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Hydration is key but how much water do we really need?

Hydration is key but how much water do we really need?

Are you fed up with conflicting reports on how much water we should be drinking each day? So are we. So we’ve decided to put down our sports drinks and get to the bottom of the water debate.

How much should we officially be drinking?

The NHS has recommended amounts on their website: The European Food Safety Authority recommends that women should drink about 1.6 litres of fluid and men should drink about 2.0 litres of fluid per day. That's about eight glasses of 200ml each for a woman, and 10 glasses of 200ml each for a man. 

An easy to remember rule is to drink around 1.5 to 2 litres a day, which is the size of a large bottle of fizzy drink. However, these amounts will vary depending on several factors:

  • Activity.  When exercising or doing physically demanding work the body loses water at a much faster rate than usual. Water is used to regulate body temperature, transport oxygen and dispose of waste so it’s critical that the body doesn’t become dehydrated. Aim for an extra 400 to 600 mls of water for short exercise sessions.
  • Intense exercise. Increase water intake accordingly for longer sessions and how much you sweat. Water is generally the best way to replace lost fluids. However, if you’re working out for more than an hour then a sports drink may help to replace lost electrolytes to avoid cramps. 
  • Environment. The hotter it is the more water you will need to drink.
  • Pregnancy. Breastfeeding and pregnant women need more water to stay hydrated. Around 2.3 litres a day is recommended.

How do I know if I’m drinking enough water?

You will know you’re drinking enough water if your urine is a pale yellow colour and rarely feel thirsty. If you’re still not sure, try this hydration calculator from Camelbak. 

Do I need to limit my caffeine intake?

Some people find caffeinated drinks make their body produce more urine. However, recent research suggests tea and coffee do not dehydrate us, and is actually very beneficial.

Also caffeine has been shown to improve athletic performance, so enjoy that hot cuppa!

I hate water. How else can I hydrate my body?

Plain water is the best, but not the only option. If you really don’t like the taste, try adding some squeezed lemon or lime, or buying sparkling water. You could also add a little fruit juice or squash, and milk can also count towards the total.

We can also up our fluid intake by eating high water content foods such as: 

  • Soup
  • Fruit – strawberries, melons, apples, oranges
  • Vegetables – cucumbers, salad greens, butternut squash
  • Yoghurt
  • Coconut water
  • Cooked porridge

Want to perform your best? Stay hydrated!

the author

Kath Webb

Kath is a contributing writer for Hussle. Football, running, weight training, yoga and walking are her forte, along with cooking tasty, nutritious food - with a regular batch of cake chucked in.