How To Drink Water Correctly:My Habits Since The Last Decade

How to drink water correctly

I was a fat kid in my early teens. Around 13-14 years old, I decided to do something about it and started practising Yoga. Within 8-9 months- I’d shed almost 15 kilos following just these principles.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Daily routine of a yogic breathing exercise called pranayaam- 30 mins
  2. Ate clean and healthy- avoided certain foods like red meat, stocked up on boiled veggies, the works
  3. Started drinking more water and at the right times

#3 is what I’m here to expand on today. Drinking enough water and in the correct manner was imperative for me to lose weight.

And while I picked up a majority of these habits almost 10 years ago, a few of these I just started implementing while researching for this article.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to drink water correctly:

Sipping Vs Gulping Water- Does It Matter How Fast You Drink?

Absolutely it does.

You see, this is one of the bad habits I picked up over the years. Everytime I drank water, I gulped down almost half a bottle.

Initially, it was a way to force myself to drink more water because I knew I’d forget to drink water during the day- so I got into the habit of drinking a litre of water within a span of minutes.

Then I could go back to whatever I was doing and have my next drink several hours later, when I’d down another litre. Repeat this once more and I’d reach my quota for the day.

Here’s the problem with that- it’s useless.

Our kidneys are responsible for processing the waste material from our blood and forming urine, among other things. However, they cannot process more than a certain amount of water every day, and by gulping water down every now and then, we risk stressing out our kidneys.

So how much water should you drink per hour?

No more than 0.8- 1L. That is the general amount of water that a pair of healthy kidneys can process every hour.

If we drink more that, we put ourselves at risk for hyponatremia- a life threatening condition where the sodium levels in body plummet because of increased water content in the body.

Seriously, even I was shocked to find that people have died from over-hydration.

And yes, while you’d have to drink a lot of water to be even close to that stage, the point here is that when you drink a lot of water in a short period of time, you put undue stress on your kidneys.

Secondly, all that effort put into hydration goes to waste because the body cannot absorb so much water in so little time. It just passes the water out without absorbing most of it. A good indicator of this is if your urine is without color – crystal clear.

So bottom line- sip water slowly over time and don’t gulp it down.

How To Get Into The Habit Of Sipping Water

I’d never thought peeing a clear liquid was anything but normal for the longest time. I’ve been struggling with breaking an old habit of gulping water down all at once from the bottle. These days, even though I’ve been consciously trying to drink relatively small amounts at a time and not gulping water down, my urine still turns out to be a clear liquid.

So Frustrating.

Here’s what I’ve started to do now:

I keep a small paper cup on my desk at all times and pour water into it from my bottle. It’s about 200 mL which is perfect to drink at one time. Repeat this every 30 mins or so.

If you’re in an office environment all day, just grab a paper cup from the water cooler. You could also get a sipper bottle that allows you to sip small amounts.

How Often Should You Drink Water Throughout The Day and How Much?

The short answer is- it depends.

Here’s the long answer. All my research pointed towards these 5 metrics to help you decide.

  1. Weight
  2. Gender
  3. Activity level
  4. Climate
  5. Other health factors- such as pregnancy or if you’re breastfeeding these days

And while there are no scientific ways I could find to calculate the exact water intake you should have, here’s the bottom line, according to Institute of Medicine, an American Non Profit:

For people older than 19 years, recommended daily water intake for men is 3.7 L and for women- 2.7 L .

This includes indirect water consumption through meals as well- such as soups, milk, etc.

I tend to drink about 4 L a day, because I live in India(hot most of the year!) and I work out 4 times a week for 45 mins. So I need to rehydrate a tad more.

As for your weight, some articles online recommend drinking 2/3rds of your pound weight in oz. (If you weight 180 pounds, drink 120 oz. daily)

Others recommend drinking half your pound weight in oz.

Like I said, not an exact science. These recommendations are all just pointers for you, so treat them as broad guidelines to follow, rather than exact metrics. You now know the range of water intake that is healthy, try to be in that range and don’t worry too much about the exact numbers.

As for how often you should drink during the day- that’s up to you. As long as you don’t drink more than 0.8-1 L every hour, it’s up to you to decide how you want to break up your daily quota throughout the day.(I’ll share my water drinking routine in a bit, few paragraphs down the line)

Cold Water Vs Room Temperature- What’s The Best Temperature To Drink Water?

Short answer?

Room Temperature or warm water.

The reasons, are pretty basic.

Say, it’s a sunny, hot day and you drink a glass of cold water before lunch. Now, your body has to expend energy towards bringing the water to the core body temperature.

How is that a problem?

  • It tends to constrict blood vessels and coagulate(or harden) any fats we may have consumed. These hardened fats then may form deposits in our body
  • Due to blood vessels constricting, proper blood circulation to all organs gets hindered. If we drink cold water around meal times, it can mess with digestion.

‘Ayurveda’, an ancient Indian medicinal practice, tells us exactly the same things.

Ice cold water freezes the enzymes and fluids in your gut so your body can’t properly digest food, which creates toxic buildup or ama [aa-ma]. In addition, the blood vessels constrict so the toxic buildup gets stuck inside you instead of draining through your lymph (cleansing) system”

Tina Shah, Ayurveda Practitioner

Pre-industrialization, everywhere you went in India, you’d see people enjoying cool glasses of water out of earthen pots(matkas). These pots kept water cool throughout the day, around room temperature and even today, some people still prefer to do this than drink cold, refrigerated water.

Warm or hot water has it’s benefits as well:

  • Helps cleanse our body of toxins. Warm water allows toxic built up to flow out of our lymph system
  • Helps increase blood circulation and boosts metabolism because it raises the body temperature

Bottom line: Avoid cold water as much as you can(I know! I struggle with this too), and drink room temperature-lukewarm water mostly. Notice that I don’t recommend drinking hot water all the time as well, because it can tend to overheat our bodies.

Another important thing.

When should you not drink warm water?

After exercising. Your body temperature is already raised, so you should drink room temperature water to bring it back to normal.

Will You Burn Calories From Drinking Cold Water?

Yes, you will- because the body has to expend energy, as I talked about above. But the calorie burn is so minimal that it’s not even worth thinking of.

If you drink 8 glasses of cold water a day, you’ll burn a grand total of:

64 calories.

That’s it.

Cold water does have 1 benefit that I found online. That is, it gets absorbed by our intestines quicker. So we rehydrate quicker than we would by drinking normal water.

I still prefer room temperature water, because in the normal day to day, you usually don’t need that quick rehydration when you have your bottle of water next to you at all times.

Suggested Routine For Drinking Water

Here’s how I drink about 4 Litres of water everyday:

  • Wake up and drink 800 mL room temperature water (Or if I feel like it, somedays I’ll take two cups of warm water mixed with half a lemon and 1 teaspoon honey)
  • 1 L of water to be sipped over the next few hours(once I reach office) before lunch
  • Post lunch, 1 L of water to be sipped before I leave for the day(round 5.30 pm)
  • Once home, I may drink another cup or two of water(~400-500 mL)
  • I also drink milk twice a day and have yoghurt which covers up the rest of my daily quota

The only time of day I ingest a lot of water, about 800 mL at once, is when I wake up, as it helps flush out toxins and clear the stomach quickly.

If you find it hard to drink that much water, drink as much as you’re comfortable with. Have a cup or two of warm water with some lemon and honey. I find that to be equally effective.

Keep in mind that I drink slightly more than most because of the climate here and keeping my activity levels in mind. I didn’t lay my routine out for you to copy, rather modify and use according to your needs.

As long as you’re drinking water within the recommended range I cited above, you’ll be good to go.

But I Don’t Like The Taste! How To Make Tap Water Taste Better

Two common solutions:

Water Filter Pitcher:

In India, you don’t get tap water that’s pure enough to drink, so everyone has a water purifier at home. The advantage of that is that water tastes great as chlorine and other chemical additives are filtered out.

In a lot of countries though, people drink straight from the tap. I noticed this first when I travelled to the US. However, I also noticed that the water had a slightly odd taste because of the chlorine. While it was just noticeable for me, some people just can’t stand that taste.

If you’re one of those people, the first thing you might want to do is get a pitcher filter. I found a couple of really great ones online that are handy and can remove chlorine as well as other contaminants. You can check them out at Amazon.

Fruit Infusion:

But, even then, if you just don’t like the taste of plain old water- a water filter pitcher won’t be enough. If you’re one of those who can’t drink it because “it tastes like nothing!”, here’s what you can do:

Infuse some fruits into your water. You could add a dash of lemon to your water and make some lemonade or slice up some apples, peaches, pears – really, any sort of fruit you like- tie them up in a muslin cloth and dip them into a jar of water

After a few hours, you can remove the fruit and enjoy your tasty, fruit infused water.

Keep in mind though, that harder fruits like apples or pears take longer to release their juices. However, there are a lot of great recipes online for infusing fruit that you can follow.

And if this process sounds cumbersome, just get a fruit infuser bottle. It’s a neat little product that allows you to place your chopped fruit into a small container inside the bottle that keeps the fruit in place and allows for the juices to get infused at the same time. Check it out on Amazon

How To Increase Water Absorption – Few Tips To Hack Your Hydration

Our body needs minerals to aid the process of hydration. This is why people are advised to drink Gatorade or coconut water after a workout, because they provide water as well as restore the mineral balance in our systems – which rehydrates the body quicker than if they drank plain water.

In the normal day to day, this principle can be used just as well. A few things you can do to absorb water more are:

  • Add a squeeze of lemon to your water
  • Add a bit of grated ginger to your water
  • Add a tbsp of sea salt to your water

All of the above contain elements that bind with water molecules and aid the rehydration process.

Will You Have To Pee All The Time?

There’s no clear recommendation on how much water a person should drink in a day. Which is why there also is no guideline on how many times a person should pee daily.

From my experience- if you’ve just started drinking more water, you will have to make more frequent trips to the toilet. Don’t get scared though, because that’s the normal amount of times you should have to go. Unless you have to go every hour or so- that might mean you have an overactive bladder and you should get that checked out.

Conclusion:

Summing up, here’s the healthiest way to drink water, according to me:

  1. Sip, don’t gulp down water
  2. Drink 2-3 L everyday(ladies) and 3-4 L daily(men)
  3. Get a chlorine water filter if the chlorine taste stops your from drinking more water
  4. Get a fruit infuser bottle if you dislike the taste of plain water
  5. You can hydrate yourself better by adding some binding elements like sea salt to your water

Hope you enjoyed the article, and learnt something. Stay fresh and drink plenty my friends!

Until next time, please excuse me – I’ve sipped over a litre from my bottle in the last 5 hours while writing this. I really need to go now!

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