On average, the human body is 60% water. All this water is important for keeping everything in our bodies running smoothly. Staying properly hydrated improves the appearance of our skin, keeps muscles and joints lubricated, prevents brittle hair and nails, improves overall health, and even helps prevent overeating. It also affects our mental ability and overall physical performance.

However, staying properly hydrated is much more than simply drinking eight glasses of water a day. With summer upon us, let’s review some common hydration mistakes and how to avoid them.

The eight glasses a day myth 

No doubt that it is well-meaning advice to drink eight glasses of water each day, but it’s advice that isn’t always accurate. When it comes to how much water a person needs, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

How much water each of us needs depends on a variety of lifestyle factors, including environmental, physical activity levels, and diet.

One widely accepted rule, which is mostly accurate, for how much water an individual needs to drink each day is ½-1 ounce of liquid per pound of body weight. So someone weighing 160 pounds should drink at least 80 ounces of liquid per day.

You can’t hydrate yourself all at once

Remember studying for a test by cramming the night before? It didn’t work out so well did it? The same goes for hydration. You can’t play catch up by chugging water in one go.

It’s always better to drink water consistently throughout the day.

Drinking too much water at one time overwhelms the body, and most of it is flushed out. Drinking throughout the day results in your body absorbing it better.  

Having bad habits can dehydrate you

Several bad dietary habits negatively affect hydration, such as:

  • Consuming too much caffeine
  • Consuming too much alcohol
  • Eating high-sodium foods, such as cured meats and processed foods
  • Drinking beverages with a high-sugar content

Sometimes even healthy habits can cause dehydration. A diet that is high in protein, for example, means the individual will require a higher fluid intake. That’s because the body requires more water to metabolize the naturally occurring gases in protein. Certain vegetables, such as asparagus and artichokes, have diuretic properties that can cause you to lose extra fluid.

Clear urine isn’t the goal

Urine is a good indicator of hydration. It is true that the darker its color, the more dehydrated you likely are. On the other hand, crystal-clear urine is a likely indicator you are over hydrated, which can throw off your body’s electrolyte balance. It’s better to aim for urine that is a light-yellow or straw color.

Zero salt isn’t the goal either

While it is true that a high-sodium diet can dehydrate the body, not all salt is bad. Sodium supports muscle function, nerve impulses, and fluid balance. The body naturally loses sodium and other electrolytes through sweat.

During times of heavy sweating or long duration, high-intensity exercise, then both water and sodium need to be replaced.*

Thorne’s Catalyte is an easy way to do that.* It’s formulated based on the typical ratios of sodium and other electrolytes found in sweat – including a blend of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc – which are also lost in sweat, but rarely included in sports drinks.*

Do drink water first thing in the morning 

One of the best and easiest ways to avoid dehydration is to start the day with a big glass of water. That’s because we lose body fluids during sleep. So even if you go to bed well-hydrated, by the next morning you’ll need to rehydrate.

Most of that nightly fluid loss occurs through breathing in our sleep, and it’s worse for individuals who breathe through their mouth, snore, or have sleep apnea. In addition to breathing, a hot or dry room also contributes to excessive sweating and fluid loss during sleep. That’s why it’s important to jumpstart your day by drinking about 16 ounces of water.

Don’t only drink water after a workout

Chugging a bottle of water after a hard workout definitely helps with hydration, but it’s also important to drink plenty of water before and during a workout. That’s because as little as 2% dehydration can have a negative impact on both mental and physical performance.

So if you start your workout almost dehydrated, or you become dehydrated during a workout, then you won’t perform at an optimal level. Be sure to start your workout well hydrated and have a water bottle handy to keep up fluid intake during exercise.