Determine how much water you need
Here’s an easy trick to find out how much water you require to stay well-hydrated: Measure how much water it takes throughout the day to ensure that the color of your urine is somewhere between light yellow and clear. Then monitor your water intake to make sure you’re drinking that amount every day. Some people prefer good ol’ pen-and-paper tallies and charts. Others use apps such as Waterlogged, Water Your Body, or Daily Water. Here are unexpected signs you’re dehydrated.
Set timers or alerts
If you keep forgetting to guzzle down your recommended doses of water, set timers or alerts on your phone to remind you to drink periodically throughout the day. Bonus points if you set your alert ringtone to water-themed songs (“Bridge Over Troubled Water,” anyone?). Here are other genius ways to stay hydrated that don't involve guzzling water.
Mark deadlines on your water bottle
If you need a system that’s even more rigorous, use a permanent marker to draw water levels and specific deadlines on your bottle so you’ll know how much water you should have drunk by any given time of the day. Follow your “hydration schedule” to the T, and don’t forget to keep refilling your water bottle!
Keep your water cold
Although temperature preferences vary from person to person, you’re generally likely to drink more water if it’s refrigerator-cold, according to Joanne Larsen, RD, a Denver-based dietitian and author of the nutrition website Ask the Dietitian. “I freeze water in an empty gallon milk bottle in the summer and take it out in the morning when gardening,” she says of her own routine.
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Use a straw
There’s a reason drinks in restaurants are almost always served with straws: You tend to drink more water in a shorter amount of time if you use a straw. Apply the same trick to your water routine, and you’ll be well-hydrated before you know it!
Drink water before you eat
TV personality and fashion designer Lauren Conrad (of “The Hills” fame) has one simple rule when it comes to drinking more water: downing a liter before each meal. Not only is this is a smart way to make yourself drink more water, but it can also help you lose weight by reducing the amount of food you eat during mealtimes, according to a 2010 study published in the research journal Obesity. Here are other surprising ways drinking more water affects your body.
Eat spicy food
Have you ever found yourself reaching for a glass of water after some particularly spicy curry or dynamite chicken fajitas? Kickstart your tastebuds and make yourself thirstier by eating more spicy dishes. The water you gulp down might not settle the burning sensation in your mouth (that's actually a surprising benefit of milk), but it’s a good way to drink more water!
Find the perfect water bottle
The more you love your water bottle, the more likely you are to use it every day. Whether you prefer big or small, sporty or cute, or plastic or stainless steel, there’s a perfect reusable bottle out there for you. Drinking from it should feel like a pleasure, not a chore.
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Sip before you’re thirsty
“Remember that thirst is not a good indicator of hydration status,” says Larsen. By the time you’re thirsty, your body has already lost enough water to reduce your work performance by 30 percent, says Larsen. Nip that fatigue in the bud by guzzling water throughout the day. Carry a water bottle everywhere—having it at your side is a constant reminder to drink up and stay hydrated.
Switch out dehydrating drinks for water
“Caffeinated beverages and sugary sodas will reduce your body water,” says Larsen. “Caffeine will stimulate your kidneys to excrete water, and sugary soda will pull water from your surrounding tissue to dilute the concentrated sugar in soda, thereby reducing your hydration. Neither are recommended to keep you hydrated in hot, humid weather.” So instead of reaching for that cup of coffee or glass of juice as soon as you wake up in the morning, quench your thirst with a glass of water instead.
Toss in jazzy flavorings
If you ever find yourself craving something different, try adding different flavorings to your water. “Using a water bottle with an infuser is a great way to naturally flavor your water, and it can be fun,” says Karen Sechowski, the district dietitian at Northwestern University. “Lemons and limes are always good, plus they’re in the grocery store year-round at a reasonable price. When berries are in season, I like to use those.” Some other tasty options include mint, cucumber, basil, orange, lavender, watermelon, and even a splash of fruit juice.
Eat your water
Foods with high water content (including cucumber, lettuce, celery, radishes, watermelon, tomatoes, spinach, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, zucchini, and other raw fruits and vegetables) can contribute to your daily water consumption. At the same time, Larsen says, “you cannot rely on just the water in food to provide you with enough water to stay hydrated. You need to drink additional water.” The best solution? Drink more water and munch on water-rich foods.
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Play a new kind of “drinking game”
If you have a competitive streak, rope some of your friends, colleagues, and family members into turning hydration into a sport. One Lifehacker commenter thought of the perfect “drinking game” for the office: take a sip of water whenever someone draws on the whiteboard, talks about another project, pushes back a deadline, etc. Working off the competitive edge and drinking more water? Win-win!