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How much water should I drink each day?

It is important to keep your body’s water content topped up, otherwise dehydration can develop. Water is absorbed into the body via the small intestine mainly through the liquids you drink but also from the foods you eat. Around eighty percent of total daily water is obtained from your drinks such as water, soft drinks, caffeinated drinks and even alcohol with the remaining twenty percent of water coming from food like soups, vegetables and fruits. There are a number of symptoms that might suggest you are dehydrated such as headaches, dry lips, feeling tired or weak and mood swings. Probably the best indicators however is the color of your urine - it should be pale yellow.


By the time you feel thirsty your body is already dehydrated. Your thirst mechanism lags behind your actual level of hydration and research shows that as little as one percent dehydration will negatively affects your mood, attention, memory and motor coordination. Thicker blood from dehydration makes it harder for your cardiovascular system resulting in an increased heart rate to maintain blood pressure. Less water also hampers the body’s attempts at regulating temperature, which can cause hyperthermia (a body temperature greatly above normal).


As a rule of thumb, you should try to drink about 11 cups (90 fl oz or 2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women and about 15 cups (10 fl oz or 3.6 liters) of fluids for men. As a daily minimum, you should aim to drink half your bodyweight in pounds (lbs) plus twenty in fluid ounces (so if you weight 150 lbs that is 95 oz per day)[1]. If you are active, then you should add an extra 20 ounces per hour of exercise and even more if you are in a hot or humid environment. Be aware that normal water needs range drastically due to factors like body composition, metabolism, diet, climate and clothing so you should be aware of other things that could impact your hydration.


You may have heard that drinking too much water is a bad thing. It is very rare to drink too much water although it is possible and results in the level of salt in your blood to dropping too low. A good way to make sure you are not over-hydrated is to check the color of your urine again; if your urine looks really pale then you may be drinking more than you need.

[1] If you are working with a metric scale, then it is your bodyweight (in kgs) divided by 30.7 plus 0.6 in liters per day. One cup is 8 fl oz or 240 ml.

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