You may have heard that you should aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. How much you should actually drink is more individualized than you might think. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) currently recommends that men should drink at least 104 ounces of water per day, which is 13 cups.
They say women should drink at least 72 ounces, which is 9 cups. Even still, the answer to exactly how much water you should drink isn’t so simple.
While the eight glasses rule is a good start, it isn’t based on solid, well-researched information. Your body weight is made up of 60 percent water. While every system in your body needs water to function, your recommended intake is based on factors including your sex, age, activity level, and others, such as if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
The current IOM recommendation for people ages 19 and older is around 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women. However, this is your overall fluid intake per day, including anything you eat or drink containing water in it, like fruits or vegetables.
Of this total, men should drink around 13 cups from beverages. For women, it’s 9 cups.
If you find it challenging to get in all that water each day, here are a few tips to help:
- Measure out the water you plan to drink for the day. This gives you a visual reminder as well as lets you see your progress throughout the day.
- Have a plan. Have a certain amount you want to get in by lunch time. Set aside what is left for the afternoon, perhaps making it so there will be a smaller amount remaining for the early evening.
- As you sip your way through the day if you find you’re not going to make it, add some fresh squeezed lemon to your water and a few drops of natural sweetener.
In addition to the general health benefits of proper hydration, for years, dieters have been drinking lots of water as a weight loss strategy. While water doesn’t have any magical effect on weight loss, substituting it for higher calorie beverages can certainly help. Also, food with high water content tends to look larger, its higher volume requires more chewing, and it is absorbed more slowly by the body, which helps you feel full. Water-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, oatmeal, and beans.
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