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Dehydration Myths

By Julie Fink
Posted On May 10, 2016
Dehydration Myths

With #waterchallenges buzzing across social media, I felt the need to stress the importance of hydration during the climax of beach-body-ready season. Hopefully, these myth busters will help clear up some confusion about your daily water intake.

Myth: You should drink eight glasses of water a day.
Truth: There are a lot of rules that people toggle with about the amount of water they should be drinking a day. The truth is, there are no formal guidelines on how much water people need each day. The amount is affected by what people eat, their weight, activity level, and even the environment in which they live.

The Institute of Medicine, which issues recommendations on the amounts of nutrients we need, states that an “adequate intake” of water is about 3.8 liters (128 ounces) for lactating women. That is about four big (33 ounces) water bottles a day or 1 gallon!

For those of us not breastfeeding…

General recommendations for women are approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water — from all beverages and foods — each day, and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water.

My personal rule of thumb that I got from watching Dr. Oz is taking your body weight and dividing it in half and use that number for the amount of ounces you should drink per day (Example: If you weigh 120 lbs., try to drink 60 ounces a day which would be 2 large water bottles or half of a gallon).

Myth: When you have clear pee, you are hydrated.
Truth: Clear urine is a bit excessive. “As long as it is a pale yellow, like lemonade, you’re hydrated,” says Susan Yeargin, Ph.D., assistant professor of athletic training at the University of South Carolina. If it’s completely clear, it just means you’re full to the brim; what’s going in is coming out. On the other hand, if your pee is the color of apple juice or darker, you need to drink up.

Myth: Caffeine dehydrates you.
Truth: Just because coffee makes you pee doesn’t mean it’s dehydrating your body. A report from Runners World suggest, “Recent research shows that caffeine doses between 250 and 300 milligrams—about two cups of coffee—will minimally increase urine output for about three hours after consuming it.”

Further to that, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) determined there was sufficient scientific evidence finding that caffeine-containing beverages do not increase 24-hour urine volume in healthy individuals compared to other beverages and that caffeinated beverages appear to contribute to the body’s daily total water intake.

Myth: When you are thirsty, you are dehydrated.
Truth: While that is partially true, being hungry is another huge sign that you are dehydrated. “Mild dehydration is often masked as feelings of hunger, when really your body just needs fluids,” says Alissa Rumsey, RD, spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The confusion happens in a part of the brain that regulates both appetite and thirst. When dehydration sets in, wires get crossed, leading you to grab a bag of chips when you really need a bottle of water.

Myth: Alcohol contributes to my water intake.
Truth: Lots of beverages and foods help to contribute to your daily water intake such as watermelon, oranges, grapefruit, cucumbers, celery, romaine lettuce, oatmeal, soups, smoothies, juice, Gatorade, milk, and EVEN soda. Alcohol is not one of them. Alcohol consumption is a mega dehydrator, and it interferes with the mechanism that regulates the water levels in our body. This is why you pee so much. Then you wake up the next day and chug water like you’ve just crossed the Sahara, it’s probably because you just peed yourself dry.

Remember, drinking water is the single most important thing for your body. Jennifer Lawrence even tattooed the chemical symbol for water on her hand as a daily reminder, “I’m always going to need to be hydrated. So I guess I should just get ‘H2O’ on my hand.”

Happy Hydrating!

Tag a friend who you want to do the #waterchallenge with ?

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ABC Science
Drinking Water Do’s and Don’t’s
The Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness
Runner’s World
The New York Times – Dehydration: Risks & Myths