June 21, 2023
Staying hydrated is a big factor in staying cool. But how does one stay hydrated anyway? Do you just drink water until you pass out? It's a bit more complicated (and safe) than that. Here's our guide on how to properly hydrate this summer!
Getting enough water every day is important for your health. Drinking water can prevent dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, result in mood change, cause your body to overheat, and lead to constipation and kidney stones. Water has no calories, so it can also help with managing body weight and reducing calorie intake when substituted for drinks with calories, such as sweet tea or regular soda.
Water helps your body:
- Keep a normal temperature.
- Lubricate and cushion joints.
- Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues.
- Get rid of waste through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.
Your body needs more water when you are:
- In hot climates.
- More physically active.
- Running a fever.
- Having diarrhea or vomiting.
Everyone should consume water from foods and beverages every day.
How much daily total water intake do you need? Check out the recommendations in our blog Part 5: What I can control. Factors that affect your risk of heat-related illness. There is also an excerpt below.
Thirst - Water Intake:
Since we generally have a little bit more control when it comes to the signal of thirst, let’s talk about the recommended amounts of water we need to drink. When we sweat to expel heat we lose significant amounts of water and electrolytes that need to be replenished for our organs to do their jobs.
The chart below shows the recommended amounts of water to drink based on the Wet Bulb Global Temperature and your activity level. WBGT is a very complicated temperature measurement that takes into account temperature, humidity, sun, and wind. For ease of use in everyday life, substitute the NWS Heat Index + Sun Exposure from the previous blog Part 4: Environmental Factors of Heat-Related Illness, for the WBGT in the chart below.
Table 8-1 Recommendations for Fluid Replacement During Warm Weather Conditions Easy Work Moderate Work Hard Work WBGT
(qt. per hour)
(qt. per hour)
(qt. per hour)
78-81.9 Unlimited 0.5 Unlimited 0.75 40 work / 20 rest 0.75 82-84.9 Unlimited 0.5 50 work / 10 rest 0.75 30 work / 30 rest 1.0 85-87.9 Unlimited 0.75 40 work / 20 rest 0.75 30 work / 30 rest 1.0 88-89.9 Unlimited 0.75 30 work / 30 rest 0.75 20 work / 40 rest 1.0 90+ 50 work / 10 rest 1.0 20 work / 30 rest 1.0 10 work / 50 rest 1.0
* Fluid needs can vary on the basis of individual differences (+- 0.25 qt. per hour) and exposure to full sun or full shade. Fluid intake should not exceed 1.5 qt. per hour daily fluid intake generally should not exceed 12 qts. This is not to suggest limiting fluid intake by highly conditioned persons, who may require greater than 12 qts. daily.
Note: Rest = sitting or standing in the shade if possible. Adapted from DOD .
For example - A warm day in Rochester, NY on the NWS Heat Index comes out to 95F. Imagine a gardener out in the sun tending their garden, they need to add 10F degrees. It’s already above the 90+F WBGT. Based on this chart and 105+F they need to be consuming 1 qt of water/hour. We don’t know about you, but we don't measure every glass of water we drink but there are estimates we can use. Generally, the glasses you have around your house are pint glasses or slightly smaller. Since 2 pts = 1 qt., you need to drink approximately two glasses of water every hour to maintain a safe hydration level.
You will notice that this chart stops at one qt/hr, as consuming too much water can leave your body without other vital nutrients. Drinking water or Gatorade alone will NOT prevent heat-related illness. There comes a time when you just need to STOP and rest. This brings us to our next two factors.
Daily total water intake (fluid) is defined as the amount of water consumed from foods, plain drinking water, and other beverages. Daily water intake recommendations vary by age, sex, pregnancy status, and breastfeeding status. Most of your fluid needs are met through the water and other beverages you drink. You can get some fluids through the foods that you eat—especially foods with high water content, such as many fruits and vegetables. Drinking water is one good way of getting fluids as it has zero calories.
- Carry a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day.
- Freeze some freezer-safe water bottles. Take one with you for ice-cold water all day long.
- Choose water over sugary drinks.
- Opt for water when eating out. You’ll save money and reduce calories.
- Serve water during meals.
- Add a wedge of lime or lemon to your water. This can help improve the taste.
- Make sure your kids are getting enough water too.
Of course, there are many other beverage options besides water, and many of these can be part of a healthy diet.
Low or no-calorie beverages
Plain coffee or teas, sparkling water, seltzers, and flavored waters, are low-calorie choices that can be part of a healthy diet.
Drinks with calories and important nutrients
Low-fat or fat-free milk; unsweetened, fortified milk alternatives; or 100% fruit or vegetable juice contains important nutrients such as calcium, potassium, or vitamin D. These drinks should be enjoyed within recommended calorie limits.
note: The average person should drink water to rehydrate.
Sugary drinks: Regular sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened waters, and sweetened coffee and tea beverages, contain calories but little nutritional value.
Alcoholic drinks: If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
Caffeinated drinks: Moderate caffeine consumption (up to 400 mg per day) can be a part of a healthy diet. That’s up to about 3 to 5 cups of plain coffee.
Drinks with sugar alternatives: Drinks that are labeled “sugar-free” or “diet” likely contain high-intensity sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame, or saccharine. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “replacing added sugars with high-intensity sweeteners may reduce calorie intake in the short-term…yet questions remain about their effectiveness as a long-term weight management strategy.”
Sports drinks: These are flavored beverages that often contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes, and sometimes vitamins. The average person should drink water, not sports drinks, to rehydrate.
This blog is a part of our Summer Bucket List Blog Series.
Check out the entire series to see all the cool adventures you can have this summer.