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Improve your hydration: 11 tips that actually work to help you drink more water

Improve your daily water intake with these easy tips to stay on track

We all know how important it is to drink enough water and to stay properly hydrated. After all, the body is composed of about 70% water, and nearly every cell in the body requires water to retain its shape and function. However, while we know that drinking enough water is vital to feel our best and optimize our health, plain water just doesn’t have the allure of sweetened beverages like soda, juice, sweet tea, and coffee drinks. Even with the best of intentions, many people fall short of their daily water needs. If you’re in this majority, keep reading for our top tips to help you drink more water and improve your overall hydration.

Glass of water on table.

Benefits of drinking water

The importance of drinking enough water to stay well hydrated has been drilled into us so much over the years that it’s a basic health fact nearly everyone can rattle off, but why exactly is hydration so important?

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As summarized by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper hydration is critical for optimal health. Drinking enough water ensures that your cells stay hydrated and structurally sound. Water also serves as a transport medium in your body and forms the plasma in blood, which is necessary to deliver nutrients to cells and remove waste products. Water also lubricates joints, helps regulate your blood pressure and body temperature, and aids in the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

How much water should I drink daily?

A man bending down on one knee in the middle of a workout.

Most people have heard the advice that you should drink eight glasses of water a day, but is that enough? Is it more than you need?

According to the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water, the total daily fluid intake for adults living in temperature climates is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) for women. These fluid needs may be higher for those living in tropical and sub-tropical climates due to increased rates of perspiration.

It’s important to note that these daily fluid recommendations include all fluids, including beverages like coffee, tea, milk, juice, etc. These figures also include fluids found naturally in foods, which normally constitute about 20% of your total daily fluid intake. Therefore, the actual amount of water you should drink per day is about 20% less. Although water should certainly be the majority of the fluid you’re drinking in a day, other drinks also count toward that total.

Returning to the eight glasses of water per day advice, if a glass of water is eight ounces — or one cup — eight glasses of water per day is a good starting place. That is perhaps sufficient for some women, but the recommendation falls short for most adults.

Keep in mind that your hydration needs will be further increased if you exercise and/or are a heavy sweater.

Tips to drink more water

water bottles storage
Inna Dodor/Getty Images

Here are some of our top tips to make it easier to drink more water and meet your hydration needs:

#1: Set a daily water goal

Have you ever noticed how much more motivated you are to take on a new habit when you set a tangible, defined goal?

It’s true — studies suggest that the mere act of setting a goal can provide additional motivation that will help you stick with the positive changes you are trying to make.

Set a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) call for drinking water. For example, instead of just saying, “I want to drink more water,“ set specific criteria for your goal, such as, “I will drink 1.5 liters of water per day for the next month.” Hopefully, by the end of the month, you will have built a consistent habit and the behavior will feel like a regular part of your normal routine.

#2: Drink a full glass of water when you wake up

A lot of health experts say that the single-best thing you can do as part of your morning routine is to drink a full 12–16 ounce glass of water right when you wake up.

You can add lemon or drink warm water if that’s more appealing to you (and there may be additional benefits of drinking warm lemon water), but the majority of the health benefits come from drinking the water itself. Plus, starting your day with a 16-ounce glass of water already gets you well on your way to your total daily hydration needs, so if your day gets hectic later on and it’s hard to remember to drink, you already have a decent head start.

#3: Flavor your water

Glass of water with limes.

This is certainly the most popular tip to drink more water, but that’s because it’s so effective. Whether you add cucumber, mint, citrus like limes or lemons, berries, or other fruit, a little pop of flavor can enhance the taste of your water and make it more appealing to drink.

Even if you’re on a diet, you’re not going to consume a significant number of calories through any kind of fruit-infused water as long as you aren’t juicing the fruit and eating the pulp.

Another good option is water-flavoring drops. We love Water Drops because they’re also blended with healthy botanicals.

#4: Try electrolyte powders

Electrolyte powders will can enhance the taste of your water, as most are flavored. On top of that, electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium will also improve fluid absorption. In this way, electrolytes can improve your hydration in a two-prong approach: Encouraging you to drink more water because your water tastes better and increasing your absorption of the water you’re already drinking.

Look for low-sugar, naturally-sweetened electrolyte powders such as Ultima Hydration.

#5: Drink before every meal

man eating a meal with water

Having a full glass of water before every meal will not only make strides towards your daily hydration needs, but it can also help curb overeating by increasing satiety. In other words, you’ll probably feel fuller and eat less as a result.

#6: Challenge a friend

Turning your water drinking into a little friendly competition can be a great way to spur you to drink more water. Challenge a friend, family member, or coworker to a daily water drinking contest.

Use reusable water bottles and keep track of the number of liters or fluid ounces you drink per day.

#7: Pair a glass of water with every trip to the bathroom

When you rid your body of fluid by way of urine, try to immediately replace re-hydrate with a full glass of water.

Although your fluid needs don’t work in an immediate feedback mechanism that’s this simple, drinking right after you use the bathroom is a simple behavioral cue that can help remind you to drink water with routine frequency throughout the day. As a bonus, as you get going with this new practice, you’ll probably start peeing more often, meaning you’ll be drinking even more water.

#8: Try a smart water bottle

smart water bottles

A smart water bottle is one of the most motivating ways to stay on track with your daily water drinking goals and have some extra motivation along the way.

Smart water bottles, or products such as the innovative Lucy Cap, gamify your water drinking and give you a precise read on how much water you drink per day. The Lucy Cap also gently flashes periodically to remind you to drink more water.

#9: Set alarms

If you tend to forget to drink, use your phone alarms or calendar alerts to set reminders every hour to have a big swig from your water bottle.

#10: Use an app

A Waterdrop water bottle and a user on the Hydration App

If you don’t have a smart water bottle, use an app like Daily Water Free or Daily Water to help you meet your daily water goals. These apps send you reminders to drink, and you can log your hydration as you go. Plus, it’s fun to track your progress over time.

#11: Eat more water-filled foods

Slices of watermelon on wooden cutting board beside a whole watermelon.

Remember, you can satisfy your daily fluid needs through drinks and food. Fresh vegetables and fruits have a high water content. For example, both watermelon and cucumbers are nearly 96% water. Adding these foods to your diet will contribute to your daily water intake.

Oftentimes, the best place to start when trying to get yourself to drink more water is to just get a baseline assessment of how much you’re drinking. Then, buy a reusable water bottle or a special water filter and gradually try to increase the amount of water you drink every day.

You don’t have to suddenly start guzzling gallons of water every day; rather, build up slowly. As your body starts to feel better with improved hydration levels, you’ll be all the more motivated to keep it up.

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