How Much Water Do You Need Per Day?

How much water do you really need to drink every day?

I recently ran across another diet that urged participants to drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day and rolled my eyes. Just how long has this information been out there?

Have you ever tried to actually drink 64 ounces of water per day?  That’s 3 ounces shy of a two-liter soda bottle full of H2O. I’d wear tracks in the floor coming and going from the bathroom.

I decided to find out for myself the answer to this age old question and you know what?  64 ounces is actually pretty accurate.  Here’s the stats:

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are lots of variables that determine how much water you need.  It can depend on the climate you live in, the temperature of your surroundings, how much you exercise, even what you eat.  The best we can come up with is a general set of guidelines.

What Comes Out Is As Important As What Goes In

You want about 1.5 Liters (6.3 cups) to wind up in the toilet.  Your urine should be colorless or pale yellow.  In addition, your body uses another full liter (4.2 cups) of water for things like breathing, perspiration and digestion.  You get about 20% of your daily liquid needs through the food that you eat like crisp veggies or a juicy steak.  The other 80% comes out to 8.4 cups of water per day; eight ounces in a cup, and that’s how the daily water intake amount was arrived at.

What Goes In

There are lots of people who say that water is the only thing that counts towards your 64 ounces, but that’s just not true.  Your body is happy with any kind of moisture — fruit juices, soda, tea, coffee, etc. all count to your body’s daily goal — with one unfortunate exception: booze.

BUT (you knew there’d be a but, right?)

Keep in mind that caloric drinks can be an issue if you’re trying to lose weight.  Besides, the body prefers water; it’s easy to take in and process and immediately goes where it’s needed.  In general, sodas should be kept to a minimum because of the high calories or additives in them. Tea and coffee are best for your body in decaf  form, so limit your caffeinated options.  Bottom line: most of your liquid needs should be met with water, but you can count almost anything you drink towards your 64 ounces.

The OTHER But To Keep In Mind

These guidelines are for your basic needs and don’t include how much water you need to drink when you factor in exercising.  In general, you want to have 4 to 8 ounces of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise; less for light workouts, more for heavier workouts.

So how much water do you need exactly?  I found a pretty good calculator that lets you add lots of variables including weight, climate, altitude, and exercise to find out what you should consume for that particular day.  Have fun and play with it.

What did I learn today? Sometimes a fitness myth isn’t a myth at all. How many ounces of water are you drinking per day?

Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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11 Responses to How Much Water Do You Need Per Day?

  1. Jason Koertge April 13, 2010 at 7:42 am #

    I carry crazy amounts of tension and stress in my shoulders and two years ago my massage therapist said I needed to be drinking 80 oz’s of water a day. He said it works wonders for releasing toxins from my body and improving blood flow to my muscles.

    I decided to one-up that and try and drink about a gallon a day. It’s true, I have to take a leak about every hour, but I feel great! On days when I don’t get my normal water intake (I’m not even close to perfect) I can definitely feel it.

    When I’m drinking my water, my muscles are looser, my neck is less tense, and I’m overall more relaxed.

    Great post Lisa, thanks!

  2. Mikki April 13, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    Loving all the posts! Your analysis of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is especially wonderful, thanks for all the hard work.

    best,
    mikki

  3. Lisa Love April 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    Hey Lisa! =)
    The only thing I drink 90% of the time is water
    and actually drink 2-3 liters a day (I’ve been
    doing it for the last 8 years).

    I use a 1 liter bottle of Aquafina (that I refill
    for week) and it’s easy to keep
    track of how much you drink. When it’s time
    to buy a new bottle I just recycle the old one!

  4. dava April 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm #

    Years ago, I realized I was taking ibuprophen almost every afternoon to ease headaches. On a whim, I started carrying a bottle of water with me. Without trying or tracking or anything like that I was soon refilling a 20 oz bottle four or five times a day and no longer having daily headaches.

    Since then I’ve kept water close at hand and drink probably half galleon to a galleon a day. I still don’t really track it, and sometimes, especially in the winter, I drink much less. And yes, I go to the bathroom so often people at work wonder if I have some kind of issue!

    The only real difference I can tell is that I don’t have nearly as many headaches and need to pee more often. If you drink when you’re thirsty you probably get about the right amount of water.

  5. Amy April 18, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    Loving all the posts! Your analysis of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is especially wonderful, thanks for all the hard work.

    best,
    mikki

  6. Lisa Johnson April 18, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    thanks very much Amy … :-)

  7. Adam April 24, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

    I carry crazy amounts of tension and stress in my shoulders and two years ago my massage therapist said I needed to be drinking 80 oz’s of water a day. He said it works wonders for releasing toxins from my body and improving blood flow to my muscles.

    I decided to one-up that and try and drink about a gallon a day. It’s true, I have to take a leak about every hour, but I feel great! On days when I don’t get my normal water intake (I’m not even close to perfect) I can definitely feel it.

    When I’m drinking my water, my muscles are looser, my neck is less tense, and I’m overall more relaxed.

    Great post Lisa, thanks!

  8. Lisa Johnson April 24, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

    thank you for adding your story here :-) L–

  9. Jenny April 25, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    Good gravy! Here I’ve been aiming for my 64 ounces all these years and according to the calculator, after you take out the 20% in food, I should be getting 80 ounces – not pregnant. Seeing as I’m pregnant, I should be getting 102 ounces, if I’m not exercising. I didn’t even bother to add the minutes of exercise. But it’ll be another 16 ounces or so. I’ll take an IV, please.

    Great information. Reminder not to slack off. And I find you can tell when you’re getting too much liquid (as well as too little) just by how frequently you have to go to the bathroom. If I’m in there every half hour to an hour, it’s too much. Longer than about 2.5 hours and I need to up the liquids.

  10. Lisa Johnson April 25, 2010 at 9:49 am #

    Glad it helped Jenny :-) L–

  11. Chantelle May 14, 2010 at 2:39 am #

    I tend to drink very weak cordial as opposed to plain water (I can’t seem to make myself drink for than a litre of plain water). I mix it up in an empty 1 litre bottle and throughout the day I drink it – it’s useful to have it in a big bottle because it means I can make sure I’m drinking enough.

    I always get headache-y and lethargic if I don’t drink enough fluids. I can’t believe I managed to get through my childhood drinking far less than I ought to have done!

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