What do you drink when you get thirsty? In most college dining halls and snack bars, you’re faced with an astounding selection of sodas, juices, and the like. And a lot of them are spiked with caffeine and taste nice and sweet.
Then there’s water. It contains no legal stimulants, and doesn’t come in funky flavors. It seems kinda boring. But when it comes to liquid consumption, water’s the best thing for you.
In fact, water is necessary for survival. “[The human] body is composed of 50 to 60% water, and you need to keep the body’s water balance at that level,” says Jean Bigaouette, a nutritionist in Albany, NY. Every day the body loses water through sweating and breathing, and you need to replace it. By the time you get thirsty, you’re body is crying for more water.
Everybody should aim to take in 64 ounces of fluids each day (that’s eight cups). It’s not as hard as it sounds.
“Have two glasses at each meal and one in between,” Bigaouette suggests. Or try carrying a bottle of water with you at all times, and take a gulp whenever the urge strikes. It’s easy to go through several 16 or 20-ounce bottles in a day.
Whatever your sipping strategy, “spread [water consumption] out over a day, don’t just guzzle it all at once,” Bigaouette says. Your body needs constant water replenishment, and having all 64 ounces in one sitting won’t do much good — and you’ll have to pee pretty bad.
If you need a little inspiration to get all that water into your system, consider everything water does for you.
Advantages of drinking water
It transports nutrients throughout the body, helps with the removal of wastes, and aids in digestion. The body’s metabolic reactions need water to take place. For the chemical reactions to occur, water must be present, and these reactions help in the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins.
Besides helping with cellular reactions, water can boost metabolism and even help people fight off the munchies. Next time you’re tempted by that brownie, try drinking some water instead. It temporarily fills up the stomach, so feelings of hunger can go away.
Water also helps to regulate body temperature. When a person sweats, water on the skin evaporates and cools down the body. Because so much water is lost during exercise, it’s a good idea to have a constant supply of water available when you hit the gym.
Vance Forte, a nutritionist and personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in Guilderland, NY, suggests that while exercising it’s a good idea to take a water break every 15 minutes, even if you’re not thirsty. This replenishment of fluids helps prevent dehydration and fainting.
And though water has no caffeine, it can give you a burst of energy. That sluggish feeling everyone gets from time to time is often caused by dehydration. Chugging water could perk you right up.
Some headaches stem from a lack of water, too — so take plenty of water with your Excedrin. Water is also one of the best hangover-soothers. Indulge freely before bed if you’ve been drinking. If you have to get up to pee during the night, drink more while you’re up.
If plain water doesn’t turn you on, there are other ways to get your daily fix. Forte suggests iced tea or lemonade, because although the water is mixed with other ingredients, it still helps the body. Remember that additives to water can hinder its absorption, so you need to drink a little more of your chosen water alternative.
Water can also come from some unexpected areas in a person’s diet. For example, lettuce and celery are composed of 90% water, and even solid foods can be 33% water. But try to thrown down a few glasses of plain old water every day.
It really does a body good.
There’s no need to blow all your cash on fancy bottled water. Instead, wet your whistle with:
Tap water. If the tap water near you tastes okay, go ahead and drink it; it should be safe. Tap water is regulated just as strictly — if not more so — than bottled water.
Filtered water. Instead of paying a few dollars for every 12 ounces of water you consume, make a one-time investment of $20 to $30 and get yourself a water filter. Filters can improve the taste of water and remove some contaminants.
Generic or store-brand bottled water. Cheaper than designer bottled water, generic bottled water is under the same regulations (the FDA requires that companies which sell bottled water must test their products each year to make sure they are free of, or contain only trace amounts of, certain contaminants) and is a good alternative if the stuff from your tap tastes funky.
Alex Smith drinks like a fish. Water, that is.