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Water is beneficial for healthy weight management.
Whether you prefer your water distilled, purified, sparkling or straight from the tap, drinking enough each day is vital to good health. Even mild dehydration can make you feel fatigued, and it can even impair cognitive function, according to a 2018 study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The amount of water you need is not based on your calorie intake; it's based on your age, gender, climate and amount of daily exercise, according to Mayo Clinic.
Adequate Intake for Water
There isn't a recommended daily allowance, or RDA, for water as there is for protein, carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals. Instead, the Food and Nutrition Board Institute of Medicine determined an adequate intake (AI) - an amount deemed sufficient to ensure nutritional adequacy. For women, the AI is 2.7 liters, or about 11.5 cups per day; for men, the AI is 3.7 liters, or close to 16 cups per day.
Factors Influencing Water Needs
The AI is a good place to start when figuring out how much water you need each day. Two major factors that can affect water needs are climate and daily exercise, because they influence perspiration, which causes your body to lose more fluids, according to Mayo Clinic. If you live in a warm climate and you sweat a lot, you'll need more water. Similarly, if you exercise a lot, you'll need more water. If you exercise in a hot climate, that further increases your hydration requirements.
In addition to the 11.5 to 16 cups you need each day, you should drink water before, during and after exercise, especially if you're exercising in a hot climate. If you work outside in the heat, you also need to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
Women who are breastfeeding also require more water - about 16 cups per day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Fluids vs. Water
That much water may seem like an impossible amount to drink every day. But your hydration needs are met by more than just the water you drink. In fact, any beverage you consume - tea, water, milk - contributes to your intake. Food also contributes fluids - around 20 percent of your daily needs, according to Mayo Clinic. Some fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber and celery, are high in water and will help you meet your daily goal.
Keep It Sugar Free
A diet containing 1,500 calories a day is a pretty low-calorie diet for most people. Therefore, you need to save all your calories for nutritious foods, rather than waste them on sugary beverages. While sodas and other sweetened beverages contribute to your daily fluid intake, they're high in calories and not a good source of nutrients. To keep your calorie intake low and stay hydrated, get your fluids from water; unsweetened coffee and tea; dairy or plant milk; and fruits and vegetables.