Is it necessary to drink 10 glasses of water daily?

June 28, 2014

Q: I understand that failure to drink enough water can cause a person to overheat and possibly pass out under extreme conditions, but other than that, why do so many fitness experts preach drinking eight to 10 glasses of water a day? To me, this seems excessive.

A: Since we have already had some very hot days this summer, I think answering this question would be a great way to remind people why they should drink more water. So let’s start with the relationship of water to the human body, and I’ll work my way down from there.

Water is essential to life

The human body can last up to eight weeks without food, but can only live three to five days without water. This is mainly because water is needed for every physiological function, from breathing air to properly digesting food. It’s also because the body cannot store water like it can food, so it must be replenished daily or you’ll have some big problems on your hands. Now obviously, most people will drink enough water to stay alive, but many will underestimate the need for proper hydration and will never function at an optimal level.

Boost metabolism, lose weight

Drinking the proper amount of water can kick your metabolism into high gear, help you properly digest food, and reduce hunger by making you feel fuller and less likely to snack between meals. In fact, research has proven people who drink enough water eat an average of 75 fewer calories per meal and 27,000 fewer calories per year, and that could make the difference against a couple pounds of weight gain. Also, people often confuse thirst and hunger, and failure to drink enough water often results in binge eating and little to no willpower when trying to resist junk foods.

Prevent  injury and increase your performance

Drinking enough water can boost your performance during workouts by lubricating your joints and helping your muscles recover faster. This is mainly because muscles are made of 70 to 75 percent water, and when you become dehydrated they can’t function properly. Failure to drink enough water can results in painful muscle cramps, spasms, or even strains or tears. It can also cause fatigue, and lack of energy and strength, making it difficult to work out or perform at optimal levels. However, proper hydration can reverse the negative effects and reduce the chances of injury while allowing strength increases and better overall performance.

More energy and mental clarity

Most people associate dehydration with a decline in physical performance, but few realize the effect it can have on your mental state. Fatigue, anxiety and stress are all results of dehydration and can be avoided by drinking enough water. Remember, your brain is made of approximately 70 to 80 percent water, and if you are dehydrated it won’t function properly.

Drinking water is habit forming

Drinking enough water is habit forming, and once you experience what it feels like, you won’t want to go without. It’s like fixing an engine that wasn’t firing on all pistons; all of a sudden you have a lot more get up and go. At first you will feel like you are spending a lot of time in the bathroom, but eventually your body will regulate. A good way to make sure you drink enough is to track how many bottles of water you drink daily and then make the necessary adjustments to get 8-10 glasses or 80-100 oz. You can also put fruit or calorie-free flavor packets in your water such as Crystal Light or comparable brands to encourage you to drink more. If you are a runner and can’t carry bottles during your workouts, invest in a camelback - a water canister that fits on your back - and you will never have an excuse not to hydrate.

So to be clear, I believe that drinking eight to 10 glasses of water a day is extremely beneficial to your health and fitness level, and it should be a regular part of any fitness routine.