View Full Version : water: how much?

Jeff Yan
11-26-2008, 09:29 AM
I remember hearing/reading once that most people live in a constant state of dehydration and that it's recommended to consume at least 8 glasses of water a day. I'm not sure what the basis for these are, and I'm wondering if this is all completely outdated research.

However, ever since mid-June, I've been on this water drinking kick. Yeah, it's healthier than downing Diet Cokes but am I really doing any benefit by trying to drink as much and as often as possible? Is this really clearing up my complexion or any of those other benefits that are often anecdotally associated with healthy amounts of hydration, whatever that is?

If I can finish at least two shaker bottles of water (~48 oz) before I leave work, I consider it a productive day (never mind how many hours I actually bill to clients). And I really feel like I've accomplished something on the occasions where I break the gallon mark in a day, even if I have to spend much of it in front of a urinal. But I feel like it's overdue that I critically question what exactly I'm doing.

So what's the deal with water?


Garrett Smith
11-26-2008, 09:52 AM
I'm of the opinion that about 1 ounce per 2# BW is pretty basic intake, more according to strenuous exercise or excessive sweating.

80% of my "water" comes in the form of herbal tea.

Nice article on the other side of the "drink water all day every day" crowd:

sarena kopciel
11-26-2008, 09:55 AM
Good one, Jeff! I too am curious about this as I find that my water consumption varies by season. I do remember seeing this book and reading parts of it.

Jeff Yan
11-26-2008, 11:22 AM
People may think I've gone a little overboard with my recent endorsement of water, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to read a whole book on it.

Sarena, any initial thoughts from what you've seen?


I'm well aware of the woman who died in the drinking contest. Unlike her, I plan on peeing frequently and heeding any warning signs, like the "discomfort" or "visible signs of distress" mentioned in the Dr. Ben Kim article.

Part of the reason why I started drinking more water is because of this article I read in T-Nation, Shredded in 6 Days (http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1957070) (wfs). I was really reluctant to post that because I'm now at risk of looking like my appearance takes disproportionate priority over my health and performance. I'm not a bodybuilder, but the article was an interesting read to know the reasoning and methods behind lowering water retention for aesthetics.

The T-Nation article recommends drinking 3 gallons throughout the day. Compare that to the two gallons the late woman consumed and held over a short period of one or two hours.

The Kim article is good. It touches on some of the things that occur to your body when you overhydrate. I just wish that there was a more definitive guideline recommendation of what is healthy consumption. This may be of no fault of the article though, as it's implied that there is no conclusively definitive amount range.

Still, here are some choice quote I'm taking away:

"The filtration system that exists in your kidneys is composed in part by a series of specialized capillary beds called glomeruli. Your glomeruli can get damaged by unnecessary wear and tear over time, and drowning your system with large amounts of water is one of many potential causes of said damage. "

"Putting unnecessary burden on your cardiovascular system and your kidneys by ingesting unnecessary water is a subtle process. For the average person, it is virtually impossible to know that this burden exists, as there are usually no obvious symptoms on a moment-to-moment basis. But make no mistake about it: this burden is real and can hurt your health over the long term." (emphasis is mine)

"Some people suggest observing the color of your urine as a way of looking out for dehydration. The idea is that clear urine indicates that you are well hydrated, while yellow urine indicates that you need more water in your system. While this advice is somewhat useful, it is important to remember that some chemicals (like synthetic vitamins) and heavily pigmented foods (like red beets) can add substantial color to your urine. Thumbs down for synthetic vitamins, and thumbs up for red beets and other richly colored vegetables and fruits."
This is interesting because I do this. GNC Mega Man pills make your pee look like neon/anti-freeze while beets make it an orangey amber. And sometimes I eat asparagus with my beets to make it all into an experience for multiple senses.

Blair Lowe
11-26-2008, 01:45 PM
A few years back it was suggested that the new food pyramid would endorse 1oz per kilo and this is what we should use in the gym. This was a baseline just for everyday function not taking in line towards training and athletic endeavors during the day. For instance, 3-6 hours of gymnastics training per day.

Garrett Smith
11-26-2008, 03:19 PM
I liken drinking excessive water as excessive/unnecessary wear on the kidneys in much the same way as leaving your car in idle while you park it instead of turning it off.

The whole idea of drinking water to "flush" the system shows very little actual understanding of how the body actually gets rid of toxic substances, yet it is always recommended.

IMO, the issue isn't with too little water to hydrate people, it's actually an issue of mineral-depleted water...both from the water we drink and our plant foods.

Hydration has two important definitions. The well-known one is "drinking enough water", which actually means very little. The absorption and utilization of said water is the important part--another more meaningful definition of hydration is "a measure of the water content of the body tissues". This actually means something health-wise, as the more intracellular water there is (and less extracellular water, as in edema), the healthier one's cells are.

Drinking enough water does not mean that the water does/goes where you want it to. We need minerals to absorb and utilize water properly in our cells. This is where water-rich plant foods and things like (my favorite stuff) herbal tea, which is water plus the minerals from plants, are much more important to long-term hydration of the tissues.

I'm pretty sure that at no time in the history of mankind have people been so obsessed with water consumption and yet still so unhealthy/dehydrated.

The mainstream folks are always harping on "drink more water, drink until you pee clear". I don't buy it. Overconsuming water is a real issue in chronic terms.

One thing I find humorous about the clear urine issue is this...once someone consumes enough beer, their urine turns clear (if it wasn't already). So they're hydrated, right? Then, many hangover symptoms are blamed on dehydration. So which is it? Does clear urine signal "hydrated" or not?

Greg Davis
11-28-2008, 04:20 AM
Usually I have a glass of water upon waking and then herbal tea during the day. I drink a lot less eating paleo-low-carb then I used to and feel better hydrated.

Sometimes I do get excessive cravings for water after dinner / at night. Not sure if thats from not drinking enough after training or eating too much salt..

Darryl Shaw
11-28-2008, 06:08 AM
Unless you have diabetes insipidus your body keeps electrolyte levels and plasma osmolality under pretty tight control so unless you're doing something really dumb you don't have to worry too much about any of that boring chemistry stuff. Performance is an issue when it comes to hydration levels though as being dehydrated by as little as 2 - 3% is enough to have a detrimemtal effect on performance however as mechanisms controling thirst kick in when you're dehydrated by about 1% all you have to do is drink when you start feeling thirsty to avoid any problems.
Our bodies give us plenty of warning if we're becoming so dehydrated that our life is at risk but we have no mechanism that tells us when to stop drinking and this can be a real problem for athletes who drink too much in order to avoid becoming dehydrated. People don't realise that too much water will kill you much faster than too little or that it can take as little as 1.5 litres of water per hour to exceed your kidneys ability to excrete any excess potentially leading to hyponatremia and, without treatment, death. So, how do you know if you're drinking too much then? Simple; if you need to urinate more than once an hour through the day or you regularly need to get up in the night to urinate and your urine is so clear it looks like the finest spring water you're probably overdoing it. In all but the most extreme cases all you need to do to remedy the situation is cut back your fluid intake until your urine is no darker than a pale straw colour but if you ever suspect that you've really over done things and start to develop a headache or feel nauseous you should seek immediate medical attention.

Blair Lowe
11-28-2008, 10:58 AM
Could it be said that filtered water at home ( using like a Brita filter ) is not as good as mountain spring water? Doesn't it filter out the minerals as well. Obviously, we don't need chlorine, fluorine, and whatever else but I've always thought spring water is of much better quality than filtered water.

I do as well supplement with minerals besides aiming to get them in what I eat.

Garrett Smith
11-28-2008, 11:56 AM
Sources of water is such a touchy subject.

Personally, I use an Aquasana.com sink filter, then I make herbal tea out of it most times. I think Brita is, well, let's say lacking.

Darryl Shaw
11-29-2008, 04:59 AM
Blair, I think this might answer your question -


Greg Davis
11-29-2008, 06:46 AM
I would probably invest in a water filter system if I owned my place but I rent at the moment and money is tight so shrug.. what I do is fill up a big jug of water every night and let it sit out on the counter.. at least some of the chlorine should dissipate..

Camille Lore
12-01-2008, 05:59 AM
Greg- your public water supplier may use clorAmine. That does not dissipate. I don't know about the health implications or how to manage this chemical, save what I learned taking care of aquariums.

sarena kopciel
12-02-2008, 05:18 AM
more info!

Tirzah Harper
12-03-2008, 10:20 AM
Personally, I find that drinking a couple quarts of water during the day means I do NOT have to get up in the middle of the night to pee. A solid night's sleep is enough incentive for me to drink during the day!