How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?

Among the recommendations for how we can all be healthier is one classic that is repeated by fitness professionals, doctors, and even parents: drink more water! Most Americans don’t get enough hydration, so the advice to drink more water is generally talked about a lot in fitness circles. It doesn’t matter if you are eating right, working out, and getting enough sleep: not getting the proper amount of hydration can ruin everything.

So, what is the proper amount of hydration? Well, different groups recommend different amounts, so we’ll help you synthesize the information.

The USDA recommendations are fairly specific at 4.2 glasses per 1,000 kilocalorie expenditure, which amounts to right around 8 to 8 and a half cups of water per day, per adult (if you go by their caloric recommendations, as well). At 8 ounces per cup, that’s approximately 64 to 68 ounces of water per day.

Many have said, however, that the USDA recommendations are outdated and we should be drinking more water.

The Institute of Medicine, then, has different recommendations than the USDA and different recommendations for men and women. Men should be drinking approximately 13 cups, while women should be drinking about 9 cups. This roughly corresponds to the differences in average body weight for men and women.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: drink at least 8 cups per day and add more the more you expend energy (for example, on things like exercise).

How much water should you drink while exercising?

Well, those are the recommendations for how much water the average adult should be drinking on a daily basis, but here’s another important question: how much should we drink while we’re actually exercising?

Well, the American Council on Exercise suggests the following:

  • 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours before exercising
  • 8 ounces 20 to 30 minutes before exercising (or while warming up)
  • 7 to 10 ounces every 20 to 30 minutes during exercise
  • 8 ounces of water within 30 minutes after exercising
  • 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise

How will you know if you’re getting enough water?

If you are dehydrated, there are a few significant signs. Pay attention to your urine. If it’s very dark, you are likely not drinking enough water. Dehydration can also cause symptoms like fatigue and headaches, so if you are experiencing these, talk to your doctor about upping your level of fluid intake.

And keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be just water. Try not to drink things that will dehydrate you more, like caffeine, but other than that, sports drinks and juice are good options to stay hydrated, as well.

Although there are lots of recommendations around for lots of things related to fitness, including how much water you should be drinking, common sense takes the cake! If you aren’t drinking enough water, it’s likely that you aren’t feeling great. If you are drinking enough, you will feel healthy and hydrated.

The more you exercise, the more water you should be drinking so pay attention to how you are keeping your body hydrated so that you can continue to get in great workouts day after day!