The Research-Backed Benefits of Proper Hydration—And How to Make Sure You’re Drinking Enough Water

by | Mar 12, 2024 | Nutrition

Want to hit your fitness goals, sidestep serious illnesses or control your stress levels? Pour yourself a drink. Consuming the appropriate amount of H2O every day is one of the best steps you can take for your long-term health and well-being. However, it’s estimated that nearly 80% of people aren’t downing enough water. And that’s a big problem.

Dehydration can lead to some serious headaches (both literally and figuratively). Common issues include kidney stones, urinary infections, constipation, dull skin and even weight gain. According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, dehydration can also spike your risk of suffering a stroke. And this list of potential problems I just the tip of the iceberg… yep, falling short on your water intake may even lead to mood swings.

Fill your glass, we’re taking a deep dive into the benefits of drinking more water and how to make sure you’re getting enough of the good stuff.

How Can I Make Sure I’m Drinking Enough Water?

The general consensus is that you should aim to drink around 3.7 litres of water every day. However, that amount can vary especially on days when you exercise. Additionally, you’ll want to sip on water gradually throughout your waking hours as frontloading your hydration in an attempt to hit your intake targets as soon as possible will just result in more trips to the toilet.

READ MORE: Here’s How Drinking Water Can Help You Burn 490 More Calories

While water is probably your best choice when it comes to hydration, it’s not your only option. Anything from juices to your morning cuppa can help you get closer to the flood line. (It’s a myth that caffeinated drinks will cause you to get dehydrated because they make you urinate more frequently.)

But how can you tell if you’re getting adequate hydration? Check your stream. If your urine is the colour of a strong lager, you probably need to up your water consumption. Ultimately, you’re aiming for a pale straw-colour. If you’re still confused, consult the chart below:

chart to assess hydration levels in urine

If you’re falling short on your waterworks, follow a few of these tips to ramp up your consumption.

1. Start Your Day with a Sip

Throughout the night, your body is losing fluids but doesn’t take any in. As such, sipping on a glass of H2O should be one of your top priorities after waking up. Marni Sumbal, author of Essential Sports Nutrition, told Men’s Health that you should aim to drink around 460ml to 600ml in those early hours.

2. Wash Down Meals with Water

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a snack, make sure you’ve got a glass of water on the side. Making a habit of downing this liquid gold with every meal will trivialise hitting your hydration targets.

READ MORE: Can Drinking Lemon Water Help with Weight Loss?

3. Track (And Schedule) Your Drinks

Apps like Waterllama let you keep tabs on every glass downed, set reminders for when to take a sip and categorise every type of liquid you’ve consumed during the day. The app also lets you tackle daily challenges designed to help break unhealthy habits like lowering your alcohol or caffeine intake.

4. Invest in a Sip-Easy Bottle

If you keep forgetting to knock back the appropriate amount of H2O, grabbing a high-quality container for your liquids can be a game-changer. You’re aiming for something that can carry plenty of volume and—if you prefer ice-cold sips—is insulated to keep your water at your preferred temps. These are three of our faves:

What are the Health Benefits of Drinking More Water?

Now that you’re drinking the appropriate amount and keeping yourself hydrated, you may be wondering where these new waterworks might lead. Lets look at a few of the perks you can expect from drinking more H2O:

1. Feel Calmer

Research has found that even relatively minor levels of dehydration can lead to tension, anger, depression or even confusion. So if you’re feeling moody, you might be able to hit the brakes on the bad vibes with a quick sip. 

2. Halt the Headaches

Plenty of studies have linked dehydration to those dreaded headaches. Fortunately, knocking back a glass of the good stuff is a quick remedy that can put a stop to most of these noggin nuisances.

3. Protect Your Joints

Beyond quenching your thirst and regulating your body’s temps, water also plays a crucial role in maintaining moisture levels within your body’s tissues. Staying adequately hydrated will not only make sure that your eyes, nose and mouth don’t dry out, but will keep will do the same for your bones, brain and blood, too. Plus, water can help lubricate and cushion your joints for some easy flexing.

4. Fire Up Your Metabolism

man refilling bottle from tap to get enough water

A splash of cold water can seriously rev up your fat-burning engine. One study found that participants who downed a 500ml glass of H2O burned 2 to 3 percent more calories than usual over 90 minutes after finishing their drink.

READ MORE: Dead Simple Healthy Eating Habits to Help You Lose Weight & Feel Better Right Now

5. Shave Off Kilos

Want to trim down your portions? Knock back a glass of water before every meal. Studies have found that a hydrating starter can help curb your appetite, helping participants shed an additional 44% more weight compared to those who skipped these satiating sips.

6. Energise Your Workouts

Even a relatively minor degree of dehydration (think around 2%) can have a major impact on your energy levels, muscle function and motivation. That’s why it’s crucial that you up your liquid intake (and keep your tanked topped) throughout your sessions—especially when tackling longer slogs. Keep the same in mind for hotter days.

7. Prevent Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are caused by mineral build-up in these organs, and they’re painful to pass with larger boulders requiring procedures to remove. While there’s limited evidence to suggest that water intake can safeguard you against this quarry of problems, it’s possible that upping your consumption could help dilute the concentration of these minerals. 

8. Expedite Digestion

Getting enough water can help your body break down the food that you eat. It’s also a necessary ingredient to help digest soluble fibre. Bonus: water and fibre work in tandem to slow down digestion to help you feel fuller for longer after your feast.

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