Hydration is an often-overlooked consideration for many people on a day-to-day basis. Sure, it crosses the mind when one is working out or comes inside after a long walk on a hot, summer day. Hydration is super important, yet many people don’t pay attention to how much water their drinking. Unfortunately, dehydration is possible at any time, not just after a hard workout or time outdoors in the sun.
Many people wonder how to tell if their hydrated (or dehydrated) and how much water is enough water. The popular golden rule is that you should drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Here’s the thing: that’s not applicable to everyone. The first step should be to check your urine. If your urine is light yellow or clear, you’re pretty well hydrated. If, on the other hand, your urine is dark yellow or amber, you may be at risk for dehydration. This is a good time to consider your habits around hydration.
If you need to up your fluid intake, the best bet is water. Drinking water throughout the entire day is a great, zero-calorie way to stay hydrated. It can hydrate your muscles and your skin without adding unnecessary sugar to your diet. That said, we get that drinking water non-stop may get a little boring. To spice up your hydration, consider low-sugar, low-calorie alternatives like Crystal Light, sparkling or other flavored water, low-sugar sports drinks with electrolytes, and water infused with fresh fruit. Even moderate amounts of unsweetened coffee or tea can help keep you hydrated. Just don’t overdo it; caffeine is a mild diuretic (it makes you pee more), so too much can actually make you dehydrate more quickly.
While sipping water may seem like a simple task, it can actually be difficult to keep tabs on how hydrated you are all throughout the day. To keep you on top of the hydration game, we’ve put together some handy tips:
Create post-it notes and place them in places you’ll see. This is especially helpful for the self-employed crew who may work from home often. Sticking a note on the fridge or on the mirror in the bathroom can remind you to hydrate.
Be proactive. You don’t need to wait until you’re thirsty to drink some water. In fact, you shouldn’t wait because feelings of thirst may actually indicate you’re already dehydrated. Keep a water bottle on your desk to sip throughout the day. Also consider drinking a glass of water between meals.
Boost fruit and veggie consumption. Fruits and non-starchy vegetables are great, water-packed options that may help keep you hydrated. The next time you hit the grocery store, stock up on watermelons, tomatoes, grapes, and lettuce. Just be sure to remember that fruits contain carbohydrates, which may impact your diet.
Take water on-the-go. Carry a reusable water bottle with you so you can travel with water no matter where you go. Another alternative is to have water bottles for different areas of your life. You may want to keep one water bottle near your desk and another on your nightstand so you’re always just an arms-length away from delicious hydration.
When you’re hungry, start with water. We often confuse thirst for hunger. Starting with a glass of water when you think you may be hungry is a good way to decipher between thirst and true hunger. Drinking a glass of water before meals is also a good way to prevent overeating.
Kick up hydration if you exercise. It’s tempting to wait until after you finish your workout to gulp down some refreshing water, but it’s actually a good idea to drink before and during your workout, too. Sweat is fluid leaving your body, which means it needs to be replaced. Turn up hydration a notch on days you exercise.
Looking for more health and wellness tips? Check out other posts on our blog. Looking for a great health care plan that caters to freelancers and the self-employed? Take a look at our plans, which feature free primary care!