HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD I DRINK?
WAKE-UP CALL!! Your trainer has dropped the ball, himself!
One of the biggest struggles for personal trainers, including myself, is getting our clients to drink enough water. Next to air, water is the most important substance, not only because we need it to live, but because if we have goals to become more healthy, a component of which is to become more fit, then the first order of business is to consume enough water, and most of us do not!
INITIAL FITNESS CONSULTATION
When I have my initial sit-down meeting with a new client, which generally takes at least 90 minutes, the first question I ask is “how much water do you drink on a daily basis”? Surprisingly, the usual answers are: I don’t know, or I try to drink enough.
Neither of those answers is sufficient for overall good health, and they certainly won’t suffice for becoming more fit.
AMERICANS ARE DEHYDRATED
Seventy-five percent, yes 75%, of the American population is dehydrated(for your own convictions look up the myriad of possible effects of dehydration!). So, my suggestion to all of them is to:
- Make your water bottle or container your best friend, and you never go anywhere without it, whether it’s driving in the car, at your desk at work, or in a meeting, etc. Let me reiterate; that your water container must become a component of your daily attire!
Personally, I freak out when I don’t have mine with me. Over these 44 years of training, I’ve learned that water fountains and refilling glasses will never suffice. And, secondly, I’ve learned, that as soon as I begin to drink less, my thirst diminishes to a dangerous point, when it’s easy to forget to drink throughout the day.
With all of that said, I need to confess that I’m a bit of a hypocrite with regard to water intake, but I didn’t realize this for way too long.
Yes, my water bottle was part of my body, and it was with me everywhere I went, but I had dropped the ball! Thank the Lord that it was time for me to do blood labs for my forthcoming physical with my rock star doctor, Dr. Louis Torres. My “bun” level was high, and my “bun-creatinine ratio was off.
DON’T BE A SIPPER
Yup, I was stunned. But, when I thought about my typical day of training clients all day long, I realized that I was a sipper, who had a sip and got busy, again. Well, sipping might work for some, but only if they are mindful of how much they’re consuming throughout the day, using some method of measuring, be it a large container, that shows the volume or a given number of smaller containers.
TRY THREE BIG GULPS INSTEAD
The beautiful part of this story is that in most cases my clients care as much about me as I care about them, and I listen to their opinions and advice. So, when I told my story to one of my clients, Mike Reppert, (whom I’ve been hammering for the many years that I’ve been training him, about his water intake), he had an immediate, very effective suggestion. Very simply, he suggested, that instead of sips, I should take 3 big gulps every time I touched my water container.
Overnight I doubled my water intake to over a gallon! And, surprisingly, I am more thirsty than I’ve ever been. I’ve told this story to all of my clients for personal transparency, for their own conviction, and for my own accountability. Now, many of them ask me during a training session, and they even text me to check on my water intake
It’s all about conditioning. We need to get our bodies conditioned to crave more water. Otherwise, we will unknowingly fall way short of what we actually need.
If your goal is to be more healthy, or your goal is to get more fit, or your goal is to heal more quickly, then hone in on your water intake!
Water and Air are our sources of life!!
IS A GALLON OF WATER TOO MUCH?
I did mention increasing my water intake to a gallon+ a day. So, do we all need that much?
Depending on your size, depending on your activity level, depending on the season of the year, depending on sodium intake, our bodies require more or less.
I hesitate to predicate water intake on body weight, because there’s a big difference in need for a person weighing the same as another, but being far leaner. If their activity level is the same, the leaner person will require more, because of the larger size and productivity of their metabolism, which is their lean muscle mass.
When I begin with a client, who’s tracking shows a deficit in water intake, I encourage them to take in 64oz to 72oz. After 3-4 weeks I’ll have them increase to 96oz. That increase is to cover the addition of activity and slight increase in lean muscle. Some people will eventually need a gallon or more a day.
Where we need to be careful is when we are taking in too little, and we increase too quickly, because our bodies must have a few days to balance the electrolytes in all of our tissues. So, if your drinking 48 ounces or less, take 2-3 days to increase to 64, and if you know you need to take in more than 64, stay with that for a week, and then spend 2-3 days increasing to 96 ounces.
Yes, you will have to visit the bathroom more often, but most of us should urinate about every 2-3 hours. As our body adjusts to the increased intake we will not be running to pee every hour as some of us had to do with the initial increase.
CAN WATER MAKE YOU FAT?
Now, here’s a great question! Water in and of itself can not make you fat, but it can give you mistaken signs of added weight, even a perceived increase in waist line and an overall less lean look, but this is temporary. If, for instance, I weigh 191 pounds on a Sunday morning first thing before I eat, and on Sunday I splurge with lots of carbs from increased starch and sugar intake along with taking in a great deal more sodium, I could easily weigh 194-197 on the following Monday morning, again weighing in first thing before eating. Typically, If I go back to my healthy eating protocol, I will be down to that original Sunday morning weight of 191 within 24-36 hours. So, a splurge meal or splurge day will erroneously throw anyone off, who is totally scale minded for measuring results. If I am doing the eating and exercise that I know I should do, the scale doesn’t matter, but how my clothing fits does. The only reason that I ask clients to weigh in once a week is to make sure they don’t lose weight too quickly, because body fat, itself, can only be lost slowly-.5-1.5 pounds per week at the most. And, since my clients are doing resistance training, they are building muscle while burning body fat, and muscle tissue weighs more than the same volume of fat. So, many times when a client first begins their new healthy regimen, they may see a 5-10 pound weight loss in the first 2 weeks, because they haven’t had time to really build any muscle, nor have they had much time to burn fat, so most of that net loss is excess water.
Oh, by the way, when we don’t drink enough water, we don’t purge toxic waste as readily, and we tend to retain water, because the body, which is comprised of about 55-60% water, tries to protect itself by holding as much as it can, but our systems are toxic and unhealthy!
HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD I DRINK?
Most often people are instructed to drink half their body weight in ounces of water. Personally, I don’t like that method, because factors such as activity, environmental conditions and percentages of body fat are not taken into account. When I begin with new clients, most of whom do not drink enough water, I advise them to get their intake up to 64 ounces during the first week, and, then increase to 96 ounces a day over the next couple weeks. For most guys and for all of those who increase their activity greatly, especially cardio, after 3-4 weeks increase to a gallon or more. As I mentioned before, these drastic increases should not be done overnight, but over the course of several days.
SHOULD I DRINK WATER EVERY HOUR?
First of all, we should all adopt a method of tracking our daily intake of water. Oftentimes, people will carry a gallon jug of water with them everywhere. If that method sounds doable to you, try it. That method can be a nuisance for some, because the weight(8.3#) can be problematic by itself as well as one hand can perform only one duty. Trying to drink from a gallon jug while driving is a pain and dangerous.
Another method would be tracking your intake on your smart phone, but you must carry a water bottle or thermos, so that you’re not depending solely on water fountains or filled glasses. What you use should be portable, so it can go everywhere. I use 24 ounce water bottles, and my goal is to drink a minimum of 6 per day. Personally, I want to take gulps all day long, rather than sips, so I’m habitually drinking and not relying on how much I’ve had every hour. As I mentioned earlier in this article, sipping did not work for me, because I wasn’t tracking bottles, so I had no idea how short on intake that I was everyday. By switching to 3 gulps every time I touched my bottle and counting bottles, I doubled my intake within a day, now getting around 150 ounces a day.
Even though I’ve been teaching this for 44 years, and I knew how easy it is to adjust and almost be comfortable in a state of dehydration, not even feeling thirsty, I had to have a wake up call! NEVER ASSUME!!
WHAT HAPPENS OR WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AFTER I’VE BEGUN DRINKING ENOUGH WATER?
Well, water itself, making up an average of 55%-60%, is a universal solvent, and it is the vehicle that delivers nutrients to all of our cells. As nutrients are broken down via digestion and eventually energy formation, a myriad of toxic by products are formed, and these are purged from our systems(should be) via urination, defecation and sweat. When we don’t take in enough water, we become toxic internally, holding on to the substances that should be purged, which can lead to inflammation in our tissues, organs and joints. Ultimately, diseases can more easily develop as well as unnecessary pain.
When we begin drinking the correct amount of water, because absorption increases, and because we more readily get rid of the bad stuff, we should feel more energy, perform better and sleep better. Ironically, dehydrated people even experience erroneous hunger.
Even if you’re not exercising, and you’re not focused on fitness, you certainly care about your health in general. So, if 75% of our population is dehydrated, then so many of us are in this majority group, and we don’t even know it.
WHAT ARE SOME PRACTICAL TIPS FOR US TO USE?
- Assume you’re dehydrated, until you account for your water intake, using the method that works best for you under all conditions. Regardless of the method you choose, track and calculate.
- Diet sodas should not count, because the body has difficulty absorbing the water from the drink, but we often feel satiated. Coffee and tea count, but we must exaggerate our intake, because of the diuretic effect of these.
- Have a bottle of water with you everywhere you go, regardless.
- If you find that you’re short on intake in the evening, don’t try to make up for your shortfall that night, because you’ll be peeing every hour, which makes it hard to get restful sleep.
- Once you’re taking on enough water, you may need to cut down on your intake a couple hours before bed, so you can get enough sleep, that’s restful