First of all, how much water should you be drinking?
You’ve heard before to aim to drink eight glasses of water every day. That number is a handy guideline for the average person, but some people might need more or less. But there’s an easy way to figure out how much your body really needs. “When we talk about hydration, we have to talk about pee,” says Jen Bruning, MS, RDN, LDN, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “The best measure to know if you’re adequately hydrated is to look in the toilet.” If your urine is clear or very pale, congrats—you have good hydration. But if it’s a brighter yellow or amber color, you should probably be downing more water. Try these tricks to guarantee you’ll drink enough water.
You’ll be able to stand a more vigorous workout
One of the many benefits of drinking water is that it will help with your workout. Muscles need a good balance of electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium to function properly. Without proper hydration, electrolytes can’t exchange as easily, and the muscles can lose plumpness and be more prone to cramping. “If you’re working on building muscle, you won’t get that intensity if you’re not hydrated because the muscles are demanding water,” says Bruning. Drink eight ounces of water before physical activity to stay hydrated. You probably don’t need to carry a water bottle during a light or moderate workout, but you should have water or a sports drink on hand for vigorous activity or when you’re exercising in the heat, says Bruning.
Your kidneys will function better
Kidneys flush waste from your body in the form of liquids and they need sufficient water to do that. If you’re chronically dehydrated, it could be harder for kidneys to do their job, and a blood urea nitrogen test could show you if they’re not functioning properly, says Bruning. Plus, without needing regular bathroom visits, a hard mineral could form and cause kidney stones, says Kelly Pritchett, PhD, RD, CSSD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “When urine production is low, the kidneys are forced to concentrate the urine, meaning a heavy concentration of minerals,” she says. Don’t miss these surprising signs of dehydration.