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Here’s how much water you really need per day—and 5 tips for getting enough if you struggle to stay hydrated

Fortune Well July 28, 2023


Here’s how much water you really need per day—and 5 tips for getting enough if you struggle to stay hydrated

It can be a struggle to stay hydrated, especially during the long days of summer. Those endless daylight hours filled with dips in the pool and martinis in the backyard may distract you from that water bottle you carefully filled with ice earlier. But dietitians say prioritizing water intake is doubly important on the muggiest, brightest days of the year.

To be clear, drinking enough water is crucial 365 days a year. “Hydration is important for keeping joints lubricated, transporting nutrients where they need to go in the body, good digestion and removing waste, and for maintaining proper body temperature,” says Jamie Lee McIntyre, RDN. “In fact, every cell, tissue, and organ in the body needs water to function properly.” In other words: Water is essential for nearly every bodily process. 

Generally speaking, women require about 91 ounces of water daily, while men need 125 ounces, according to the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. If you’re finding it difficult to hit that daily goal, worry not. McIntyre and Emily Werner, Ph.D., RD, team dietitian for the Philadelphia 76ers, offers tips to help you reach your hydration goals.

Why hydrating can be difficult

If you think you’re “bad” at drinking water, you’re in very good company. Many factors make summer hydration especially challenging, and those rising temperatures are a big one. “When it’s hotter out, your body makes you sweat. It wants to keep your core temperature down to protect organ function. When you sweat, you are losing electrolytes like sodium, and you’re losing water,” says Werner. In other words, you’ll need to drink more to compensate for all that sweating—particularly if you’re running, biking, or walking out in the heat.

Schedules also tend to pick up in the summer. And in moving from location to location, you may forget to drink some water. Before you know it, it’s 5 p.m., and you haven’t had a drop. Both Werner and McIntyre emphasize that if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so don’t wait until sunset to start getting your fill.

Finally, alcohol may flow a bit more freely in the warmer months. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that people drink the most in December (around the holidays) and during the summer months. “Everybody wants to go and do fun things. At the beach, some lean toward drinking alcohol instead of thinking that they should be bringing water, too,” says Werner. Alcohol actually dehydrates you, so it’s important to make sure you’re drinking from your water bottle in between spritzes and hydrating all day long before happy hour begins. 

These five expert tips can you help stay hydrated in summer—and year-round.


1. Add flavor

Many folks just don’t enjoy the taste of water. Luckily, McIntyre has a workaround. “If water is too plain, there are many ways to liven it up. Add a splash of 100% fruit juice. Use frozen fruit like mangoes and berries instead of ice cubes, or freeze bite-size fruit into ice cube trays,” she says. You can also throw slices of fresh lime, orange, cucumber, or lemon into your glass or sip cold herbal teas. 


2. Determine what temperature of water you like 

If you have sensitive teeth, ice-cold water could deter you from staying hydrated. That’s why McIntyre suggests thinking about what water temperature will actually be enjoyable to drink. If that’s room temp, ditch the ice cubes. That way, you’ll actually drink the full glass. 


3. Put a water bottle in every room

Werner tells all her athletes to scatter water bottles in every room so they always have hydration nearby. When you’re on the go, make sure to BYOW (bring your own water) just in case wherever you’re going doesn’t have a water fountain. 


4. Eat your water

“Eat your fruits to simultaneously help with hydration and nutrition,” says McIntyre. “Produce such as tomatoes, watermelon, grapes, oranges, and pineapple hydrate as well as nourish us.” She adds that these fruits also provide fiber, which supports digestion and heart health, as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support your immune system. So if you’re planning on spending the day in the sun, throw some watermelon or pineapple in your cooler. 


5. Set alarms throughout the day

If you really find that nothing helps you incorporate those extra ounces into your daily routine, Werner recommends setting timers on the half-hour or hour mark so you don’t miss a sip. After a while, this practice will become a habit, and you may be able to ditch those reminders for good.

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