How much water should you drink every day? Do other beverages count towards your water goal? These are two of the most popular questions on our forum. The answers are varied, depending on who you ask. We've seen suggestions of complex mathematical equations to determine your water goal. Others are certain that everyone needs an even 8 glasses of water every day. Some members count all fluids, while many of our members believe that only pure water counts toward your goal, and anything with flavor, caffeine, or even artificial sweetener will not count. Why is this such a confusing topic? We were just as confused as you, so we decided to see what the experts had to say about the subject.
Everyone needs 8 glasses of water per day
Myth- We've been told most of our lives that we need 8 glasses of water each day. Some experts tell us that we don't need that much, and 5 or 6 glasses will suffice. The actual amount you need can vary quite a bit, depending on how active you are, your health and weight, and even the climate you live in. There really isn't an exact recommendation for fluid intake. It's all just an estimate and will vary from person to person. Most people let their thirst guide them, though many people make the extra effort to drink more. The Institute of Medicine suggests that average women may consume approximately 90 ounces of fluid per day, slightly over 11 cups. Of this, 80% usually comes from water and other beverages, and the remaining 20% usually comes from food.
Only WATER counts towards our water quota
Myth- You are replacing body fluids, and you don't have to depend on pure water to fill your daily quota. You can consume a variety of fluids, and you can even get part of your water from foods. Fruits and vegetables can be as much as 80% water or more. Even bread is about 20% water. The American Medical Association tells us that the best way to meet our quota is by drinking plain water, but that other beverages may still be included. A lot of our members ask if flavored water counts. It's a fluid and it counts. If you don't like tap water, drinking flavored waters may help you drink more.
We should drink 8 glasses of pure water in addition to any other beverages we consume.
Myth- According to Walter Willett, M.D., author of Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy : The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating "You may have heard that you need to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day in addition to whatever other beverages you drink. That's actually a medical urban legend, one of those facts that is repeated so often that it gains the ring of truth."
Drinking more water will help you lose weight
Part Myth We've heard that drinking more water can help increase your metabolism, and speed up your weight loss. Could this be true? Yes and no. A few studies have shown that drinking more water increases your metabolism, but apparently the amount is so small, that it results in just a few extra burned calories per day. You need to drink plenty of water to stay healthy, but you probably shouldn't count on it as a method of weight loss. Focus on calorie control and exercise to burn fat. However, many beverages contain empty calories, so replacing them with water can help you reduce your calories and lose weight.
The last drop...
Despite all of the myths and even obsessions surrounding water consumption, there's no disputing that it's good for us. It appears that we may not have to push ourselves to drink as much water as we thought. We probably already get all that we need, though drinking an extra glass here and there can help keep you hydrated and also fill you up. You don't need to get hung up on an exact quota. While we may not need exactly 8 glasses of water every day, it's still a good guideline, especially if you are not sure if you are drinking enough. Eating foods with high water content, such as broccoli or grapes, will provide your body with necessary fluids, and help keep you full so you are less likely to reach for more fattening foods. If you really dislike water and usually get your fluids from sugary soft drink or juices, you should try to break the sugar habit and learn to like water. Calorie free flavored waters are an option to get you started, or try adding a slice of lemon to a glass of ice water. Buy a good water filter for your tap, and keep chilled water in the refrigerator at all times. It's incredibly refreshing!
Institute of Medicine - Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate
Institute of Medicine - Dietary Reference Intakes - Electrolytes and Water (Adobe PDF)
Intelihealth - Water
WebMD- Drinking Water May Speed Weight Loss
Snopes Urban Legends
CNN with Paula Zahn