6 Ways Your Body May Be Telling You to Drink More Water
By Cassie Weness, RD, LD
July 27, 2021
Similar to what’s happening in the rest of the country, we here in Minnesota experienced 12 days in June that were in the 90s and above, which was recorded as the second-hottest June in Twin Cities history. It has continued to be hot and dry since, with just a few showers of rain here and there to wet our whistle.
Interestingly enough, our bodies can be just as dehydrated as our lawns and gardens, especially when sweating in the summer heat wave. It is estimated that about two-thirds of Americans are not drinking enough water. Are you one of them?
How much water does your body need and why?
Our bodies are made up of only 25% solid matter (bones, muscles, organs, tissues, etc) and the other 75% is water. Not only are our bodies MADE UP of water, they NEED water for various important functions. Just breathing uses 1 ½ glasses of water! In order to filter waste, balance fluids, regulate blood pressure, balance vitamins and minerals, and several other key jobs, the kidneys need 5 ½ glasses of water a day.
We could go on and on about the importance of water (in fact, we created an online class for you all about this topic, Why Drink More Water?, that you can watch in the comfort of your own home if you’re curious!), but let’s get to the big question: how much water does your body need to function?
Because water is lost through breathing, urination, perspiration, and all the other functions the body needs it for, we recommend you drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, a 160-pound person should aim for 80 ounces of water each day (10, 8-ounce cups).
How much water have you been getting in during the day? Do you think you’re hitting your quota in order to feel optimal? Drinking half of your body weight in ounces takes an intentional effort, but your efforts will pay off! Here are six body signs that may be indicating you need to drink up:
1. You feel like taking a nap at your desk by mid-afternoon.
When low energy drags you down at 2 or 3pm don’t grab a donut, a cup of coffee or an energy drink for a boost. The sugar and caffeine in these options might give you an instant burst of energy, but the effects are short-lived. Often it is actually dehydration that is the cause of feeling sluggish and fatigued so have a tall glass of water to re-energize instead.
2. You feel cranky and unable to focus.
If you can relate to this one, research says your solution could be as easy as drinking a glass of water. In a study published in 2012 in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that even mild dehydration caused a loss of focus and low moods. Try to get to the fridge or water cooler every hour to fill up your glass.
3. You experience frequent headaches.
Your brain is about 85% water and if you’re not drinking plenty of fluids to keep your brain hydrated, the lack of blood volume to this organ can trigger a headache. Something as simple as drinking a couple of glasses of water whenever you feel you might be coming down with a headache could save you from a lot of pain and suffering over the course of your lifetime.
4. Your skin looks older than you feel.
Dry skin, which will result from chronically not getting enough water, is less able to repair itself and generate new cells. This will cause wrinkles to appear deeper and your skin will not have that healthy glow. Try slicing up fresh lemons or limes and adding them to your water. The extra flavor will help you want to drink more, plus the vitamin C from these citrus fruits has been shown to help protect against wrinkles.
5. Your gym session has barely begun and you feel drained.
Research shows that even mild dehydration negatively affects your exercise and athletic performance. With mild dehydration your muscles can feel weak, your body will fatigue much faster and you might even get to the point of feeling dizzy. And don’t forget that muscle cramps can set in when you haven’t replaced the water lost through sweat during a workout! If your exercise routine will last longer than one hour, consider taking extra water bottles or even a gallon jug to replenish your stash to keep you hydrated throughout a sweaty workout routine or sporting event.
6. You’re hungry again!
You may think your body is telling you that you’re hungry when in reality you are simply thirsty. How do you know for sure? Simple,…drink a glass of water. If the glass of water satisfies you, you know your body needed water, not food.
Remember, by the time your body experiences the sensation of thirst, you are already dehydrated. Stay ahead of the hydration game by drinking at least 8 ounces of water first thing upon waking. Then carry a bottle of water with you wherever you go, and of course, don’t forget to sip on it throughout the day. This is especially important and maybe easier to remember in the summer, but essential to continue this habit all year. Get in your practice now!
Do you have tips and tricks for drinking plenty of water each day? Please share them in the comments below.
#2: J. Nutr. February 1, 2012 vol. 142 no. 2 382-388.
#4: Am J Clin Nutr October 2007 vol. 86 no. 4 1225-1231.
#5: Can J Appl Physiol. 1999 Apr;24(2):164-72.
For more information, check out these resources:
- Learn: Why Drink More Water? online class – purchase now and have 120 days to watch while sipping your water
- Listen: Water for Weight Loss podcast – another benefit to drinking water
- Read: Tap Water: Are you getting more than you bargained for? – if want to take it a step further and filter
- Try: add Key Greens & Fruits or a healthy electrolyte powder to give your water an extra boost of nutrients and a blast of flavor