Water is absolutely essential to good health and high performance. The human body is roughly 60 percent water, and water plays a crucial role in almost every important bodily process. Water transports nutrients and oxygen, supports proper muscle contraction, improves joint function and fights fatigue. Being even slightly dehydrated can cause decreases in reaction time, mood and focus. The negative effects of not drinking enough water are almost too many to count. And many people feel the effects each and every day.
A recent study found that more than 50% of American teens and children don't drink enough water, and 25% of them don't drink any water on a daily basis. Adults aren't faring much better. Forty-three percent of them drink fewer than four cups a day. The exact amount of water you need to drink daily depends on your age, gender, weight, climate and amount of physical activity; but no matter where you fit into those categories, there's a good chance you're not drinking enough water.
Imagine living in the constant haze of ill effects brought on by dehydration, only to have them suddenly disappear. It's not a fairy tale—all you need to do is drink more water. We know that drinking an adequate amount of water isn't easy for everyone—there's a reason so many Americans fall short on their daily consumption. That's why we've compiled a list of 11 tips and tricks to help you increase your water consumption and reap the immense benefits of living a well-hydrated life.
1. Set a Goal
If you aren't drinking enough water, it could simply be because you've never set your mind to drinking more water. Setting a daily goal for water consumption helps you stay on the right track and leaves you feeling accomplished when you hit your mark. Tweak your initial goal based on your current water intake. For example, if you currently drink no water on a daily basis, aim to drink at least four cups a day.
Write down your goal and keep it where you'll see it often—such as at your desk, in your locker or in a daily planner. For some people, simply setting a daily water goal is enough motivation to drink more water.
2. Buy a Quality Reusable Water Bottle
Simply stopping by the water fountain once a day probably won't put much of a dent in your overall water consumption. But if you buy a high-quality reusable water bottle and get in the habit of carrying it around with you, filling it at water fountains or water coolers throughout the day, then water will always be in reach. Just making water easily accessible means you're more likely to keep drinking.
A high-quality reusable water bottle can be durable, useful (many keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot) and even stylish. Companies like Nalgene and Camelback produce affordable, reusable bottles that can help you reach your hydration goals.
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3. Put Time-Based Goals on your Container
Ideally, you'd do this with a transparent or partially transparent container. Using a marker, add hash marks to the container along with corresponding times. If you don't wish to write on your bottle, use tape.
The hash marks will help you break your hydration goal down into smaller, more manageable segments throughout the day. For example, if you put a hashmark 3/4 of the way up the container marked "11 a.m." it will prompt you to drink 1/4 of the water in the container by 11 a.m. Once you hit that goal, set your sights on the next hash mark.
4. Add Water to your Morning Routine
Everyone has a morning routine. Some like to hit the shower, cook a big breakfast and sit down with the paper. Others like to sleep until the last possible moment, roll out of bed and grab a quick bite on the way out the door. Whatever your routine, find a spot to include a glass of water. You don't have to forgo coffee (it's not as dehydrating as you might think), but you should find a time each morning when downing a glass of water is easy for you. It doesn't necessarily have to come with breakfast. Drinking water when you first wake up or taking some with you in the car on the way to school or work are smart moves too.
Drinking water early in the day makes you more likely to drink it throughout the day. Many people find that the more water they drink, the thirstier they become. Starting your day off with a good base of hydration will help you feel sharp and focused throughout the morning and can help you reach your overall goal.
5. Drink More Water? There's an App for That
If you're like me, you're addicted to your smartphone. So why not use it to help you drink more water? An app called "Waterlogged" can help you reach your daily hydration goals through reminders, visual representations, graphs, stat tracking and more. It even syncs up to your Fitbit!
6. Drink Water before a Meal to Limit Calories
If you're looking to shed a few pounds, drinking water before a meal is a great way to significantly reduce the amount of calories you consume. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that people who drank water before meals consumed an average of 75 fewer calories.
The body has a tough time distinguishing between hunger and thirst, so if you go into a meal dehydrated, you may be apt to overeat. If you're trying to lose weight, knowing that water can help you cut calories is an enticing benefit.
7. Liven up your Water
One reason why someone might not drink enough water is that they simply don't enjoy it. To some, water seems boring and unappealing. For these people, adding a little flavor and fun to their H2O can go a long way. Almost any fruit can add flavor to water. Popular options include lemons, limes, oranges and melons; you're limited only by your imagination.
Add a piece of produce and notice the difference it makes. Pineapple chunks or berries can be a fun, flavorful change-up, and adding a splash of sparkling water can liven things up even further. Vegetables like mint leaves or sliced cucumber add flavor and make your water more refreshing.
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8. Water Isn't the Only Option
Though water is the most convenient and affordable fluid option, other beverages possess similar hydrating effects. Drinks that have been found to hydrate comparable to water include tea, coconut water and small to moderate amounts of coffee. They count towards your daily hydration total, and they don't typically possess the poor nutrition of drinks like soda. Drinking these beverages throughout the day can make reaching your hydration goal more enjoyable and more manageable.
RELATED: Why Every Athlete Should Drink Tea
9. Buy a Water Filter Pitcher
If the taste of tap water turns you off, think about investing into a water filter pitcher. They have built-in water filters that automatically cleanse tap water to produce crisper, cleaner tasting drinking water. You can also install a filter faucet system in your sink, but that can be prohibitively expensive. Water filter pitchers are affordable, many options coming in under $40. Buy one and keep it in your fridge to make clean, cold water a regular part of your daily routine.
10. Get Water with Fruits and Veggies
You might not suspect it, but most fruits and veggies are largely water. For example, broccoli is 91% water and oranges are 87% water. The water content of foods you eat can also be counted toward your daily water consumption goal—though you'll be hard-pressed to get enough water if you rely solely on food. But still, every little bit counts! Check out this table for a breakdown of the water content in your favorite fruits and vegetables.
11. Think of all the Money You'll Save
A lot of people get a rush from saving money. Those same people might be shocked at how much green they can save by drinking more water. Tap water is completely free. It's been estimated that the average American family spends $850 a year on soda alone. When you add in other bad beverage choices like energy drinks and high-sugar fruit juices, that number likely ends up over $1,000.
Try this: for one week, write down every beverage you consume. At the end of the week, calculate how much each beverage cost. Add it all up, then imagine saving that much money every week for the rest of your life. You'll be shocked at the financial impact of making water your primary beverage choice!
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