It’s not breaking news that medical professionals suggest drinking at least eight glasses of water a day in order to stay properly hydrated. It’s probably even less of a shock that the majority of adults don’t hit this number, or for that matter get anywhere near it…
Eight glasses can seem like a lot to consume – and we don’t recommend you do it all at once, but it’s true that our bodies simply do not function properly without adequate water supplies. Think of your office computer; without optimizing, system updates and keeping up on required maintenance you will start to have issues – things begin to freeze, programs slow or fail and simply not work as they should.
So yes, drinking water is paramount – we all agree on that, but did you know that drinking water at different times of the day will help you optimize how much good all of that hydration does for you? Research shows that your body can actually absorb more of the water’s health benefits and improve your internal processes by drinking it at specific times throughout the day. Common problems such as stomach pain, IBS, bloating, fatigue, overeating, high blood pressure, and constipation are all issues that can be at least mitigated all by drinking more water at the right times. What about the quality of that water and its impact on your body? In this blog, we’ll dive in and take a deeper look at how to get the ‘biggest bang for your cup’ (of water).
Below are some of the best times to consume a glass (or two) of water…
First Thing in the Morning
The first thing you do after opening your eyes should be to enjoy a nice glass of water (or two).
Drinking water first thing on an empty stomach does several things but most importantly it helps in activating our sleepy, dormant internal organs and gets the body ready to function, effectively helping to flush our systems overnight and giving us the jump start we need (who really needs coffee anyways…oh, that’s right me, I do). In Japan, it’s actually considered an ancient ritual to drink two semi-warm glasses of water immediately upon waking and has been attributed to the health, beauty, and longevity of its people.
Another tip here is if possible, try to avoid eating anything until about 30 minutes after those first two glasses of water. Your body is working to clean itself out and fill cells with new oxygen. Eating during this process can slow or stall this.
Before a Meal
Again, to our last point – drinking water 30 minutes before a meal gives your body time to process and distribute hydrogen and oxygen to where it’s needed.
Giving your body this optimal amount of time allows it to finish one process before starting the next, creating the perfect digestion environment for the delicious Burger/Sushi/Ceviche/Ice Cream you are about to imbibe. Drinking water before your meal also helps keep your caloric balance in check – preparing your gut for the incoming yumminess and helping to prevent you from overeating by feeling slightly more full, since the water actually lines your stomach.
Another tip that nobody wants to actually admit to until they do it…
Feeling hungry? Getting ‘Hangry’? Pour yourself a tall glass of water first to see if it’s true hunger, or simply dehydration. Still hungry 20 minutes later? Go get a sandwich (and do it quickly, nobody likes ‘hangry’).
“You make bathtime, slightly less stressful!”
To the tune of Rubber Ducky, if that was an awful joke (it was), then I’m sorry…
A glass of water before a bath or shower can actually help to lower blood pressure. Another added bonus is that drinking water dilutes sodium levels in the body, which even further aids in the lowering of blood pressure.
Skip the Milk
Switch to a glass of water in lieu of milk before bed (do people still drink milk before bed?). Going to bed fully hydrated can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke since dehydration elevates the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Heart attacks occur most commonly in the morning because the blood is thicker due to a loss of water throughout the night.
Another tip, uh…we feel like we shouldn’t have to tell you this but you may want to use the restroom if the last thing you do before you close your eyes is to drink a glass of water.
Another tip: Open your eyes back up on the way to the bathroom.
So, let’s do some simple math. If we’re having two glasses of water as we start our day, 1 glass before lunch and dinner, and one before bed – that’s 5 glasses of water a day without even thinking about it. From there, you should have no problem peppering in those last 3 glasses. First thing when you get to work, last thing before you leave? Sip a glass of water with dinner instead of juice/milk/soda? You’re at 8. Congrats! You did it! Your body and brain will thank you immensely for your commitment and now you’re on your way to a happy, healthy and hydrated body that can work at peak levels consistently.
Now, there are a couple of instances where maybe we should pull back the reins (rains? Water joke) on the water consumption…
During a Workout
Keeping hydrated while working out is a great idea, but there’s a balance. Drinking too much water during a workout could deplete your body of its natural and consumed electrolytes, which could result in a tired, sluggish feeling (how I feel during almost all of my workouts, but not because I drank too much water).
Sip while you eat
I may have made a recommendation to pass up the soda or juice with dinner, but that doesn’t mean chug two or three glasses of water. Sipping while you eat will allow you to have a checks-and-balances system with your meal, slowing you down and giving your body time to give you signals as to whether it’s still hungry or full. Drinking mass quantities of water during a meal also dilutes your stomach acid, making it harder to break down and absorb nutrients.
A glass of water 30 minutes before, a glass to sip with dinner and a glass 30 minutes after will create the best environment for your gut to work.
We’re hoping this quick guide will help you in your quest for 8 a day. Putting these practices in place will help your body perform as it should.
Wishing you a happy, healthy and hydrated summer!