You've probably heard from lots of sources (including SparkPeople) that adults should drink eight (8-ounce) cups of water each day. But you might be surprised to know that there is no scientific evidence that supports this general advice. In fact, most experts aren't even sure exactly where that recommendation came from. One source of this myth might be a 1945 article from the National Research Council, part of the National Academy of Sciences, which noted that a "suitable allowance" of water for adults is 2.5 liters a day, although much of that already comes from water in the foods that you eat.
So why does SparkPeople emphasize water drinking? Here are a few reasons:
Some people worry that they could be drinking too much water. Water intoxication results when a dehydrated person drinks too much water without any accompanying electrolytes. You usually need to drink an excessively large volume of water in a very short period of time to be in danger of this, which is why it's not common. If you drink eight cups throughout the day, you should be fine.
So do you really need eight cups each day?
Like most recommendations, it varies. Everyone's needs are different and dependent on several factors, such as your weight, how much you exercise, how many water-rich foods you eat, the amount of muscle mass you have, the weather (such as heat and humidity) and more. But eight cups a day is still a good goal for the average person. The best way to find out how much water you need is to check the color of your urine. It should look like you squeezed a lemon in it. If it's much darker, try drinking a little more water.
If eight cups seems like a lot, consider how you could break it down throughout the day:
Upon rising: 1-2 cups
After breakfast: 1 cup
Between breakfast and lunch: 1 cup
After lunch: 1 cup
Between lunch and dinner (when you start to feel hungry for a snack): 1 cup
After dinner: 1-2 cups
When you divide it throughout the day, those eight cups don't seem so daunting!
Learn more about how much water you need:
Water is a Secret Ingredient
12 Tips to Drink 8 Cups a Day
Healthy Beverage Guidelines
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