stop trying to drink eight glasses of water a day
There’s no magic number for how much water you need to drink, doctors say. Even in this heat, you don't need to try to drink that much. What’s more, depending on your health, drinking 64 ounces can actually kill you. Long a staple of celebrity diets and women’s magazine stories, the recommendation to down eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is all wet, doctors say.
“The American College of Sports Medicine is advocating listening to your thirst,” says Dr. Ramon Julian M. Pesigan, a primary care sports medicine physician with Atlantic Sports Health in Morristown. “If you are thirsty, drink water. If you’re not thirsty, don't drink.” And how much water you need depends on who you are. Someone with congestive heart failure could drown if he drank 64 ounces of water a day, Pesigan says. Yikes.
And if you happen to be a football player, who drops four pounds during a workout session, you need to replenish two liters of fluid, says Dr. Dennis Cardone, chief of primary care sports medicine at NYU Langone. (That's actually pretty close to eight glasses, but we’re guessing you’re not Odell Beckham.) Still, says Cardone, “The body is smart. It will preserve fluid when it needs to and get rid of it when it needs to.” Your body’s also smart enough to get water from other places, like fruit and veggies (which also provide vitamins and fiber, something plain water can’t) and other drinks.
And as it happens, water isn’t even the most hydrating drink. A recent study found that milk, OJ and Pedialyte were all more hydrating than water. Sure, the study was funded by the European Hydration Institute, which is supported by Coca-Cola.
Nor should you necessarily drink a ton of those beverages. “Pedialyte is great — if you’re sick and dehydrated,” says Elizabeth Jennings, a naturopathic doctor with Metro Integrative. Milk, she points out, poses other problems particularly for those with dairy allergies.
“And pasteurized orange juice contains very high amounts of sugar,” she says. “You’re putting yourself at risk of developing diabetes and putting teeth at risk — all the things that go along with increased sugar consumption.” If you really don’t trust yourself enough to tell if you’re thirsty, check out your pee. It should be pale yellow. Anything darker means you’re not drinking enough; anything lighter, you're drinking too much.