How Much Water Do We Really Need?

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Whilst we all know drinking water allows us to remain properly hydrated, how much do we actually need? Can we have too much? And are sports drinks like Powerade necessary for recovery? Today on the Lifespan Fitness blog, we’re going to provide an insight into how much water you require and how regular exercise affects consumption levels.

Do we really need 3 litres of water a day?
There’s no denying that we need water – a significant portion of your body is composed of water, and when you sweat as a result of exertion, water helps you replenish lost fluids.

However, there is no real proof in the need to consume 3 litres of water per day. The reality is that we are all different, we exercise differently and some of us as a result will require more water than others.

Lesser known is the fact that we consume a large portion of water through the food we eat. A large percentage of the Earth is made up of water, so it is only logical that the food we consume is composed of water too. This includes fruits and vegetables, meat and even other beverages we consume throughout the day.


How much water do we actually need?
Whilst we don’t need 3 litres of water a day, how much do we actually need?

Are you thirsty whilst reading this? That’s a pretty good indication that you need to re-hydrate yourself. Whilst it’s a simple premise, it’s the most logical answer – drink when your body tells you you’re thirsty.

If you can’t dictate easily enough as to whether you’re consuming enough water, take the urine test. Your aim is to be in the ‘lemonade’ or ‘pale straw’ segments. If your pee is a lemon-lime colour, it’s a fair indication that you aren’t drinking enough water.

What are the primary signs of dehydration?

  • A feeling of thirst
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Low or no urine output
  • Sunken eyes
  • Feeling lethargic

Severe dehydration can lead to a number of issues – even comas can result from a lack of adequate hydration. If you’re feeling one of these symptoms, you’re well on the way to dehydration – but never you worry, consuming some water will get you right back on track.

Can we drink too much water?

You CAN over hydrate – it’s called hyponatremia which results from an electrolyte imbalance caused by drinking too much water.

And who suffers from hyponatremia the most? You guessed it, marathon runners.

What are the dangers of hyponatremia?

  • A severe imbalance of sodium leading to a number of side effects; even death.
  • The “antidiuretic hormone” is secreted preventing urine production – whilst you are sweating, you are consuming far more than your body can tolerate, leading to bloated organs and damage to the brain.
  • The brain begins to swell, and eventually squeezes arteries resulting in allowing less oxygen into the brain.

But remember, the majority of hyponatremia patients were drinking 1.2 litres of water per hour, and to the average person that’s overkill.

So how do we combat this? Once again, listen to your body – when you feel thirsty, drink.

What about sports drinks like Powerade?
The sports drink industry is huge – that’s no surprise to anyone. With marketing ploys surrounding the industry such as Michael Jordan (below) seen drinking Gatorade to help him recover from a flu, it’s no surprise that many of us believe sports drinks are vital to avoiding dehydration and replenishing lost electrolytes.

When you sweat, you lose fluids and electrolytes, this includes sodium and chloride. Upon losing these fluids, your muscles fail to perform at optimal level.

But here’s the truth. Unless you are exercising constantly, for hours upon hours, you will not suffer an electrolyte imbalance to the point in which you need sport drinks. In fact, constantly sipping on water whilst performing strenuous activity is more than enough to keep you hydrated. Sports drinks really don’t contain anything magic. They consist of water, sugar, sodium, potassium and additional artificial flavouring and colouring.

Water works just fine for the majority of exercises you will perform. You aren’t better off for performing a 30 minute workout followed by a litre of Powerade.

What to take from this article
I understand there’s a bit of controversy throughout this article – but let’s clear things up.

Water is important. It ensures that your body functions correctly and should be consumed when your body demands it, made fairly evident by a feeling of thirst.

  • For those looking to lose weight, consuming water before and during a meal can help you feel fuller quicker and avoid overeating.
  • If your pee is a darker color than normal, drink more water. If it’s lighter than normal, drink less.
  • Don’t bother with the energy drinks unless your exercise is intense.

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