GROVE PASHLEY/PHOTOGRAPHER'S CHOICE RF/GETTY IMAGESBy Arricca Elin SanSone
Know What You Need
There's no one-size-fits-all rule, but aim for eight glasses -- about 64 ounces -- per day. "Your daily water requirements depend on many factors," says registered dietician Jim White, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios in Virginia Beach. "For example, you'll need more water if you're physically active or if it's hot and humid." You also need more if you're pregnant or breastfeeding -- ask your doctor for guidelines -- but it's generally an additional 10 to 30 ounces of fluids.
Get on a Schedule
If you're finding it hard to drink more water, establish a routine. "As soon as you get up drink one to two glasses of water; another at your mid-morning break; one at lunch, at mid-afternoon and so on," says Jessica Crandall, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Increase the amount you drink each week until you hit your target." If necessary, set a reminder alarm on your smartphone or computer, or download apps such as Waterlogged for iPhones or Drink More Water for Androids to help you keep track of your daily intake.
Flavor Your Water
To make plain water more appealing, drizzle in a little orange or grapefruit juice, or add mint leaves, cherries, berries or slices of orange, lemon, lime or cucumber. Opt for no-calorie seltzer waters that come in every flavor from mango to pomegranate, or try sugar-free or low-calorie drinks such as Propel and Crystal Light. Experiment with temperature, too -- some people drink water more readily if it's ice-cold while others prefer it room temperature.
Count Other Beverages
You don't have to drink only water to get your fluids in for the day, says Crandall. Hot and cold herbal tea, skim milk and vegetable juices (though you need to watch out for excess sodium) also count. Fruit juice is another option, though you'll be adding more calories to your daily diet. (Consider adding water or plain seltzer to your juice to cut calories). Studies indicate the diuretic effect of caffeine is minimal, so hot and iced coffee or black tea count toward your goal, too.
Keep It Handy
Find a portable water bottle you like and tote it everywhere, says Crandall. Fill a glass and set it next to your desk at work or your chair when watching TV. Drink a cup every time you pass the water cooler at work. Once a week, stock your desk, car, and gym bag with bottled water so you can grab one wherever you are.
Choose Water-Rich Foods
Most foods contain some water and as a result, we get about 20 percent of our day's water needs from foods. Even though there's no a good way to measure how much liquid you're getting from food, you can boost overall fluid intake by eating more fruits and veggies, which naturally have a high water content. Try melon, berries, oranges, tomatoes and celery, as well as foods that contain water such as soup, oatmeal, and yogurt.
Drink Up if You're Hungry or Tired
Sometimes you think you're hungry when you're actually thirsty. "We're not always tuned in to our hunger and thirst cues," says White. "Instead of grabbing a snack, drink one to two glasses of water and re-evaluate how you feel." You may also benefit from a beverage if you're tired, as fatigue can be a sign of mild dehydration.
Stay Hydrated When You Exercise
In one hour of exercise, you can lose more than a quart of water depending on the temperature and exercise intensity. To stay hydrated during workouts, drink about 16 ounces of water an hour beforehand, 16 ounces within an hour after exercising, and about 4 to 8 ounces for every 15 minutes of exercise, advises White. Sports drinks aren't necessary for most recreational exercisers -- they pack a lot of calories -- but they may be helpful if you're working out at high intensity for more than 45 minutes or if you're working outdoors in the garden on a hot, humid day.
Check Your Progress
The simplest way to tell if you're staying adequately hydrated is to look at the color of your urine. "It should be relatively clear or pale yellow," says Crandall. If it's darker or you're not going to the bathroom every few hours, you're not getting enough water. In addition, if you experience common signs of dehydration such as a dry, sticky mouth, low urine output, nausea, dizziness or weakness, drink small amounts of water or electrolyte solutions, such as Gatorade, and call your doctor.
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