A day spent soaking up summer sunshine calls for slathering on lots of homemade sunscreen and drinking more H20 (flavored water def counts) to stay healthy. But did you know that drinking TOO much water while enjoying your fave summer activities or exercise can actually result in scary symptoms and some crazy health problems? To get some expert knowledge about how much fluid you actually need to drink on a hot day, we consulted with Dr. Christopher Calapai, a Manhattan physician that’s certified in family and anti-aging medicine. Scroll on to brief yourself on overhydration and for an easy-to-follow checklist of how to stay safe and feel your best as temps rise.
The 411 on overhydration
When talking about overhydration, Dr. Calapai tells us, “This is a clear case of ‘too much of a good thing.’ As a society, we’ve become so focused on staying hydrated that we’re actually guzzling water to sometimes life-threatening extremes. Some people have become such water drinking devotees that they’re actually what I call ‘aquaholics.’ This can be very dangerous, as it often results in overhydration.”
According to Dr. Calapai, overhydration symptoms, which aren’t always easy to spot, range from headaches to feeling confused or disoriented. In more serious cases, you might feel nauseous or experience scary changes like muscle weakness, spasms or cramps. If you experience any of these, get yourself checked ASAP. Super severe overhydration can cause seizures, unconsciousness and even a coma. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
The right amount of H20
Basically, preventing overhydration comes down to paying attention to what you’re doing and how much you’re drinking. Dr. Calapai emphasizes, ”You should avoid drinking more than one liter of fluid per hour.” If you know you’ll be doing something super active, like a crazy hard exercise class or long run, he says that “drinking more fluids before and during the activity can also help you avoid the need to drink too much water afterward.”
Take this advice to heart to pace your water intake. Toting around a water bottle (we love these high-tech and eco-friendly options!) and making it a point to drink steadily throughout the day will totally help.
6 Easy tips for staying healthy and hydrated
1. Weigh yourself. Weigh yourself daily for a week to check hydration levels. “Your body weight shouldn’t fluctuate too much,” Calapai says.
2. Pay attention. Notice how much you pee — and its color — in the morning. It should be pale or clear.
3. Aim to wake up feeling hydrated. If you’re thirsty when you get out of bed in the morning, you may not be consuming enough fluids.
4. Choose your sports drinks carefully. When choosing delicious sports drinks, scan the labels for low sugar. Dr. Calapai recommends about five grams or less per eight-ounce serving. He says, “Even natural drinks like coconut water have too much sugar and potassium to hydrate.”
5. Don’t forget about other fluids! Coffee, tea and watery fruits and vegetables count toward fluid intake, too.
6. Sip slowly and pace yourself. Dr. Calapai reminds us, “Sleep is a six- to eight-hour fast, so if you drink three cups of juice or water right away, you’ll trigger the volume response. Sip instead.”
Do you have a favorite water bottle or trick for staying hydrated without going totally overboard? Tweet us about it @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)