Written by Catherine Kling Nourse, MPH, RDN, LD
Catherine Kling Nourse is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist who works with individuals and families to maximize their health through enhanced relationships with food in fun and yummy ways.  Learn more about working with Catherine.

You are what you drink?!   With the average adult comprised of ~50 to 60% water…this question has an easy answer (hint, H2O).  Consider that the body depends on water for survival—it is an essential nutrient with each cell, tissue, and organ that needs the right amount to function properly.  Water helps us maintain our internal temperature, remove waste, lubricate joints, transport nutrients, promote immune function, and prevent dehydration.

As we reflect on the benefits of drinking water, let’s examine its role in the prevention of dehydration, one key aspect of healthy physical activity.  Drinking the right amount of fluids (water is the number one fluid choice according to the Centers for Disease Control) before, during and following a workout increases performance and minimizes dehydration risk. Most individuals will want to minimize dehydration (drinking too little) without over-drinking (drinking too much) in order to achieve adequate hydration (drinking just the right amount).  While recommended fluid amounts will vary by individual, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests two practical ways folks can monitor their own hydration status: 1) urine color (straw or lemonade-colored urine) and 2) sweat loss (change in weight before and after exercise) and modify as needed. Each of these options can serve as a hydration/rehydration guide without too much extra effort. As well, the American Council on Exercise offers a general recommendation about how much to consume one should add: drink one extra cup of fluid (preferably water) if you are doing any type of physical activity, exercise or sport.

Here are six tips to help reach your hydration goals:  

1. Keep a bottle of water or fun glass within reach during the day—to reduce personal and environmental costs, choice a reusable option and refill as needed.  

2. Add a slice of cucumber, citrus or other favorite fruit to your water and make it a “drink”.

3. Drink water before and after physical activity; sip water during your workout.

4. When you feel hungry, drink a glass of water before you eat.  Thirst is often confused with hunger and is satisfied first. 

5. Set reminders for yourself to meet hydration goals—phones, computers and watches all have settings that can be activated to help you drink up. This tip is especially important during the winter months when we may not “feel” as thirsty.

6. When dining out, order water…it’s free, hydrating and complements any entrée.  

So, water you waiting for?! Go ahead, raise a glass, water bottle or cup; and try tap, still or sparkling…you are what you drink.