Optimal Water Intake Challenge

How much water should you drink? The general rule is 8 x 8oz of water (64oz total). But that number is a rough number and based on some research I’ve done, that amount does not provide for optimal health. Optimal health includes keeping the most skin supple & youthful, strongest & most elastic muscles, greatest memory & brain function, ideal joint function, best digestion & bowel function, improved immune system and weight loss/maintenance. Sure, if you drink 64 ounces you get some assistance with items on that list, but I am talking about optimal function and benefits.8-Glasses-blog

As I age, I want to seek optimal health and to do so I will utilize all tools at my disposal since genetics, and geography are not controllable factors. With my research, I found several sites with calculators for determining water needs based on weight. I find this to be more accurate because 64 ounces of water is going to have different benefits for a 100lb woman vs a 200lb man. To determine your optimal water needs; take your body weight and multiply it by .67 (67%). The resulting number is total ounces necessary for optimal health. Since we lose water when exercising, experts suggest adding 12 ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise. This can be adjusted if you sweat more than most or workout in a hot climate. I keep repeating ‘optimal’ because this is a reminder that I am shooting for the best intake not daily minimums.

Based on this formula my numbers are as follows: 165lbs x.67 = 111 ounces of water. Plus 24 ounces for exercise/loss of water, bringing my grand total to 135 ounces of water per day.

I usually exercise for approximately 60 minutes per day (this fluctuates based on yoga vs runs vs boot camps and those days I more than 1 of those). But that is a safe number to play with. I am also not a heavy sweater.

135 ounces is a high number based on the general guideline of 64 ounces per day. Intimidatingly high number! I drink a lot of water, but don’t even come close to this ‘optimal health’ intake level? I decided to see where I stand, so I grabbed a Tervis Tumbler with the ounces measured on the container and started my personal challenge.

Day 1: I usually start my day with a couple cups of coffee so my actual water intake did not start until 8a. My tumbler holds 22 ounces of water and by 5pm I polished off 4 entire bottles. But that is only 88 ounces to my 135 needed for the day. I still needed to get a little more than 2 bottles down to get close. By 7p I had most my final bottle to go and did reached my 135oz prior to bed time. It was surprisingly easy to reach my levels but this is definitely more water than I typically consume in a day. My normal high volume provides me with frequent bathroom breaks, but this was more than usual. Further proving that I normally do not take in that much water.

Day 2: I decided to get a leg up on water intake and started with 22oz prior to my morning coffee. Yoga and a run put me at 90 min of exercise so my daily intake for optimal health is 147oz. Jeeze Louise, that’s a lot of water. By 10am I had 44oz down. I now know why they say you will lose weight drinking a higher level of water…you feel full all the time. By 6pm I started my 7th container so on my way to 154oz and off to teach yoga. Full, but taking in this volume is not a problem. Waiting for that ‘health bell’ to go off and magically feel sensational. Day 2 might be a little soon for that. Final total ounces consumed = 174oz.

Day 3: Again started with water to get the ball running. Was out of the house for several hours and only took 44oz with me. Was not enough to keep my hydrated and not being a fan buying plastic bottled water, I only made it to 110oz by 6pm. Morning workout was 45 min so with total intake and exercise my total goal for day was 129oz, so only 19oz to go to finish day successfully. Had to get up in the middle of the night to hit the little girls room. That is not normal for me.

Day 4: Another light workout day so total intake was 123oz. Was able to consistently keep water bottle close so had no problem surpassing that by bedtime. Friday night adult beverage did not take away from total water intake.

Day 5 & 6: Weekends can be days off workout wise, which was the case this weekend. Total goal for day is 111oz per day. Saturday made it to 111 oz. Sunday was out entire day and although I purchased bottled water (it pained me to do so) to reach my intake, only made it to 75 oz by the end of day. Oddly I was ill that night.

Day 7-14: My daily suggested intake ranged from 111oz to 154oz and I took in about 124oz on most days. Days I required the upper end of that range, I usually got close. I either hit it on the mark or got within 10oz of hitting it.

There were several very high volume days due to activity level. I looked up Hyponatremia, which is over hydration or water poisoning. It is more common with athletes and soldiers and based more on volume per hour vs just total intake. You cannot make up for low volume in a short amount of time. The general rule is 27-33oz in an hour put you in danger of Hyponatremia. Keep this in mind if you should decide to take on this challenge.

The changes I saw were primarily in my skin. Very little lotion went a long way into making it super soft and plump. My hair looked better too. Don’t know that I could identify improved organ function as I do not suffer any ailments in that area. Did not see any weight loss. I had hoped that would be one of my first benefits of increased water intake. I think that the weight loss portion of the benefits list is more of a long term item. It does fill you up so drinking before any meal will keep you from over eating. I need to work on taking water on the road. I have a Stanley water container that will keep water cold for a long time. I pack a regular tumbler then add in my Stanley container to get me out the door with 52oz for the road. For the record, I am a fan of flavored water. I infuse mine with fruit, veggies or herbs of choice. This challenge I had lemons in my water, but often I use cucumbers or mint for flavor.

I am happily taking in 124oz or more a day and will keep it up. I am very happy with the changes I see from this challenge. I now challenge you to see if you can increase your water intake.