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How Much Water Should I Drink? A Simple & Science-Based Answer

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How Much Water Should I Drink? A Simple & Science-Based Answer

If you want to know how much water you should drink for health, weight loss, and/or bodybuilding, then you want to read this article.

 

Drinking enough water every day is like flossing.

It’s one of those “annoying” little habits that’s hard to embrace but pays big dividends.

“Wait…is flossing really that important?” you ask?

Surprisingly, yes.

Research shows that periodontal disease subjects the body to high levels of bacterial exposure, which increases the risk of heart disease.

Studies also show a strong association in the elderly between overall dental health and all-cause mortality (death from all causes).

So…floss every day! 🙂

(This floss by Oral B kick ass by the way–it’s strong, doesn’t fray, and doesn’t get stuck nearly as easily as others I’ve tried.)

Anywho, back to the subject at hand: how much water you should drink.

Water intake isn’t associated with all-cause mortality like gum health, but it’s still vitally important for optimizing health and performance.

The bottom line is if you’re currently not drinking enough water, you’re going to notice several immediate benefits by increasing intake to optimal levels.

In this article, you’re going to learn about those benefits as well as how much water you shoulder be drinking.

So let’s get to it!

The Health Benefits of Drinking Enough Water

benefits of drinking water

Water is the most prevalent molecule in your entire body.

It comprises about 60% of your total body weight and every physiological system requires water.

For example…

  • Water is a vital part of your body’s detoxification systems.
  • Water is used to digest food and shuttle nutrients into your cells.
  • Water is needed to keep your ears, nose, and throat moist.
  • Water keeps our joint cartilage lubricated and supple, which is vital for preserving joint health.
  • Brain cells require a delicate balance of water and other chemicals to function properly.

Thus, it’s no surprise that hydration status affects many aspects of our health and physical and mental performance.

Dehydration–a condition where water levels in the body are too low due it inadequate intake–can slow you down both mentally and physically, depress your mood, constipate you, and may even increase the risk of heart disease.

Dehydration is also tricky because it’s easy to ascribe the symptoms to other things. You can go crazy trying to figure out what’s wrong without realizing it all stems from simply not drinking enough water.

So, then, how much water should you be drinking exactly?

How Much Water Should You Drink?

how much water you should drink a day

Every day, your body loses water through breathing, sweating, urination, and pooping.

To prevent dehydration, you must continually replace what it loses through drinking and eating.

“Eating?” you say?

Yup, many foods (fruits and vegetables, primarily) contain significant amounts of water.

For example, research shows that, in the United States, about 22% of our water intake comes from the food we eat.

As you can see, though, we need to rely heavily on water and beverages to meet our body’s water needs.

And yes, all beverages count toward your total daily water intake, including coffee and others that contain caffeine (which isn’t a potent diuretic as some people claim).

That said, drinking large amounts of caloric beverages like soda and juice is generally a bad idea (and we’ll talk about why soon).

So, then, how much water should you be drinking every day?

Well, it depends primarily on your weight and how much you sweat.

For a baseline, the Institute of Medicine recommends drinking between 3/4 and 1 gallon of water per day for adult men and women.

If you’re a regular here at Muscle for Life, you probably do quite a bit of exercise, and this increases the amount of water your body needs.

Specifically, you want to replace all water lost through sweating.

When we’re talking exercise, the amount of water lost can range anywhere from 3/4 to 2 liters per hour depending on intensity and climate and how much your body generally tends to sweat.

The climate you live in affects your body’s water needs as well.

I live in Florida and in the summer, you start sweating within 30 seconds of going outside. Within 5 to 10 minutes, you’re probably sweating about as much as you do during exercise.

So, if you start with a baseline water intake of about 3/4 to 1 gallon per day, add 1 to 1.5 liters per hour of exercise, plus a bit more for additional sweating, you’ll be good.

For me, that’s about 1.5 to 2 gallons per day depending on how much exercise I’m doing that day and the time of year and how much time I’m spending outside.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

What Types of Water Should You Drink?

how many ounces of water should i drink

Now that you know how much water you should be drinking, let’s talk about types of water to drink.

Tap Water

While some people assume there’s nothing wrong with tap water, research has shown that it is becoming more and more contaminated with all kinds of pollutants, including…

  • bacteria,
  • pharmaceuticals,
  • heavy metals,
  • and various types of poisonous chemicals.

Many people are aware of this (or just don’t like the taste of tap water) and drink bottled water instead, but that’s not necessarily better…

Bottled Water

how much water should i drink a day

Bottled water isn’t just exorbitantly expensive–research has shown that it can be chock full of chemicals too.

One study examined 18 different bottled waters from 13 different companies and found over 24,000 chemicals present including endocrine disruptors.

Martin Wagner, a scientist at Goethe University Frankfurt’s Department of Aquatic Ecotoxicology, had this to say:

“Bottled water had a higher contamination of chemicals than glass bottles. There are many compounds in bottled water that we don’t want to have there. Part is leaching from the plastic bottles, lids or contamination of the well.”

This is why I recommend (and personally drink) filtered tap water.

Water Filters

how much water you should drink to lose weight

When it comes to water filtration, you have quite a few options…and some are much better than others.

The key to judging them is the amount of dissolved solids they leave in the water, which can be measured in terms of “parts per millions.”

When we’re talking filtered tap water, the closer to 0 PPM, the better. (Unfiltered tap water generally tests at anywhere from 200 to 700 PPM.)

You can measure the levels of dissolved solids in your water using an electronic water tester like this one from ZeroWater:

zerowater-water-tester

Now, I’ve tried quite a few filtered pitchers and have been regularly disappointed both in the taste and PPM readings of the water they produce.

The ZeroWater ZP-010 is the first that impressed me.

The water tasted extremely clean (neutral) and tested at 0 to 1 PPM. A filter also lasts a solid 80 to 90 gallons, making it quite affordable.

Furthermore, the ZP-010 comes with a TDS (total dissolved solids) meter so you can easily see when it’s time to change the filter.

ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Pitcher

Another great option for water filtration is a reverse osmosis system.

This type of water filtration is extremely effective at removing unwanted molecules. A good RO system will produce 0 to 5 PPM water for many months before needing a change of filters.

Personally I use this under-sink system from a relatively obscure company called Pure Water Systems.

 

 

 

 

 

The system is expensive and their website is hideous but the water this thing produces is fantastic.

It can take a beating too.

I have one at the office that everyone uses (probably about 10 gallons per day) and it went a year without a filter change and was still producing water under 10 PPM.

How Much Water Should You Drink to Lose Weight?

how much water should i drink to lose weight

People love “easy” weight loss tips, and nothing sounds easier than “drink more water and lose more weight.”

Well, the amount of water you drink isn’t going to make or break your fat loss efforts, but drinking enough can actually help.

Research shows that increasing water intake is an effective way of increasing fullness, thus helping you fight off hunger and stick to your diet.

You may have heard that increasing your water intake can speed up your metabolism as well.

Well, research is conflicting on this point.

On one hand, studies suggest that drinking water increases basal metabolic rate (mainly due to the body having to heat it up to its internal temperature.

And on the other hand, at least one study has found no such effects.

Whether drinking water increases the amount of energy your body burns doesn’t really matter, though.

If you get a small metabolic boost, great. If you don’t, there are plenty of other things you can do to speed up fat loss.

Why Drinking Your Calories Is a Bad Idea

how much water should i drink to lose weight fast

I mentioned earlier that water found in all beverages “counts” toward your daily water intake…

…but that drinking caloric beverages is generally a bad idea.

Well, the major problem with drinks that contain calories–ranging from soda to sports and energy drinks to fruit juices–is calorie for calorie, they don’t trigger fullness like food does.

You can drink 1,000 calories and be hungry an hour later, whereas eating 1,000 calories of food, including a good portion of protein and fiber, will probably keep you full for 5 to 6 hours.

Here’s a quote from a study conducted by scientists at Purdue University, which investigated the influence of meal timing and food form on daily energy intake:

“Based on the appetitive findings, consumption of an energy-yielding beverage either with a meal or as a snack poses a greater risk for promoting positive energy than macronutrient-matched semisolid or solid foods consumed at these times.”

That is, people that drink calories are much more likely to overeat than those that don’t.

This is why research shows a clear association between greater intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain, in both adults and children.

How Much Water Should You Drink for Bodybuilding?

recommended water intake

When it comes to building muscle and strength, many people ask questions like…

But few people wonder about how much water they should be drinking.

Well, as muscles are about 75% water, it’s no surprise that staying hydrated helps you build muscle and strength faster.

And no, that isn’t to say that water is “anabolic” or that the more water you drink, the more muscle you build.

It’s simpler than that.

Research shows that hydration status significantly affects weightlifting performance.

The more dehydrated you are, the lower your strength and muscle endurance are going to be in the gym.

And the weaker and more tired you are in your workouts, the less you’ll progress in your weightlifting and hence your strength and physique.

Another interesting point worth noting is studies also show that cell hydration status relates to protein synthesis and breakdown rates.

Dehydrated cells shrink, which in turn promotes protein breakdown. Hydrated cells swell, which in turn counteracts it.

As muscle growth is simply the result of more protein synthesis than breakdown over time, the implications of this are clear.

Muscle cells that are kept well hydrated are going to grow faster than ones that aren’t.

 

 

 

 

 

So, the takeaway message here really is the same as with weight loss:

Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day and you’ll reap the bodybuilding benefits.

The Bottom Line on How Much Water You Should Drink

how much water should you drink

If you’re currently not drinking enough water, you might be surprised at how beneficial increasing your intake will be.

  • Your mind can get sharper.
  • Your mood can improve.
  • Your digestion can improve.
  • You can perform better in your workouts.
  • You can build muscle and lose fat faster.
  • And more…

So, while getting into the habit of drinking about a gallon of water per day can be hard, it’s well worth the effort. And once you get used to it, it just becomes second nature.

Happy hydrating! 🙂

 

What’s your take on how much water you should drink? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

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  • TD

    First off, I use that same floss from Oral B too, and love it! 🙂 Second, I’m not a fan of drinking water per say. Although during the summer months, it gets really hot and humid here on the East Coast so drinking water becomes easier for me. During the cooler months, I much prefer to drink herbal or black (with no milk or sweetener added) tea. I also know if I need to drink a little more by the color of my urine. Most days, I’d estimate I drink about 11-12 glasses of water.

    • Nice! Haha.

      Tea is nice way to get your water in too.

      If you’re drinking 11-13 glasses a day that should put you around the 1 gallon mark so you’re good. 🙂

      Yep, that’s FL for you. It’s ridiculous.

  • Bryce Aaron Buell

    My dentist says, “only floss the teeth you want to keep.”

  • Zeppelin

    Timely article. I typically have a glass of water with each meal, and I’ll take swigs from the fountain at the gym between sets, but I’m very bad about drinking water during the day. I need to be better about this. Thanks.

    • Yeah it’s easy to forget. Let’s get that water intake up! My pleasure.

  • Bill

    1.5 gallons?? That’s a lot of water. I am not thirsty enough.

  • Ewan Sinclair

    Hi Mike another great article! If I’m shredding and doing my weight training and in the day and my cardio in the evenings(after dinner) should I eat after my run or sleep it off? Thanks

  • Lachie

    Great article mate. Have you heard/researched the affects of drinking too much water? I’m pretty sure I do that sometimes. I was recently drinking just under a gallon a day but I felt like I was flushing my system out too much (constantly peeing clear pee). Occasionally I take some electrolytes to counter balance. I’m a bit unsure of possible negative effects of drinking a galon or so. Thought you you be the person to ask.

    • Thanks!

      Yeah check out hyperhydrosis. It’s kinda hard to do though haha. One gallon isn’t going to do it.

  • Will

    Hey Mr. Matthews,

    I sent you a question a while back, however, it’s been quite a long while and i didn’t receive a reply, so I guess I’ll ask here?

    I have 2 questions. I’m looking to start my own site like you. Would you recommend using your real name for a site or a pen name like you used ‘Sean Patrick’ for your nonfiction books, are privacy issues ever a concern for you?

    Also, when writing a blog post, where do you get your photos and images, and do you need to ask permission to use photos for your blog postings?

    Apologies if this has nothing to do with the ‘How much water you should drink’ post, I don’t know where else to reach you at?

    • Doh! Sorry man. Must have gotten lost.

      1. Up to you on the pen name. The reason I use the SP name for other projects is I don’t want to confuse people (why is this guy writing about fitness, the Bill of Rights, self help, fiction [coming next year], etc.).

      2. I buy all images from 123rf.com.

      • Will

        For some posts, I see that you use images from memes or celebrities? Where are these images from? Do you need to ask permission to use these images? Which images are in the ‘public domain’ which are available for use on a site?

  • I can’t be the only one who immediately picked up their water bottle and started chugging immediately after reading the title lol.

  • Ryan

    Hey Mike,

    Thanks for the article. I’ve definitely struggled with trying to get into the habit. What’s your take on diet soda with respect to daily use? It sounds like you would include it in your water total but are there issues with daily use? I’ve found it keeps me more full than water when dieting but I didn’t have it every day.

    Thanks!

    • My pleasure! I’m generally not a fan of diet soda. I don’t like regular consumption of artificial sweeteners and flavors.

  • Dacero

    Hey Mike!! Nice article!! I was a heavy consumer of sodas 4-6 16 ounces glasses per day, in the last months I have decreased that amount to one time per week and I am drinking a lot of water, I dont feel bloated anymore and I am feeling great!! I thought that the bloated feeling I had been experiencing with the excess soda was normal since I was doing it every single day, now, I feel much better without it!! How often do you drink sodas or sugary drinks?

    • Thanks!

      Good job on lowering your intake of soda!

      Honestly, I don’t drink them at all really. Totally fine to drink them once a week though.

      • Dacero

        Thanks!! When you go out to restaurants with the lady or son, what do you drink?

  • bill

    My personal experience is right in line with your article Mike. EVERYTHING functions better when I’m getting enough water. Like food intake, it helps to track it-the amount suggested here is probably a lot more than ‘normal’, but it’s not too difficult to develop good habits.

    • Yep, everything just works better when you keep your water intake high. Glad you’re noticing it for yourself. 🙂

  • Centauris

    I think it’s also worth noting the improvements to one’s skin. I started drinking at least 2 litres of water per day about 3 years ago. first 6 months my bladder hated me and my skin was a bit of a mess, but I pushed on knowing the benefits and now 2 and a half years on, my skin is clear as a bell 99% of the time, I never feel bloated from it and I pee like a normal person haha

    • Another reason why you should drink a good amount of water daily. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Mandeep

    Hi Mike,
    Have you found any correlation with hyrdation and cramps? After a big workout last week my calf cramped so bad I appear to have injured it (didn’t even exercise calfs). Occasionally I’ll wake because of a cramped foot.
    Typically I’ll chug four coffees and 1-2 litres (1/4 to 1/2 gallon) of water plus another 1-2 litres pre / intra / post work out.
    This week I’m reducing coffee to three cups and trying for minimum 2.5 litres of water (keeping pre/intra/post workout the same). I’m currently peeing like a camel, clear pee sometimes 30 mins after I’ve just been – this is quite disruptive at work, also woke up twice in the night to go.
    I’m in the UK in Autumn, and its around 10 degrees C (50 deg F)
    When you said to the other person they get used to it – do you mean you learn to live with all this? Or that the body starts to utilise the water better? I feel my body is saying ‘too much water!’

    • Yeah you’re going to cramp more if you’re dehydrated.

      That said you’re drinking plenty of liquids.

      You’ll pee less. 🙂 Bladder probably expands.

    • Angela

      You’re probably Mg deficient. Start taking about 500mg per day in 4 divided doses and see if that helps your leg and foot cramps. It worked wonders for me.👍

  • Darren Moore

    Great article Mike, thanks for writing! You’re right on…I don’t think people realize how important it is to drink enough water daily. As we eat more protein and take supplements such as creatine along with all the other actives you mentioned, our kidneys are working extra hard to flush out those toxins. So drinking more water is super critical In assisting the kidneys. It gives them a break from having to work so hard to break down the toxins. It’s sort of like driving a car with your foot on the gas peddle and one foot on the brake. One day those breaks are going to wear out if you keep doing that! Drinking water also helps lower the chances of kidney stones, infections and headaches.

    I drink gallon a day sometimes more and make sure I pee clear 6 times. At first it was hard because I was going pee every 30 minutes at work. I am sure my coworkers thought I was crazy or something was wrong with me lol. After awhile the trips to the bathroom became less.

    So keep life and keep strong, drink more water everyone!!!

    • My pleasure! Glad you enjoyed it.

      Yep, that’s a great way to put it. Good job on getting the gallon in a day! Glad your body adjusted to the water intake. 🙂

      Keep it up!

  • Francis

    Hi Mike do you reccomend to drink water along meals? If yes , how many glasses recomended?

    • There isn’t a specific amount you need to drink with meals, but it does help with digestion. Just get that gallon a day, and you’ll be good. 🙂

  • Azouri

    Hey mike, should I be drinking the same amount of water everyday, or drink baseline on rest days and on the days I workout I add a litre to a litre and a half every hour of exercise?

    • Good question. If your baseline is around a gallon per day and you increase it slightly on your training days, that works.

  • Alan

    what up mike, nice article, i know this is going to sound kind of odd but can you make an article about dental health, i have a lot of cavities and its very weird, i dont drink soda or things like that, but my dentist told me that carbs where the ones causing damage to my tooth. I ask you because i take my weightlifting seriously and you know carbs are important for weightlifters. idk maybe you can name the article, do carbs cause cavities. anyways appreciate your time!

    • Thanks Alan!

      Hmm that would be a bit left field for me. If I were you I would Google around and see what I could find from reputable sites/sources like Harvard, Mayo, etc.

    • Lee

      Hey Alan, just a thought here. I have found a lot of variation from one dentist to the next in what they say. Like, one dentist said I had a cavity, I did not do anything about it, went to another dentist six months later and didn’t mention what the other dentist said, and he didn’t find any cavities. Not saying your dentist is unethical, but dentistry is a bit like auto mechanics. For about 15 years now I have had a small hole in the side of one of my molars. Every time I have gone to the dentist they act like it is the biggest emergency in the world and that tooth doom is imminent. Well, in 15 years nothing has happened to my tooth. The hole is there, it exists, and my failure to address it has not negatively impacted anything. They make money off your cavities, so I think some dentists are maybe a little too anxious to diagnose a cavity.

  • jesseali

    any thoughts on hydrogen water?

    • Fancy water is nonsense. You know I haven’t looked into filtering out radiation. Have you Googled around on it?

      • jesseali

        From master google:

        It looks like I need reverse osmosis AND carbon filtering to get out most the radiation…. OR: distilled water removes all the radiation in one go.

        There are lots of people saying that drinking distilled water is dangerous, but lots saying it is perfectly safe.

        Distilled water tests at 0 PPM with my TDS tester that I got from the link on this site.

        What is your take on distilled water?

        PS. I’m loving the “Bigger Leaner Stronger” book. I have had pretty nice results over the past 3 weeks of following it. Hope to be a success story soon 🙂

        • You know I haven’t looked into drinking distilled water. I’ve always heard it’s bad for you but that doesn’t mean anything.

          That’s awesome. Definitely keep me posted. 🙂

  • Tony Man King Hoong

    Hey Mike,

    After running water through an RO system would you say using Himalayan sea salt is better or using ionic ocean minerals, or trace minerals?

    • I don’t add anything personally. I get enough minerals in my diet.

  • John
    • Nothing. Consider this: What happens when water arrives in your stomach and mixes with stomach acid? Yup. It’ll all be acidic in the end.

  • Chris Robbins

    What about the ph level of water? Does that effect your body?

    • I have seen no reputable studies suggesting ph affects your body.

      • Chris Robbins

        So all the dispute between acidic water and alkaline water is broscience? Really only thing to worry about is filtering the contaminates out

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