We've heard the rule "drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day" roughly the same number of times we've been told that we should always wash our faces before bed (read: a lot). But, while the latter is pretty much universally agreed upon, the amount of water we should be drinking per day is more of a gray area. And since staying hydrated is essential for keeping our bodies functioning at their best—not to mention, it's key for helping us kick butt in our workouts and making our skin all glowy sans highlighter—we took it to the experts to see what they had to say.
So what is the right amount of water you should be sipping on per day? We chatted with Vandana Sheth, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Cynthia Sass, RD and author of The New York Times best seller S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches, to get the scoop.
Keep reading to find out how much water you should actually be drinking.
"There is no single number of glasses of water that is required each day,” Sheth says. That's because many factors, like your health and activity level, affect how much water you should be drinking. Sheth points out that the Institute of Medicine actually recommends nine cups of water per day for women. But does all that water have to come from, well, actually drinking water? Find out on the next slide.
Yet another reason to eat your veggies? Along with fruits and other fluids, they can help you meet your water goal. In fact, Sass says that about 20 percent of our daily fluids needs are met by the foods we eat. Sheth notes that watermelon is a whopping 91 percent water, and, shockingly, broccoli is not too far behind at 89 percent water. She also notes that the myth that coffee and tea are diuretics has been debunked, meaning you can add your morning black coffee to your tally. Wine, on the other hand, is unfortunately still dehydrating and does not count (we checked).
A word of caution: Sass says to beware of over-indulging in sugary beverages like lemonade and juice, under the guise that they're helping you stay hydrated -- straight water is still the best way to go.
In short, yes, says Sheth. To find the amount of ounces of water her weight-loss clients should drink, she has them divide their weight in half. So, a 120-pound woman would aim for 60 ounces of water per day. Sass also notes that studies have shown that people who drank more plain water tended to have healthier diets (eating more fiber, less sugar, and fewer high-calorie foods). Plus, she says, other studies have shown that drinking two glasses of water before a meal resulted in fewer calories consumed.
While you're sweating it out in your spin class, your body is losing fluids that need to be replaced -- or you can say hello to headaches, fatigue, and other symptoms of dehydration. Sass says to drink two cups of fluid (again, pure water is best) two hours before working out, two more cups 15 minutes prior to your gym sesh, and then try and get in a half cup every fifteen minutes during to stay hydrated and healthy.