The Ultimate Energy Drink: How to Stay Hydrated
The Sipping Point
Virtually every system in the body relies on H2O, says Lawrence Armstrong, PhD, a professor of exercise and environmental physiology at the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut. Water protects and hydrates our organs, transports nutrients to our cells and helps us stay energized and mentally sharp. It also balances the level of electrolytes -- minerals such as sodium and potassium -- in our bodies to keep our muscles functioning properly.
However, exactly how much you should drink is a slippery issue. The Institute of Medicine gives a ballpark goal of 91 ounces a day for women, which includes the water we get from food. And then there's the standard eight-glasses-a-day rule. But neither of these edicts is right for everyone, experts say. That's because you may have different water needs than the woman on the treadmill next to you. Not only that, your own water requirements change one day to the next depending on how hard you've exercised, if you've gained or lost weight, what your hormones are up to and what you're doing at any given moment. "We have a very dynamic and complex water system in our bodies, which changes every hour of the day," Armstrong explains. "That's why there is no absolute amount."
The best way to determine how much water you need for the day ahead is to weigh yourself in the morning, he says. To find your happy H2O weight, drink what you feel is an adequate amount (until your thirst is satisfied and your pee is a light color; it becomes dark when you're dehydrated) every day for one week. Each morning, weigh yourself on a digital scale first thing after peeing. Take the average of the three most similar numbers -- that's your baseline weight when you're properly hydrated. From then on, step on the scale every morning, and "if you're a pound lighter, drink an extra 16 ounces that day," Armstrong says.
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