Many here at PD have discussed hydration, and it is indeed accurate that the 8 cups/2 L per day rule is oversimplified. We are all different. But the amount of water I consume has never been at the forefront of my mind. I simply drink water…often. I have a 64-ounce bottle that I carry with me to drink from, but it never occurred to me how much I am actually drinking until someone asked me how many times I fill my bottle per day. When I said 3, they could hardly believe it. It took that encounter for me to realize that I drink at least a gallon a day, often a bit more.
But honestly, who cares, right? Is drinking a gallon of water a day really more beneficial than drinking the standard 64oz/day? I could write a derivative article, espousing the benefits of water which are preached to us all regularly. Such an article would be devoid of original thought or revolutionary idea, because there isn’t enough existing research on the benefits of drinking 128oz/day vs drinking 64oz/day.
Rather, it seems drinking a gallon of water per day is more of a trend. I’m not on social media, so I’m often “behind” in terms of popular culture. I learned that many fitness influencers are espousing 128oz/day. A quick internet search reveals article after article titled, “I drank a gallon of water a day, here’s what happened.”
Yet, the majority of the benefits discussed in these articles are all commonly associated with general maintenance of hydration levels. For example: more energy, less bloating, less constipation, clear skin, healthy hair, etc. We hear them time and time again.
But I did notice many reviews arrive at a common conclusion: 128oz/day helped them move past their fitness plateaus. And the science to support this notion tracks; this study found that drinking 500 ml of water increased participant’s metabolic rate by 30%. The increase in metabolism occurred within ten minutes of consumption and peaked around 35 minutes later.
If you feel good in your body, you look good. That is all there is to it. No body shaming or weight shaming in this camp. But, many still prefer to maintain a relatively stable weight for personal comfort or health concerns, and that is okay too. Drinking ample amounts of water helps our bodies excrete waste, balances our electrolyte levels and speeds metabolic rate, which helps regulate weight. So if you’re currently on a fitness journey and you’ve hit a plateau, try kicking up the hydration a few notches and see if that helps.
But please, do not make yourself ill. I am super active so 1.5 gallons is not unreasonable for me. But if you are not accustomed to drinking much water or are currently relatively sedentary, you may become overhydrated. (See PD’s previous discussion on that here.) This actually happened to me once, albeit briefly. It was a busy day and I was working on my laptop in a frenzy for several hours, stopping only to chug water and drink coffee. By the end of the day, I consumed 2.5 gallons of water alone. My fingers swelled and I felt nauseous. All that to say, I do not recommend pushing yourselves too much. If you are not thirsty, that is a decent indicator that you are sufficiently hydrated. Take a break and try again after 15–20 minutes.
Ultimately, I think normalizing drinking water and building it into daily life is the key. Water isn’t something I think about. Rather, it is a habitual comfort. But I know some folks do not like water. So if drinking water is difficult for you, as it is for many people I know, here are a few tips that may help:
- Use a reusable straw (I almost always use a straw, it really makes a difference IMO.)
- Add citrus fruits, berries or cucumbers to water
- Invest in a water bottle that you love and want to carry with you
- Spice it up with occasional sparkling waters and coconut waters
What do you think, will you try a gallon/day?
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Photo: Henry Be via Unsplash