Many people today are chronically dehydrated, and it’s for the simple reason that they aren’t drinking enough. Water is essential for good health and isn’t just helpful: it’s necessary for all the things your cells and your body do every day. Somewhere between 60% and 80% of the human body is water, so you must be vigilant about hydrating often to keep your brain and your body working at their best.
Is one glass of water really enough?
How much do you personally need to drink to stay healthy? While we’ll tackle this question below (so keep reading!), it’s important to know that one glass is not enough – with one caveat. If you have one glass…and several glasses of electrolyte drink mix, and other hydrating foods and beverages, then one glass of plain water might be enough. Since that describes virtually no one, you can rest assured knowing that one glass per day is not enough to stay hydrated and healthy.
Can foods help me stay hydrated if I don’t drink enough?
You probably already know that drinking keeps you hydrated, but certain foods can also help you stay hydrated too. Cucumbers, watermelon, bell peppers, and tomatoes are examples of high-water-content foods. Virtually all fruits and vegetables contain fluids packaged with micronutrients like vitamins and electrolyte minerals, so if you have a healthy diet that includes these foods, you’re off to a good start.
Having said that, many of us aren't drinking nearly enough each day—and may even be drinking things that could dehydrate us, such as sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol.
Only drinking one glass per day? Here’s 10 things you can expect to feel when you only drink one glass of water a day.
1. Lack of Energy
Dehydration is one of the leading culprits in feeling fatigued because fluids help keep your mind alert and your body balanced. If you drink too little during the day, the afternoon slump will hit you even harder, and you may be too tired to continue working or go to your evening workout. Keep a water bottle nearby to remind you to drink regularly throughout the day.
2. Mental Slowness
Your brain requires hydration because it is roughly 73% water, and drinking enough keeps you mentally sharp over time. Dehydration has a negative impact on working memory. Working memory allows us to temporarily recall information so that we can continue working without losing track of what we were doing. If you're feeling foggy and disoriented, drink some water and see if it helps. Bonus: for faster mental energy, grab a hydrating electrolyte drink like Key Nutrients Electrolyte Recovery Plus. Electrolytes help hydrate cells faster, so you can get back on top of your game.
3. Increased Stroke Risk
According to a 2020 study published in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, dehydration can increase the risk of strokes and lengthen recovery time if you've already had one. Pay attention to how much you drink to keep your cardiovascular system in top shape. If your urine is darker than light yellow or you are feeling dizzy, drink something hydrating right away, and if you feel ill, consult your healthcare provider.
Dehydration can make you irritable and decrease your motivation. Even 1% dehydration increases emotions like anger, hostility, confusion, depression, and tension, and 1% is a very small amount of water. Because you’re feeling grouchy and don’t have energy, you’re much less likely to tackle your tasks for the day at work and at home. So, the next time you're feeling down or irritable, grab a glass of water and take some time to just breathe and hydrate.
5. Excessive eating
We often confuse thirst with hunger, so drink up and see if it helps you distinguish what your body truly requires. If you're still hungry after the beverage wears off, eat something! But you might be surprised by how often your body wants hydration more than it wants food. It's critical to pay attention to your body's cues and provide it with what it requires.
6. Slower Metabolic Rate
Water is required for every single function in the body, so when you're dehydrated, your metabolism naturally slows down—and your energy levels follow suit. Staying hydrated can provide your body with the nutrients it requires to function properly, allowing you to feel your best. Metabolism controls your feeling of energy, but also how well all your cells function, including how well they can burn sugar from your bloodstream and fat already stored in your tissues, so great hydration can help you with your fitness goals.
Because your brain requires water, a lack of hydration can cause headaches including migraines. So, before taking pain relievers, drink some water with electrolytes and rest for a bit. That headache might go away without you having to do anything else.
8. Skin Damage
Hydration is essential for our skin's health and appearance. According to a 2019 review in Nutrients, those who drank the most water reported healthier, softer, more supple skin. Inadequate drinking can hasten the aging process. Collagen can crack due to poor fluid intake, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles. That is why, in addition to drinking plenty of water, people need moisturizing and hydrating products in their skin-care regimen to achieve a soft, supple appearance.
9. Lighter Workouts
Sweating causes electrolytes and water loss, so it's critical to drink before, during, and after working out to replenish lost stores. According to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics, dehydration can reduce strength, endurance, and power—and thus performance. It is critical to stay hydrated prior to working out and to keep hydrated during and after exercise.
10. Weight Gain
A little weight gain is nothing to be concerned about since our bodies naturally gain and lose every day. However, if it persists over time or is concentrated in the abdomen, it can increase your risk of developing a variety of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and others. Better hydration may help you lose weight, especially if you replace it with sugary beverages or other higher-calorie drinks. Fluids put pressure on your stomach, so it can decrease snacking between meals and help you feel full—but don't use it as a meal replacement.
Water makes up up to 60% of the average adult human body, making appropriate hydration necessary for proper function. But how much do you truly require in a day? For years, we've been urged to drink at least eight glasses per day, but that advice isn't valid for everyone.
How Much Water Do I Need to Drink Every Day?
Hydration is crucial to good health, and not getting enough fluids daily has serious consequences. Dehydration occurs when you are taking in less water than you extrete, whether that’s from bathroom breaks, sweat, or breathing. The National Academies' Institute of Medicine advises 2.7 liters (or 91 ounces or 11 cups) per day for adult women and 3.7 liters (or 125 ounces or 15 cups) for men.
Remember that your hydration sources include water, electrolyte drinks, and water from the foods you eat, so consider fruits and vegetables in your water calculation. Tea, coffee, and other drinks count as well, but sugar-sweetened drinks and alcohol don’t count, as they require additional water to metabolize.
Why Is There a Daily Water Recommendation?
"The body utilizes and loses water on a daily basis, so it's critical to replace water throughout the day," explains Sherri Hoyt, a registered dietitian nutritionist and outpatient nutrition counselor at Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri. "Water is lost via natural body activities like urination, bowel movements, sweating, and even breathing. Try to hydrate consistently throughout the day rather than all at once or at the end of the day."
Water is required for many bodily processes to function properly and may even help you feel better, stronger, and more energetic. If you don't like plain water, try infusing it with flavoring agents such as cucumber, mint, citrus fruit, or berries. Better yet, keep your favorite flavors of Electrolyte Recovery Plus on hand so your drinks never get boring and you’re always hydrated.