So many of us are dehydrated and we don't even know it. I didn't really start prioritizing drinking water until this past year. It sounds silly, but I would often an entire work day, just cranking along, and not have my first sip of water until the end of the day. I knew it was bad for me, and I'd be really thirsty. And get this, I actually love water as a beverage (I don't drink soda, juice, etc.). But being the workaholic I am, I just pushed through the day and wouldn't bother getting up, going to the kitchen and getting a cup of water. It wasn't until I invested in a reusable water bottle and made a conscious effort to fill it and keep it on my desk that I started to drink water more regularly. And if I'm being honest, I sometimes I still slip into this old habit.
I'm sure I'm not alone here. If you actually think about when you have your first sip of water on a normal day, not your coffee in the morning or your diet soda at lunch, you'll probably surprise yourself. I have a friend who told me she only drinks a couple glasses of water a day because she doesn't want to pee too often. WHAT. I'd understand that if she was in a third world country without access to clean bathrooms, or if she was about to start a long roadtrip and the next stop wasn't until the next state. Not if she's working as an executive at a tech company in NYC.
Turns out, if you're dehydrated, you don't just have yellow pee. Your body will also show other symptoms, and they may surprise you.
A lot of people are tired simply because their bodies are chronically dehydrated. When you wake up in the morning, you've likely gone 12ish hours without drinking water. Additionally, you can lose 0.5-1L of water while you're sleeping (especially if you're a night sweater!). So when you wake up tired, what your body might really be telling you is that you're dehydrated. I'm pretty sure I fall into this bucket.
2. Brain fog
Many people don't correlate brain fog with dehydration, but if your body is dehydrated, so is your brain. This is especially important for athletes, because a dehydrated brain is more prone to a concussion or traumatic brain injury.
Dizziness may not always be from low blood sugar, or vertigo, or an ear infection. It might just be because you're dehydrated. If you're dizzy, you'll want to add in the electrolytes to your water as well (sodium and potassium - lime or lemon and pinch of sea salt).
4. Muscle weakness
Not only are your muscles 70%+ water, hydration also helps to bring in a lot of the other nutrients necessary for muscle repair. If your grip is weaker, or your muscles aren't contracting as well as they normally do, you may be dehydrated. Additionally, the more protein you're eating the more water you should be drinking.
5. Muscle cramping
Similar to #4, muscle cramps can also be a result of a lack of water in your muscle cells and tissues.
6. High Blood Pressure
If you don't have enough water in your system, you can actually change the viscosity of your blood. Basically, your red blood cells get sticky and they clump together, which doesn't allow for a good flow of the blood, resulting in high blood pressure.
This one really surprised me, because I'm pretty sure your doctor doesn't prescribe you water when you have high blood pressure.
If you start feeling a headache come on, reach for a glass of water and try to relax. A lot of people reach for caffeine, which can help because caffeine can work as a vasoconstrictor, constricting the blood flow to the head. However, even if it helps, rather than supplementing, you should figure out why you're having the imbalance and try to address it (i.e. drink water if it's because you're dehydrated).
So what should you do to make sure you're hydrated?
Best practice is to start your morning with a glass of water first, before your coffee. If you want to get fancy, add a squeeze of lemon or lime and a pinch of sea salt to get your electrolytes in. You may even find that over time, you won't even need the coffee to wake up because the water does it for you.
Then 1-2 hours later, have a fruit and veggie smoothie for breakfast. Not only are smoothies great in the morning because they're easy on your digestive system and you get a bunch of nutrients into your body, you're also getting a few cups of water through the fruits and veggies (and whatever you use as the liquid base).
If you follow this, you'll consume ~30 oz of water by mid-morning!
How much water should you drink?
While it depends on the person, aim for half your body weight in ounces of water. Water from fruits and vegetables counts as well!