Dehydration might be more than the simplified eight-glasses-a-day, especially when it comes to the battle of the sexes. As a matter of fact, how much water your body needs daily is a bit more complicated and yes, gender does matter.
About 55% of women’s, compared with that of 60% of men’s, body weight is made up of water and women weigh on average 15% less than men too. Water is needed in every single bodily function including flushing toxins from our organs, carrying nutrients to your cells, cushioning joints, and helping with digestion. And if you don’t consume enough water, in severe cases, dizziness, confusion and even seizures can be brought on.
In a 2010 study on water intake at the University of Connecticut, women suffered worse concentration in accessibility testing, with mild dehydration than men. But in the same year, a study published in Experiment Physiology found that women only start sweating when exercising at a higher temperature than men, which may lead to women being able to conserve water better. The results found that when it came to hydration, gender and body size do made a difference.
So how much is enough? Every person’s water intake will be different as needs vary on body size, activity, the amount and types of foods that are consumed, and even the air temperature as we head into the hotter summer months. There is no set amount that is right for everyone but there are some basic guidelines. The average, healthy adult in a temperate climate would need an adequate daily fluid intake of:
Around 15.5 cups (3.7 litres) of fluids a day for men
Around 11.5 cups (2.7 litres) of fluids a day for women
This recommendation includes other beverages and food, as about 20% of our daily fluids usually come from the above. However, you might need to modify this based on several factors:
Exercise: When an activity that makes you sweat is involved, you need to drink extra water to cover that water loss. It’s important to drink water before, during and after a workout.
Environment: In hot or humid weather conditions additional fluids are required. Dehydration is a risk too, especially at high altitudes.
Overall health: Your body loses fluids when you have a fever, for example, when sick. Rehydration solutions are needed and recommended best by doctors.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you need additional water to stay hydrated.
Thirst: When you are feeling thirsty, you’re already 1-2% dehydrated.
Body weight: Weigh yourself consecutively for several days in the mornings and take an average weight. Look for three similar weights – this will be your base weight. Going forward, weigh yourself and take note of any changes. If you are 0.5 kg down, you are half a litre (500ml) dehydrated.
Urine: If the colour of your urine is light, your body is releasing water, meaning you are well hydrated. However, if it is dark, it is time to start drinking more fluids. When clear, you’re probably drinking too much.