Really? How Much Water am I Supposed to Drink?

For something so simple as drinking water, there sure are a lot of opinions out there.

I’ve read suggestions that you should drink anywhere between five and ten 8-ounce glasses a day and there are even online water calculators that can determine your water needs.

Drinking water

Let me first tell you that your body has its own built-in water calculator and it just doesn’t have complicated and that there is a wholly different way you can look at water intake that just might surprise you.

Your Body’s Calculator

Here is the problem with the five to ten 8-ounce glasses theory: While that sounds like good advice, it makes a blanket statement for everyone without ever considering who you are, where you live and what you are doing. You could be a person who lives in the North Pole or you could be living on the equator. You could be very skinny or you could be large. You could be a couch potato or you could be an ultra-athlete. How can any blanket recommendation of ten glasses of water really apply to all of you?

To personalize water intake, you need a measure of how much water your body needs on a daily basis. Fortunately, you have a built-in measuring system that can tell you exactly what your water needs are: the color of your urine.

It works like this: the color of your urine (barring taking certain vitamins that change the color) should be light-colored or clear. If your urine is yellow or bright yellow, then you are not getting enough water. So, whether you are a runner, a slacker, a north or south dweller, enjoying the sun or the snow, you can determine your own personal water needs by simply looking down when you visit the bathroom. Some days you will need a lot of water and some days you won’t, it depends on many factors.

But here is something else you want to think about:

You Don’t Need Extra Water

Maybe you don’t need to drink any water, or at least you might not have to drink that much.

If you are following a diet such as what I recommend (up to 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent protein) then you will find that you are not that thirsty and that you pass the pee-test for having enough water. The reason why you don’t need to drink as much water is two-fold. The first is that there is a lot of water in fruits and vegetables and that they provide your body with a lot of its water needs.

The second is that eating grains requires a lot of water; if you are not eating grains and sugar, you automatically drop your water needs. This is because grains and sugars don’t contain much water and need water to move them through your system. I also think that many people are allergic to grains and this makes your body hold on to more water than it normally would.

I, personally, only drink one or two glasses of water a day unless I’m out running or biking. This is a dramatic change from when I used to eat a lot of grains and I would drink many glasses of water each day.

About the Author

I'm Dr. Scott Olson ND. I'm a Naturopathic doctor who specializes in diet, health, nutrition, and alternative medicine. I've written numerous books and articles on health, medicine, and alternative medicine I want to help you get healthy! Take a look at my blog and make sure you join in the conversation!

4 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. How to stay health March 1, 2009 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    I too realized the importance of water intake recently. And believe me, since i started following proper water schedule, my performance at job and other things improved drastically. Just eating would not resolve the issue, water is very important and that too in proper quantity.

    How to stay health’s last blog post..Diabetes | What is it and how is it caused?

  2. Evita March 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr. Scott,

    Perfectly said! I have been trying to explain that same phenomenon to many people as there just is NO magic number.

    I personally do eat a lot of fruits and veggies and hence find that very rarely am I really thirsty. But I love all the other cases and examples you used.

    Evita’s last blog post..

  3. Monica Reinagel January 19, 2009 at 7:54 am - Reply

    Be aware, though, that a high-dose multivitamin (or anything with a high dose of riboflavin) will turn your urine bright yellow, having nothing to do with your hydration status. But basically, I’m on the same page with you! (See my podcast episode: The Dehydration Myth

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