Are you a drinker? If so, are you drinking too much? Or are you a sometimes drinker or a seldom drinker, and are you getting enough to drink? And how much should we really be drinking?
I’m a drinker! I always have a bottle of water…or some coffee and on occasion a diet gingerale or some lemonade beside me so that I can take a sip every so often. I keep myself well hydrated for the most part. But then I also lead a minimum 11 fitness classes a week so I need to make sure to hydrate. This means I am usually on my way to the restroom every hour or so when I am leading back to back classes. Since I do hydrate so much, I also check the color of my urine every single time I go to the restroom to make sure I am not hydrating too much. Really? Hydrating too much? You can drink too much water? Yup, you can. But we will get back to that later.
Over the last several years I have learned that one of the most popular topics of discussion at a gym is bodily functions. Yup, Urine and feces are HUGE topics at the gym and I have been in the middle of many of them as well as been on the sidelines listening to others talk about it. Today though, we will focus on our urine. I kinda sorta cringe on the inside when I hear someone telling another person that their urine should be clear and/or that they should drink a gallon of water a day. Not so much. So, what about that old saying that we are supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day? How bout that one? Maybe, it depends. But we will get back to that later to.
Let’s start with what color our urine should be. Take a look at the chart below. (chart by Precision Nutrition)
See numbers 1-3? These colors mean we are well hydrated and these are the colors we want our urine to be at any given time. Urine should be either a very light yellow to a straw color. It should also be transparent and not cloudy or fizzy. Colors 4-6 are still in the normal range, but we may want to sip on a beverage more frequently if any of these brighter or darker yellow colors are present. As for colors 7 and 8? Drink. Now! Once urine gets to the honey color it means we are dehydrated.
Some of the symptoms of dehydration include:
- Less frequent urination
- Dry skin
- Dry mouth
- Increased Heart Rate and Breathing
- Skin that does not immediately go back to its shape after pinching
So what does it mean if our urine is clear? It could mean we are over hydrating. And while de-hydration is usually a more common than over-hydration, it is getting to be more frequent. When we drink too much water we can upset the balance of electrolytes in our body. In other words, we have lowered the sodium levels in our body and are not replenishing fast enough. This over hydration is called hyponatremia and is most often associated with super endurance sports and activities that last 3 hours or more.
Some symptoms of over hydration:
- Muscle Cramps or Spasms
So what if my urine is a different color? Saaaaay fluorescent yellow/green? If a multi-vitamin was recently taken, then that may be from the vitamin. Drink some fluid and check back in another couple hours. Red, green, blue, black? While some deeply pigmented foods can cause urine to be a green or pink color, unless they have consumed very recently, then we definitely need to get that checked out!
So, how much water/fluid should be drink to get that desirable light yellow urine? Weeeeell, that depends. On our weight, our daily activity, the climate, etc.
A good general idea is to consume approximately ½ of your body weight in ounces of fluid (coffee, tea, water etc) on top of plenty of nutrient dense whole unprocessed foods. For example: a good estimate of desirable fluid intake for a 130 lb woman would be 65 ounces a day.
So, think back to where we may have heard we need to drink a gallon of water a day? A gallon of water is 128 ounces. That means that the 130 lb woman would be drinking almost her body weight in water, which is a whole heck of a lot! And what if she drinks other stuff to? Good Googly Moogly! My eyeballs would be floating…..if I were a 130lb woman….. which I am not, but that is still a buncha water for me to try to get in as well! Now, all that being said, during exercise we do need more water, so we need to make sure to sip, not gulp water fairly often during exercise. For prolonged exercise, or when it is extremely hot and when we sweat intensely, an electrolyte drink could be a good idea as well.
Now, even though I said a good general idea is to consume approximately ½ of our body weight in fluids throughout the day, that does not mean that we as individuals have to or need to. Each of us is different and have different fluid needs. I sweat a lot. Always have. I don’t even have to be exerting a whole lot of energy and I sweat buckets. I also do a lot of physical activity during the day which causes me to sweat even more, and I spend as much time as possible outside in the sunshine during the spring and summer months in hot and humid North Alabama, so it stands to reason that I would more than likely need more fluid than someone who may weigh more than I do but does not have the same activity level and is indoors most of the time. When I include coffee, and any other liquids I may consume on a daily basis, I probably do end up drinking more than a gallon a day. My husband on the other hand, who has to sit at a desk in an air-conditioned building for most of his day probably does not even consume 1/3 of his body weight in fluid during the day.
Whew, I got through all that without even giving in to my urge to give you all the sciencey stuff and whatnot that I personally love to know, but not everyone else necessarily does so I keep it to a minimum if at all possible. I also “said” urine more times in this one post than I probably have said in my entire life 😊
If you have any questions about your urine, fluid intake or other bodily functions, or this blog or any other questions in general, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if this kind of stuff interests you and you would like to get more exclusive content that ONLY goes out to my tribe, please subscribe to my newsletter
Until next time