Boost your mood, support your weight, and improve your focus by knowing when and how much you need to hydrate.
If one of your goals is to drink more water, you’re on your way to a healthier body. Every cell in our body needs water. Water is essential for the functioning of digestion, heart, lungs and brain. Whatever your hydration goal, drink regularly throughout the day.
Here are seven times when sipping is a smart move
1. When you wake up, drink one to two glasses of water.
Rather than throwing yourself on your coffee with your eyes closed, drink a cup or two of water first. Since you don’t drink while you sleep, you wake up already dehydrated. Drinking water now can get you back to your baseline. It can also be helpful if you take medication in the morning. So, yes, go get your coffee. The good news is that it’s also considered a liquid, and although it’s a caffeinated drink, which tends to be dehydrating, moderate amounts of coffee aren’t dehydrating, according to a small previous study conducted on 50 men. (Despite everything, coffee does not replace water).
2. To regulate hunger, a glass of water before a meal can be helpful
Water can play a role in weight management. Drinking a cup of water before a meal can help you feel fuller and prevent overeating. In fact, a small study found that drinking water before a meal helped both men and women eat less and feel just as satisfied as a group that didn’t drink water before. The researchers published their findings in October 2018 in the journal Clinical Nutrition Research. It may also be better if it’s frozen. A small study of men published in the European Journal of Nutrition in January 2019 found that participants who drank two cups of ice cold water ate less food compared to groups who drank warm or hot water because the temperature cold slows digestion and can help reduce appetite.
3. Drink a glass of water to wash down a meal.
Drinking water while eating aids digestion. It is especially important to drink water with fiber-rich foods. Fiber moves through your digestive system and absorbs water, which aids in stool formation and promotes regularity. So if you fill your plate with plant-based foods (as you should!), drink water too.
4. Drink water instead of coffee to remedy a mid-afternoon slump.
It is common to experience the afternoon low, a drop in energy that occurs around 3 p.m. This dip drives many people to grab a coffee to keep you going at the end of the day, but this choice of drink can interfere with your sleep. According to previous research, even consuming caffeine six hours before bedtime has been found to disrupt sleep compared to a placebo. Consuming a sugary snack can also have side effects, namely a drop in energy after a peak. Instead of resorting to these imperfect solutions, address the root cause, which may be dehydration. A review published in Nutrients in January 2019 notes that in addition to fatigue, dehydration can cause anger, hostility, confusion, and depression. So, making water a daily habit can help keep your energy and mood stable.
5. Drink water when you have a headache
A headache can be a symptom of dehydration. What’s more, it can also trigger migraine attacks. For people with migraines, increasing water intake may help decrease the severity, frequency and duration of migraines, suggests a July 2020 trial of adult women and published in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience .
6. Hydrate smartly before, during and after exercise
Hydration begins a day or two before exercise. You also shouldn’t jump into the water before a workout in hopes of hydrating, as you might feel uncomfortable while moving. Be sure to drink water regularly in the days leading up to a workout, especially ones that are tough or sweaty. In fact, you should focus on a hydration strategy starting the week before an endurance run, as research published November 2019 in Sports Medicine shows that going there dehydrated, even by a small amount amount, may decrease performance. For moderate workouts (like a jog outside, a brisk morning walk, a hop on a bike), drink a cup of water about 30 minutes before and sip during exercise. Then be sure to hydrate yourself after the workout is over to replace what you lost through sweating.
7. Drink a sip or two of water before bed.
Don’t drink a cup or two of water before bed, you’ll have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and it will disrupt your sleep. However, do not hesitate to bring a glass of water to your bedside in the evening, in case you are thirsty. For many patients undergoing treatment, one of the common side effects is dry mouth, so it may be helpful to keep water on hand.
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