Its a question that has thrown up much controversy. Some say drink your 8-10 cups a day, others think its fine to let your thirst dictate how much water you should drink. Check out some of these articles for reference:
How Much Water Per Day – Fitness Black Book.
Drink Less Water – Mark’s Daily Apple.
Both are very good discussions on the topic and layout a good foundation on what you should and need to know about water intake.
In the past I have used my body as a means to experiment with water intake and see what works best. This has included drowning myself in water throughout the day right up until bed. And on the opposite end of the spectrum drinking very little water and going mainly by my thirst.
Through this I have learnt some pretty cool stuff and picked up some cool tips on how and when to drink for maximum benefit! Water is great and much needed in large quantities. The secret comes in knowing when and how to utilize your bodies ability to uptake water.
The best time to re-hydrate and have a large volume of water is upon waking. Our digestive system and internal organs are crying out for water after a long night in which they used so much water to perform their overnight maintenance tasks. Therefore it is important that before doing or eating anything in the morning to have at least 1 or 2 big glasses of water. I usually wake up and gulp down about 750 ml’s from my Sigg flask (which I always keep bedside)
After the initial morning water flush I am a firm believer we can let our thirst dictate when and how much to drink. Throughout the day if inactive there shouldn’t be too much thirst and therefore need to drink water. I usually get by on a few cups of Green Tea and sip on water here and there to refresh.
One time you should really void drinking large amounts of fluid are around meal times. Its a good idea to have a small cup of water before a meal (at least 10 minutes) but drinking liquid with a meal dilutes your digestive enzymes and hinders the absorption of nutrients so keep it to a minimum. Wine is fine in moderation with meals as it has a similar level of acidity to your stomach.
I also like to sip of warm herbal tea’s after meals as I find a hot drink can soothe and aid digestion. The Chinese have long known the benefits of drinking Green Tea after a meal as the heat helps break down the fat from the meal and it cannot be drunk quickly due to the temperature making it very hard to over drink
Another good time to drink a good amount of water is post workout. Usually 10 minutes after finishing. Drinking too much water during a workout isn’t the best idea as it will divert blood flow to your stomach which puts strain on your body. Therefore sip on fluid during workouts and gulp it after…..Another great way to hydrate after a workout is through juicy fruit’s, just think of the appeal a juicy watermelon has after a long hard workout! I also like to add a few dashes of sea salt to my water after working out. This gives it a nice balance of minerals.
Also be sure to wind down your fluid intake after dark. Its best to not drink too soon to bed time unless you are really thirsty. I always keep a flask of water bedside for the times I wake up really desperate for a drink. The problem with drinking too much before bed is that it can cause you to wake up multiple times throughout the night to go to the toilet, and this can disrupt sleep and therefore recovery…..
So to sum it all up let’s get the key points down:
- Drink loads of water upon waking to flush the system.
- Drinking water between meals is fine but don’t go overboard.
- Listen to your thirst and drink according to how dry your mouth is.
- Herbal tea’s are a great way to hydrate throughout the day.
- Green tea sipped after meal is a great idea to improve digestion.
- Wind down your fluid intake as your day progresses.
So in a nutshell I find its best to drink like a king in the morning and sip as the day progresses. I would be interested to hear what you guys have learnt about optimal water intake and how much you try to drink everyday?