It's obvious that you need water to stay alive, and maybe you already knew that mild dehydration can wreck your cognitive functioning, athletic performance, and generally make you feel awful. Some studies have shown that mild dehydration may have the same effects on vascular function as smoking a cigarette.
So! It's wiser than wise to keep hydrated. But how do you make sure you keep drinking when there are friends to text, emails to respond to, faces to swipe? Like most of the best solutions, this one is elegantly simple: carry a reusable water bottle with you at all times. The reasons it works, though, are more complex than you might imagine.
How much water should I be drinking to begin with?
Experts are all over the board on how much you should drink each day. Some say the classic eight glasses, others claim that's way too much. There's even the more complex calculus that says you should drink same amount of milliliters that you consume in calories, so if you take in 2,000 calories, you should drink 2,000mL, which comes out to a little more than 8.3 glasses per day.
That's enough math for now, but basically drinking somewhere between six and 10 glasses a day (some say it's safe to drink up to a gallon, if you're super thirsty) depending on your exercise level and the temps outdoors. Just don't overdo it, as there are medical issues related to that, namely: water intoxication.
The experts swear by the reusable water bottle strategy
Just like with cheeseburgers, there's a direct correlation between having water in your hand and consuming it. "Carrying water encourages you to drink more merely by the exposure effect," says registered dietitian Monica Auslander. "You invested money into a water bottle, the time to fill it up, and you realize you're saving money -- and recycling issues -- by not opting for plastic."
So if you're swapping out the plastic, what kind of bottle should you get? There's certainly a spectrum of personal preference, but steer toward stainless steel or glass bottles (with rubberized edges to prevent breakage). Just make sure it's BPA and phthalate-free, because plastic bottles can leach toxic chemicals in warm temperatures.
"You might find that switching to stainless is a no-brainer once you realize the durability and safety afforded by these bottles. When looking for alternative drinking bottles to complement your fitness efforts, look for products that are labeled as BPA-free. It is important to that note that some plastics that carry recycle codes 3 or 7 may still contain BPA. Great alternatives to BPA plastics include glass and stainless steel containers," advises registered dietitian Cara Walsh.
Some non-plastic options that experts say they fill up on are the Klean Kanteen, bobble Insulate, and S'well bottles. The price tag on these can seem a bit hefty... then again, think of all the money you'll save by not buying disposable bottles all the time. Here's some more math -- sorry -- but if a 16oz water bottle costs $2, and you have four per day (that's give or take eight cups), multiply that by every day... well, you're looking at almost $3K in a year. Yeah, that's pretty aggressive since there's virtually no one who only drinks bottled water, but it does make splurging on $30 water bottle look like a bargain.
Don't discount the tracking effect
We live in a tracking era, so if you're the kind of person who enjoys things like counting steps or other random data accumulation, carrying a water bottle with you can be a way to challenge yourself to hit specific numerical targets. For example, you could aim to take in an entire bottle by 10am, then another by 2pm, and so on, keeping a steady sipping pace.
"Carrying a reusable water bottle in your hand or at your desk will act as a visual cue to drink more water," registered dietitian Abbey Sharp adds. "Make it a habit to refill the bottle each time you get up from your desk and use plastic rubber bands to count the number of times you've refilled it so that you can keep track of your daily intake."
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