Friday, July 27, 2007


Tips to stay hydrated this summer

As a dietitian, some questions I often get asked are: how much fluid should a person drink every day? Do you really need to drink 6-8 glasses of water every day? Is it better to drink plain water or a sports drink when you exercise? How do I know if I’m taking in enough fluids? These are all good questions to ask especially with August, the hottest time of year, soon approaching.

Water is the nutrient your body needs the most. In fact, it has been estimated that the human body is made up of 60-75% water–mostly found in blood, muscles, lungs and the brain. Besides regulating your body temperature, water also helps nutrients reach your organs, removes waste products, brings oxygen to cells, and protects your joints and organs. Every day you lose water through urine, breathing, sweating and bowel movements. Certain factors like exercise, the climate you live in, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and illness can also affect your fluid requirements, according to

Most healthy adults consume enough water from fluids they drink and foods they eat to maintain health and bodily functions. It is estimated that about 80% of a person’s water intake comes from fluids they drink, and 20% from foods they eat. This works out to an average of about 3.7 liters (125 oz.) for men and 2.7 liters (91 oz) daily for women. Most sedentary and moderately active adults can meet their fluid needs by drinking when they feel thirsty. However, this is not the case for persons whose fluid and electrolyte needs are higher than average, like endurance athletes.

The amount of extra fluid physically active adults needs mostly depends on how much they sweat. One way to determine hydration status is by weighing oneself without clothes before and after exercising. If you lost weight after exercising, drinking 16 ounces of fluid for every pound lost will help you replenish fluid losses.

Another way to tell if you’re drinking enough fluids is by checking the color of your urine the first time you urinate in the morning-it should be nearly clear.
Now, what to drink? Water is a great choice, but any beverage you consume will help you meet your fluid needs–even ones containing caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, but for people that regularly consume caffeine, their bodies will regulate itself to that diuretic effect. Still, it is important to be sensible about your caffeine intake – the Institute of Medicine recommends avoiding caffeine before or after heavy training, when an increase in water loss through urine could affect your hydration status and performance.

Sports drinks are a good choice for persons exercising an hour or more but probably not needed in activities lasting under an hour. Athletes or physically active individuals need more salt and fluid to replenish sweat losses – so sports drinks help with this. It has been said that sports drinks contain the right amount and types of electrolytes to encourage continued drinking, which helps you stay hydrated and prevent cramping.

The bottom line is that optimal hydration varies based on individual fluid and electrolyte needs. For healthy, sedentary adults, 3.7 liters of fluid for men and 2.7 liters of fluid for women is an estimated adequate intake along with 1.5 grams of sodium per day. But athletes or very active adults will require more depending on how much they sweat.

And don’t forget, with the dog days of summer looming, hot, humid weather and high altitudes can cause one to sweat more and increase fluid requirements.

Catherine Schneider is a Registered Dietitian in the Food and Nutrition Department at The William W. Backus Hospital. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. E-mail Ms. Schneider and all of the Healthy Living columnists at

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?