Try It Tuesday: Proper Hydration, Less Fatigue?

For this "Try It Tuesday," I decided to experiment with my fluid intake. I love being active, but I often find myself feeling tired or suffering from a dull headache in the middle of the day. Sometimes I attribute the discomfort to sleep or stress, but it almost always has the same common denominator: I forgot to drink enough water today.

People who drink copious amounts of water each day brag of feelings of fullness, better skin, more energy, and telepathy (OK, maybe a stretch). While water obviously has numerous benefits, I simply wanted to not feel tired.

As I embarked on my journey to proper hydration, I thought I should figure out what amount of liquid is recommended for my gender and age. We’ve all heard of the 8-glasses-per-day rule, but I wanted to know if there was a more specific, evidenced-based recommendation.

The National Institutes of Health outlines the Adequate Intake for water as 3.7 L and 2.7 L per day for young men and women (ages 19 to 30), respectively. Fluids (drinking water and beverages) should be about 13 cups and 9 cups per day for 19- to 30-year-old men and women, respectively. My understanding is that these recommendations may slightly change based on your activity level, the weather, or other varying conditions.

What does all this mean? For me, a 22-year old female, I should be drinking about 9 cups, or 72 ounces, per day of drinking water and/or beverages, in addition to the water I receive from my food. Below is a record of how it went for one day.

Wednesday. Hump Day. Let’s do this.

6:42 a.m.
I naturally wake up 18 minutes before my alarm. Sigh. I go with it. I drink about 4 ounces of the bottle of water sitting on my headboard.
Total ounces: 4.

11:13 a.m.
I am suddenly inspired to drink so much water, right at this very moment. This leads to an overly ambitious few gulps where I finish 75 percent of a 23.7-ounce bottle in one minute. I feel the water sit in my stomach and I consider pacing things in the future.
Total ounces: 22.

11:21 a.m.
I decide to take another leap and finish the rest of the bottle.I am feeling pretty good, but not quite ready to take over the world.
Total ounces: 27.7.

12:33 p.m.
During my lunch break walk around D.C., I decide to cool down with 16 ounces of peach/green tea lemonade. This counts, right? (Yes, it does.)
Total ounces: 43.7

12:57 p.m.
As I eat my lunch (after the walk), I am actually full fairly quickly. I decide to save what I haven’t finished for an afternoon snack later today.

2:24 p.m.
I’m surprised to say I feel thirsty. I don't know if my body is suddenly excited that I’ve decided to nourish it so diligently or what, but I roll with it. I drink 12 more ounces and have to pee immediately.
Total ounces: 55.7.

6:31 p.m.
Honestly, I’m not thirsty, but I feel like I should drink some more water to stay on track. Another 12 ounces it is.
Total ounces: 67.7.

9:44 p.m.
I finish my recommended intake with 5 ounces as I get ready for bed. I feel full -- in a good way! High five!
Total ounces: 72.7.

What I learned:

Pros: Overall, I do feel more focused and less tired than usual. I don’t have a headache either!

Cons: I frequent the restroom much more often than normal, and it takes a little bit of planning. I cannot attribute my attentiveness and lack of headache to more fluids based on only one day, but I do plan to keep this up based on my results.

Do you feel dehydrated during the day? Try these tips to increase your water consumption:

  • Break up the total amount of fluid into four smaller increments and consume those throughout the day. (For example, 18 ounces at 7 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m.)
  • To add flavor to your drinks, consider adding sliced fruit to your water or try low-calorie beverage options.
  • Invest in a decently large water bottle (<24 ounces), so you don’t have to refill so many times throughout the day.

Proper hydration is key to a healthy body, so drink up!

This blog post was written by Alyssa Ardolino, a dietetic intern from the University of Maryland.

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