So how much water do I really need to drink?
Plus: Watch the video above for the 8 things registered dietitians think everyone should keep in their pantries.
I have a love-hate relationship with water. Sure, it's crucial for survival, but getting myself to drink enough of it is as impossible as getting myself to do laundry before I run out of socks. We all know people on the opposite end of the spectrum too: the ones parading around the gym chugging from containers that look like they belong on the top of water coolers. I know my water-drinking habits are bad, but is downing it by the gallon really necessary?
To figure it out, I called up an expert—because being in a constant state of dehydration is just not right, but neither is living your life between bathroom breaks.
If you're still going by the whole 8-glasses-a-day rule, you're doing it wrong.
Eight cups a day is a cute start, but, in reality, a standard number just won't cut it. Many factors play into the amount of water you should be drinking each day, and even fancy online water-intake calculators can't give you a solid answer.
"To be blunt, the calculators aren't the best rule of thumb to follow," says Amy Shapiro, a registered dietician and the founder and director of Real Nutrition. "A person's water consumption is so individualized to their activity level, age, weight, health, and climate."
So here's how to decode your personal water-chugging baseline:
But the only medically tested, nutritionist-approved method of knowing whether you're drinking enough water is pretty simple: Check your pee.
"The best measure for adequate hydration is if your urine is very pale yellow to almost colorless, and you don't feel any dehydration symptoms," Shapiro says.
I can't say I'll become a water junkie anytime soon, but there is hope. Even after a few days of drinking more than usual, I'm already feeling—and seeing!—a huge difference. My headaches are gone, my skin looks brighter, and I've even stopped mindlessly munching chips and salsa all afternoon. I may even get a bigger water bottle for the gym.
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