Ok before I continue, let me clarify that the question “Are you drinking enough” refers to water and nothing else! And actually the theme of the blog came about because Alex and I were discussing a news article about a guy who had drowned from drinking too much water! But seriously, it does raise a few questions about your water intake.
How Much Should You Drink?
The NHS states that based on the “Eat Well” plate, we should be drinking between 6-8 glasses of fluid each day. And how big should those 6-8 glasses of fluid be? Well, another source states that it should be 8 x 8-ounce glasses – that’s 1816ml, nearly 2 litres, or 3.5 pints! But here’s the deal, these are just guidelines – how much fluid you take on board is much more individualised than you think. Our bodies are largely made up of water (between 55-60% in fact!), every system we have needs water to function, and we naturally lose a lot of water every day.
We need to consider:
- Gender, weight and height – it comes down to Body Composition. Women naturally have more body fat than men. Body fat contains less water than lean tissue does. (NB pregnant ladies also need to drink more water).
- Environment/where you live – if you live in a hot climate you will need more water
- Activity Levels – the type of exercise, the length of your training session and frequency of your sessions…they all affect how much water you should consume.
I used one online calculator. It asked for my height, weight, gender, activity, country and my current fluid intake. It said I needed to be drinking 3.41 litres of water a day; that I lose 4.1 litres a day and as such I was only actually getting 0.7 litres of fluid. Interesting isn’t it!
Can You Drink Too Much Water?
Actually – yes, in the same way that you can drink too little water!
- Dehydration – when your body loses more water or fluid than it takes in (based on that calculator, I’m probably a little dehydrated!)
- Hyponatremia – otherwise known as water intoxication. This is predominantly caused by drinking a lot of water in a short space of time. Essentially your blood sodium is reduced quickly and it can result in seizures, spasms and worst still – coma. It’s very rare though (don’t panic) and the people who are most at risk are endurance athletes and children.
The key here is that the “drink at least 2 litres of water” line is a starting point. Before you start even looking at activity levels or considering how much you weigh, there is a minimum amount of fluid that we all need. I was shocked at how much more water that calculator said I needed….and whether it’s accurate or not, I do need to look at how much I’m actually drinking.