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

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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 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

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Thanks Report
20KAREN 9/30/2020
Thanks for clarifying why H20 is the drink we need 💦💦💦 Report
V72392 9/30/2020
Truth Report
Thanks Report
ROBINRS 7/24/2020
H20 Rocks!! Report
NASFKAB 7/8/2020
Great Report
74KGSTU 5/19/2020
Thanks. I always find the last couple of glasses a struggle. but I'm getting there. Report
PATRICIAAK 4/23/2020
:) Report
BONNIE1552 2/15/2020
Thanks. Report
GEORGE815 12/27/2019
Thanks Report
Great article! Report
I'm a huge water drinker! Report
I only hear good things from people who drink tons of water every day. I’m about two weeks in to my increased water intake and I can say that my skin looks fantastic. Report
I he recommended 8 includes what’s already in fruits and vegetables Report
Water is essential! Report
8 cups is a good start.
It crowds out unnecessary sugary drinks, even food (thirst mistaken for hunger).
I tend to drink 4-5 cups before noon,
then another 2-3 cups before 6 pm - and no more fluids after that.
Helps me sleep though the night without bathroom breaks, AND I'm glad in the morning when I get to drink again : )
I'm addicted to drinking water. Even going out to eat I always order ice water. Report
I drink almost a gallon every day and still feel thirsty. I started the habit when I started running longer distances, but now my body just expects it all the time. Report
It’s difficult when traveling Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
It's easy to get enough water if it's distributed as suggested and if you're active during the day. Report
It's hard for me to get the water I need every day Report
It's hard for me to get the water I need every day Report
I all most drink 8 cups daily Report
I'm on my 4th straight month drinking at least 64 oz. I went from 0 to 80 over night. I'm doing it and I'm proud that I am but I'm in the restroom all the time. I drive for a living and it's difficult. I'm stopping all the time. Its adding time to my schedule. I'm hoping my body will absorb it soon and my stops not so often. Until then, I'm feeling great. Water is a miracle and we should be thankful we have fresh, clean water. Report
I don't get thirsty and have to remember to drink. This is mainly because I don't like plain water.

Mostly I drink coffee because I was brought up on it.

A dash of milk and no sugar.7 to 10 cups a day. Calories about 4 per cup Report
I need to drink more water. Report
i regularly drink more than 8 cups a day, not much more but some, because i live in a warm climate. Report
Very useful article thank you Report
I can't live without my water and have a 750ml bottle on my desk or close by me if I'm not at work. I have found if I feel hungry mid afternoon, it's usually because I've slowed down my water intake and a walk to the water dispenser for a fresh refill generally energizes me. I have my caffeine in the morning and the rest of the day is water with an occasional cup of green tea. Report
I am on 32 oz of fluid restriction per day. I would be in a lot of trouble if I had 8 glasses. If I have soups it would count as fluid too. I don't see water as my ally. Report
Good article! Report
I feel terrible now if I don't drink at least 2 litres of plain water in addition to a couple of coffees etc. My body is used to it now. Report
Good advice! Report
I drink water when I want to; otherwise I do not. Seems silly to force yourself to drink water. Report
Great article! I drink at least 8 cups of water a day. Report
I drink at least 8 cups (64 oz.) a day. I actually feel a physical change now when I don't drink enough water. Water is actually my preferred drink. I gave up soda so for me it's water, green tea, and sometimes I like a glass of juice with breakfast. Report
I drink at least 10 cups per. day. I saw a Dr. who did live blood tests that showed I was dehydrated among other problems related to my diet & my red blood cells do not move at all because of this. I get retested in 3 months. I also have less problem with my kidneys and before when I emptied my bladder I only went a small amount constantly, now it is normal. The dehydration was causing my body to hold water it needed to function. Report
Great adviceM Report
Great read!! Water in any amounts is a good thing!! As we age its a even greater tool. Aging bodies are prone to dry out(fact of life!).
So( if you want to keep yourself & your body comfortable (BM) the water plays a very important part to keep us "moving" (LOL). All kidding aside, HYDRATE often! If you live in a warm/hot climate you need to even more.
Drink healthy and eat healthy to enjoy life even more. Report
I do love water Report
Theoretically, one can lose a half pound a month by drinking 8 cups of ice water a day as a function of the calories needed to convert the ice water to body temperature. Report
I drink between 12 and 20 cups of water a that bad? Report
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. Report
In order to get a good night's sleep I have to drink all my water before 8 pm. Report
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! Report
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. Report
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. Report
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). Report