buying case after case of bottles.
It’s how to stay hydrated conveniently, easily, cheaply, and safely.
Supplements/Things To take
If you think you are about to do something dehydrating (like a marathon in the heat) or perhaps you have had vomiting/diarrhea and you are worried about how to stay hydrated – you could consider a hydration supplement.
There are hydration pills, hydration tablets, and hydration salts. All of these are essentially power punches of electrolytes that help prevent dehydration.
These can also be used for anybody who is in the mist of extreme dehydration and needs some immediate life-saving help.
How To Stay Hydrated All Day, Everyday
I know you get the picture now. Knowing how to stay hydrated is the key to your optimal health. So you need to take steps in order to make that a reality.
Do you have any tricks that help you remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day? Or maybe you have a killer fruit water recipe that makes drinking your daily water feel like a tasty treat. Please share your thoughts and tips on how to stay hydrated in the comments below!