Water is essential to our health and bodily well-being. And yet it’s not uncommon for us as busy, too often burned-out individuals to feel as if we're not drinking enough of it.
“Everything in your body depends on optimal hydration, from organ function to hormone balance,” explains Los Angeles–based nutritionist Kimberly Snyder. “When you're hydrated, your joints are lubricated, your skin is being nourished, and your hair follicles are able to grow in healthfully.” And when you’re not? Not only will skin be less lustrous and hair more brittle, but energy lags, detoxification slows down, and digestion is delayed. “As matter starts to build and accumulate in your system, it weighs you down—you feel heavier and less energized!”
From fatigue and poor brain function to weakened digestion, mild dehydration can cause a multitude of problems in the body, and drinking plenty of water, as well as tweaking your diet, can go a long way for a healthier day-to-day. Here, Snyder reveals how she ensures her celebrity clients (Reese Witherspoon! Drew Barrymore! Kerry Washington!) stay hydrated.
Individualize Your Intake
Eight glasses of water has long been considered the essential amount of water to drink to stay hydrated. But according to Snyder, it's actually contingent on each individual body’s needs and activity level, as well as factors such as the temperature outside (the more you sweat, the more water you lose). As a general rule of thumb, Snyder says that women need around 1.7 liters of water daily, while men need around 3.7 liters. But if you want a more bespoke quota: "Drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh every day," says Snyder. "For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, that would translate to be 70 to 140 ounces of water a day." (140 ounces is closer to 17 glasses.)
Drink at Room Temperature
“I always tell my clients how important it is to drink room-temperature water," says Snyder, who emphasizes that it’s more hydrating than cold water, as your body has to spend more energy to bring cold water to a temperature it can absorb, which results in water loss. Furthermore, icy water can cause the blood vessels in your stomach to shrink slightly, hindering the digestion process and thus slowing hydration.
Hydrate First Thing in the Morning
Starting the day by replenishing fluids is the key to daily hydration, Snyder says. “We often get dehydrated overnight,” she explains. “Hydrating in the morning will give you more energy and set you up for a day of success.” And if you want to take it to the next level, begin with a cup of hot water with a squeeze of liver-supporting lemon. “It’s filled with vitamin C and helps support your cleansing process,” Snyder says.
Drink Between Meals Instead of During
In the U.S., we’ve grown accustomed to eating meals alongside tall glasses of water, but it's actually the worst time to chug. “Too much liquid with meals dilutes your digestive juices and can delay dehydration,” says Snyder. Instead, drink significant quantities of water between meals and throughout the day—holding off at least a half an hour before your meals, and an hour following meals. And to ensure that you’re on course throughout the day, keep tabs by monitoring the color of your urine (the clearer the better, says Snyder), or with an app such as Waterlogged or Gulp, each of which offers features that help you track intake and set goals, as well as remind you to keep drinking.
Eat Water-Rich Foods
“Obviously water is the first and most obvious source of hydration, but there are some great vegetables you can eat that will help keep you hydrated,” Snyder says. Her number one favorite is cucumber, which is high in enzyme-charged water, B vitamins, nutrients, electrolytes, and silica. Another is celery, which is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep the body refreshed and skin glowing, she says. She recommends adding both to her cult-favorite Glowing Green Smoothie and drinking it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. That way, “the body can absorb all the benefits first thing,” she explains.
Compensate for Caffeine and Alcohol
Both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which means that that while you drink them, you’ll urinate more and lose more fluid. To ensure you stay hydrated, compensate with additional liquids. “If you opt to have a glass of one or the other, follow it with another full glass of water to work towards balancing yourself back out,” she instructs.
Carry a Water Bottle
When it comes to consistent hydration, there’s no more foolproof strategy than a reusable water bottle. “It helps remind you to drink water while you are out and about for the day,” Snyder says. Or start the day with a big jug of filtered water with your goal water intake, and fill all your water bottles from it to monitor your progress throughout the day. “I’m all for visual and physical cues like water bottles you see that remind you to drink up,” says Snyder.
Drink Coconut Water
“For centuries, people in Southeast Asian and Pacific Island countries have been drinking the water from young coconuts for hydration,” Snyder explains. “It’s one of the best ways to replace the water and electrolytes the body gives off in hot climates.” So after a long day in the sun (or the morning after a long night out), try supplementing your water intake with the popular island thirst quencher.