You Asked: Do I Really Need to Drink 8 Cups of Water Each Day for Health and Weight Loss?

220SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/12/2012 12:00 AM   :  9 comments   :  21,294 Views

You've probably heard from lots of sources (including SparkPeople) that adults should drink eight (8-ounce) cups of water each day. But you might be surprised to know that there is no scientific evidence that supports this general advice. In fact, most experts aren't even sure exactly where that recommendation came from. One source of this myth might be a 1945 article from the National Research Council, part of the National Academy of Sciences, which noted that a "suitable allowance" of water for adults is 2.5 liters a day, although much of that already comes from water in the foods that you eat.
 
So why does SparkPeople emphasize water drinking? Here are a few reasons:
  • Most people today drink way too many of their calories from other beverages like soda, juice, flavored coffees and teas, sports drinks, fruit drinks, artificially sweetened drinks, etc. Drinking eight cups of plain water a day—in place of, not in addition to—these caloric beverages can help with weight management. Plus, most of these beverages don't offer any health benefits, while water does.
     
  • Starting a healthy lifestyle can be overwhelming. Even if you can't exercise five times a week, for example, you can probably still drink more water each day. By focusing on simpler goals like drinking water, you can begin to build momentum to reach other goals.
     
  • When it comes to weight loss, which is a goal for most SparkPeople.com members, water can also help you feel fuller. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so drinking a cup of water at the first sign of hunger is a good way to determine whether you really need to eat.
     
  • If you are following healthy, high-fiber diet, drinking additional water can help promote regularity and prevent the cramping and discomfort that often comes when you begin eating more fiber.
     
  • While you can get a lot of water from foods like water-rich fruits, vegetables, soups and more, following a reduced-calorie diet (for weight loss) means you're eating fewer foods in general. Eating less food means you're getting less water from food, so drinking plain water can help you meet your needs when food alone can't.
     
  • SparkPeople recommends at least three cardio sessions per week. If you are exercising, then you're losing water through increased sweating, which needs to be replaced. Learn more about drinking water during workouts.
     
  • SparkPeople recommends one to three strength-training sessions each week to build lean muscle. Muscle is made up of mostly water, so the more you train, the greater your body's water needs will be.
 
Some people worry that they could be drinking too much water. Water intoxication results when a dehydrated person drinks too much water without any accompanying electrolytes. You usually need to drink an excessively large volume of water in a very short period of time to be in danger of this, which is why it's not common. If you drink eight cups throughout the day, you should be fine.
 
So do you really need eight cups each day?
Like most recommendations, it varies. Everyone's needs are different and dependent on several factors, such as your weight, how much you exercise, how many water-rich foods you eat, the amount of muscle mass you have, the weather (such as heat and humidity) and more. But eight cups a day is still a good goal for the average person. The best way to find out how much water you need is to check the color of your urine. It should look like you squeezed a lemon in it. If it's much darker, try drinking a little more water.
 
If eight cups seems like a lot, consider how you could break it down throughout the day:  
Upon rising: 1-2 cups
After breakfast: 1 cup
Between breakfast and lunch: 1 cup
After lunch: 1 cup
Between lunch and dinner (when you start to feel hungry for a snack): 1 cup
After dinner: 1-2 cups

When you divide it throughout the day, those eight cups don't seem so daunting!

Learn more about how much water you need:
Water is a Secret Ingredient
12 Tips to Drink 8 Cups a Day
Healthy Beverage Guidelines


Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
 

NEXT ENTRY >   Sugar, Oh How Sweet It Is

Great Stories from around the Web

Comments

  • 9
    I talked to my health provider about overactive bladder syndrome which makes drinking 8 cups difficult. She suggested that 4 or 5 might be enough. I tried it and am so much more comfortable. Needs really are individual. - 6/17/2014   11:01:49 AM
  • SWALSH80
    8
    In order to get a good night's sleep I have to drink all my water before 8 pm. - 6/17/2014   11:01:15 AM
  • 7
    I break up my water drinking exactly like that and it makes it much easier to get it all in. I have heard you should take your body weight, cut it in half and that is about how much water you should drink each day.( I see this has been previously mentioned too!) Don't know the truth in that, but unknowingly that is how much I started drinking when I started this weight loss journey and it seemed to be the right amount for me. Gotta go - need to get a drink of water! - 6/17/2014   9:26:30 AM
  • SIRALEX29
    6
    One thing that has really made a difference in how I feel is drinking 8 to 16 ounces of room temp water upon waking up in the morning. I usually prepare a 16 ounce glass of water, sometimes with lemon slice, when I go to bed. When I wake up, the first thing I do is drink the entire glass. I sometimes sip some throughout the night so there is not always a full 16 ounces when I wake up. - 6/17/2014   7:59:22 AM
  • SIRALEX29
    5
    Every body size is different. I have researched and go by the following: Divide your body weight in half and that is how many ounces you need a day. For example, 140lb person would need 70 ounces of water a day. I have been going by that for years. - 6/17/2014   7:54:14 AM
  • 4
    I always heard that it's not good to drink (more than a few sips) with or right after a meal. It dilutes the saliva and the stomach juices that are needed to digest the food. I wait for one hour after a meal before I drink water (or other fluids). - 6/17/2014   5:04:55 AM
  • CHARMAINE.C
    3
    I drink a lot of water because I'm thirsty for it and I like it. I do count other fluid intake towards my 8 cups because I drink very little coffee and mostly herbal tea which I feel counts. If I do drink coffee I add the calories of the hemp milk to my nutrition tracker. I do not drink soda at all and fruit juice only rarely. Thanks for the article. - 6/17/2014   2:57:05 AM
  • 2
    I drink water all day. - 3/10/2014   11:11:08 PM
  • 1
    Do herbal teas count for the water? - 3/10/2014   11:19:01 AM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Join SparkPeople.com

x Lose 10 Pounds by December 1! Get a FREE Personalized Plan