What colour was your urine the last time you visited the bathroom? It seems like an invasive question to start the latest addition to the blog, but you should know that this a pretty standard indicator of hydration. Use the chart below as a reference, left being very hydrated of course and right being extremely dehydrated.
Drinking water has become more than fashionable over the last decade, yet that doesn't mean that everyone is finding it easier to drink enough and stay hydrated. The average person in the UK drinks 1.7L per day, some way short of the 2.5L minimum recommended for male adults and the 2.0L recommended for women.
It can be difficult to integrate drinking water as a habit into your busy daily routine and that's why we've put together this list of 10 steps you can take to drink enough water and stay hydrated on autopilot.
1. Set a Goal
Have you ever heard of the saying 'what gets measured gets done'? Well, it's about time you set yourself a daily water goal. This will be specific to your own routine and levels of output. You can adapt it to meet your own needs related to how long do you exercise everyday, how physically demanding is your daily routine, and how important mental focus is for you. All of these things are totally dependent on optimal hydration.
Take 5 minutes and think about how much water you need to drink to stay perfectly hydrated. Even use your urine as an ongoing indicator of how much you really need. For example, if it's a pale straw colour at 2pm and you've drank 1.5L then make 1.5L your minimum target by 2pm everyday.
You can't meet goals that you haven't set!
2. Get a Reusable Bottle
Welcome to Drink More Water 101! This is one of the most imperative steps to making hydration an everyday habit. It won't take you long to find yourself in waterless situation without one.
This means that you can have the bottle with you at all times; commuting, at the office or in the gym. The more situations where you can have a bottle with you at all times, the easier it'll be to drink more water!
3. Incentivise Yourself
Have you ever lost a Snapchat streak? Or a Duolingo streak? It's not a nice feeling. Of course, we could examine the psychology of why we feel like this all day, but suffice it to say that gamification works. Making anything a game is a really effective way of motivating yourself to met a goal. We don't like losing.
This is closely related to setting a daily water goal but why not add a game element to it, by rewarding yourself at the end of a 7 day streak of meeting your daily water goal? Allow yourself that treat at the weekend or start a water savings account and add to it every time you achieve your weekly goal.
4. Use an App
As with most things that we can track nowadays - there's an app for it! Download an app that will allow you to track our progress towards your daily goal.
Many of you may already use MyFitnessPal, which has an integration for drinking water. As you can see below, at the bottom of your diary you can add water and then select the quantity.
5. Set Reminders
Put that smartphone to use and set reminders at regular intervals to trigger your mind to drink. Eventually, as you get used to the routine your brain will become accustomed to drinking more water at those exact times. This is a great tip for inducing new habits in all realms but works great for drinking too. See the example below:
6. Make Water Part of Breakfast
Try and get into the habit of drinking at least 500ml between getting up and leaving the house in the morning. Think about it, if you're daily goal is 2.5L and you drink 500ml at breakfast time that means that you're 20% of the way there before you've even stepped out the door!
7. Make Water a Bedtime Habit
You guessed it! If you take that idea from breakfast time and apply it to your nightly routine before bed then you can easily fit 40% of your water intake into the hour or so at the start and end of your day. A 500ml glass an hour before bed should be little enough not disturb your sleep with a visit to the toilet.
8. Replace Fizzy Drinks with Water
If you have a fizzy drinks, or soda, habit it's high time you kicked it and replaced it with a water habit! Admittedly it's a lot harder to get addicted to something with no sugar content I know, but that Diet Coke is doing nothing for you nutritionally and your body will be much better off if you replaced it with water. There are numerous scientific studies that highlight the impact of a fizzy juice habit both in terms of calories and health problems.
Researchers from Cancer Council Victoria and the University of Melbourne recently published the results of a study that shows just one can of soda a day can increase cancer risk - regardless of whether it is diet or non-diet.
The more you exercise, the more water your body will demand. Hopefully with some of the other steps listed above, you'll also be able to drink throughout your workout and keep your body hydrated.
You can lose up to 17oz of water in a one hour run, so it's important to keep your body fuelled while you exercise. But if you're able to do so, you'll feel great!
10. Invest in a filter
We've saved the most important hack for last. If you don't already have one, get yourself an alkaline water filter. It goes without saying that drinking more water is so much easier with a filter in your home. No more horrible tap water and no need to worry about lugging those multipacks of plastic water bottles home from your trips to the supermarket!
Make drinking tap water a joy, rather than a chore and you will be drinking more water without even thinking about it!