60 percent of the adult human body is composed of water (and an infant’s body is 75 percent water.) Wow! Why does your body need that much water? And how much should you drink in a day?
Simply put, the more hydrated you are, the more efficient your body functions. Your body is constantly using water in some way, shape, or form. Think about your metabolism, digestion, blood circulation, cell repair, cell reproduction, body detoxification, inhaling, exhaling, and skin healing. All of these body processes can only run optimally when you are well hydrated. This means that even the slightest dehydration could be affecting your body’s functions, impacting your health and weight. Not to mention that thirst is often misinterpreted as hunger, so you may be munching unnecessarily when in reality all your body needs is some quality H20.
In 2018, the University of Connecticut along with the University of Wyoming published a study that intended to determine water requirements for adults. The study concluded that “there is no widespread consensus.” Why not? An individual’s hydration needs vary depending on many factors, including activity level, geographical location, sex, health status, protein intake, age, and more. So it’s hard to make a one size fits all recommendation such as the all-too-commonly suggested eight cups a day.
Found recommends drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day. So, a 150-pound person should aim to consume 75 ounces of water, or about 9 cups. Although this seems like another blanket statement, it really just sets the stage so people know what minimum to aim for. If you follow this guideline, in most cases, you’ll be hydrated enough to allow your body to function properly.
Dr. Rehka Kumar, Found’s Chief Medical Officer and an expert in obesity medicine, emphasizes the importance of adequate hydration for good health and metabolism, but says its role in weight care is not clearly defined. Does it contribute to weight care? Yes. How so and how much? It’s hard to tell at the moment. Kumar advises that people on antiobesity medications should be extra conscious of staying hydrated. Meds that suppress appetite can mute the thirst response and lead to dehydration. It’s also very important to stay hydrated to keep kidneys healthy and improve overall energy, she says.
Bottom line: Water is essential for healthy living, proper body function, and optimal weight management. The jury is still out regarding the optimal amount since each person has different requirements that can change from day to day when you consider factors like activity or weather. To stay on top of it, look out for these signs to help determine if you’re hydrated.
You feel thirsty If you’re feeling thirsty, drink up! This is a telltale sign you may be dehydrated. And try not to hold off on drinking to avoid bathroom breaks since dehydration can lead to more serious problems. Over time, your body will adjust to holding more water, leading to fewer bathroom breaks.
Your pee is dark Urine should be a light or pale yellow when well hydrated. If it begins to darken, drink up. This can be a sign you’re dehydrated and your body needs water or an electrolyte beverage, ideally without added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Headaches or lightheadedness This is often one of the first signs of dehydration. Rather than reaching for your favorite OTC pain killer, try drinking one or two 8-ounce glasses of water to help your headache subside.
Muscle cramps and achesDehydration leads to a decrease in blood volume, meaning your muscles and organs are not getting adequate blood flow. This can lead to cramping, so it may be best to rehydrate with a beverage that contains electrolytes rather than just water. A study completed in 2019 found that once a participant was dehydrated, susceptibility to muscle cramps significantly decreased with the consumption of an electrolyte beverage compared to water alone.
Dry mouth and lips If you feel the dreaded “cotton mouth” or your lips are beginning to crack and peel, it’s time to take a quick swig! Dry lips are a common sign that you need to hydrate.
Skin pinch test Test your skin turgor (elasticity) by pinching a small piece of skin on the back of your hand for 2 to 3 seconds. If your skin takes a while to return (normally it should go back immediately) after the pinch, you may be dehydrated.
Stomach pain Dehydration can trigger common digestive problems like constipation. Your body needs water to create stool. Dehydration also limits blood flow to the intestines, which move food through your digestive tract.
Lack of sweating You should sweat during moderate to intense exercise. If your core body temperature increases during a workout but you’re not sweating, you probably need more fluids. This is especially true if you normally sweat a lot. This means it’s time to take a break and hydrate. You may even choose an electrolyte drink—especially after 60 minutes or more of high intensity physical activity and excessive sweating.
Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving nearly 200,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.