The single best thing you can do for your health and wellbeing is to prioritize hydration. Every single cell in your body needs water to function at its peak performance. An adult male’s body is 60% water, while a woman’s is 55%, which means we need to be replenishing our bodies with water frequently to operate at optimal levels.
Our experts specifically chose hydration as the first healthy habit to kick off this eight-week plan because it tends to be an easier one to achieve and stick with. Since drinking more water is adding something into your routine as opposed to taking something away or restricting intake, it can be a sustainable habit to build.
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Why is water important?
You likely will feel the difference when you are properly hydrated, and there is plenty of research that supports the many benefits of drinking water too. Adequate hydration keeps joints lubricated, regulates body temperature, delivers nutrients to cells, assists organ function and even optimizes metabolic rate. A well-hydrated body can also reap improvements with sleep, mood, cognition, digestion and more.
Most importantly, water helps with the removal of waste through urination and also replaces fluids lost during this process. “Adequate hydration is essential to keeping your body functioning at optimal levels,” according to Amy Fischer, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian within the Good Housekeeping Institute.
How much water should I drink a day?
You’ve probably heard the rule of thumb that you should drink eight glasses of water a day, but it turns out that the amount of water each person should drink varies. Women should generally drink approximately 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day, while men should aim for 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) according to The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
A quick calculation to estimate your hydration needs involves taking your body weight and dividing that in half — that is the amount of water in ounces that you should be drinking daily. If you weigh 160 lbs, you’ll need approximately 80 ounces or 10 cups of water a day. Those needs go up if you’re exercising too.
While that number may seem daunting to some, building a healthy habit with hydration should start slowly by building up to the goal number gradually, cup by cup. Consider adding an extra cup each day or week to what you regularly drink, so you can sustain the change. The good news is that there are many ways to meet your requirements. Drinking enough water may sound like a challenge, but making a few small changes can help you up your count.
Where to start:
- Start the day with water: Start a healthy habit by beginning your day with 16 ounces of water. After a long night’s sleep, the body is dehydrated and can benefit from hydration first thing. If you’re engaging in other habits in the morning like making your bed and brushing your teeth, consider leaving a bottle or glass of water near the bed or countertop to habit stack.
- Add some bubbles: Seltzer and club soda will help you hydrate, too. And, in case you’re worried, the bubbles won’t damage your teeth, according to the American Dental Association. Choose flavored or plain options, but skip brands with higher amounts of sodium, acesulfame-K, stevia or sucralose, as they can exacerbate bloating.
- Eat your fruits and veggies: Produce is packed with water, so add it to snacks and meals. Just one apple, for example, can provide up to 1⁄2 cup of H2O. So snack on extra veggies with salsa, add extra tomatoes to a salad, and get generous with your serving sizes of berries, citrus, melon, grapes and other fruits. The incredible vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in these foods are an added bonus while also contributing to your overall daily fluid needs.
- You should never be without your bottle: Keep a bottle in your bag, car, at your desk and when at the gym. Just having it in different places can provide a visual cue to drink more water. Need help finding the best one for your needs? Try one of our top picks for best water bottles.
Tips for success:
Try these simple tricks that may help boost your hydration throughout the day!
Make it obvious:
- Line up your water bottles for the day on your desk or kitchen counter.
- Fill up a pitcher of water and leave it in the fridge, so you have a visual cue of how much to drink for the day.
Make it attractive:
- Infuse your water with mint and your favorite sliced citrus.
- Add a splash of fruit juice to seltzer water for a burst of flavor.
- Try swapping out ice cubes for small pieces of frozen fruit in your water for a burst of flavor and antioxidants.
Make it easy:
- Incorporating a straw may help you drink more water throughout the day.
- Fill up multiple water bottles the night before and put them in the fridge.
Make it satisfying:
- Sip on unsweetened herbal tea like hibiscus tea for a hydrating and refreshing boost.
- Track your water intake on an app for a virtual reward at the end of the day.
How to habit stack hydration:
- Leave a bottle of water next to your bed to drink after you make your bed every morning.
- Drink a glass of water with every meal.
- Fill up your water bottle when you get to work every day, or before you sit down at your desk.
Recipes to try:
These refreshing recipes all have water-packed ingredients as the star of the show.
Nutrition Lab Deputy Director
Stefani (she/her) is a registered dietitian, a NASM-certified personal trainer and the deputy director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab, where she handles all nutrition-related content, testing and evaluation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from NYU. She is also Good Housekeeping’s on-staff fitness and exercise expert. Stefani is dedicated to providing readers with evidence-based content to encourage informed food choices and healthy living. She is an avid CrossFitter and a passionate home cook who loves spending time with her big fit Greek family.
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