Goals for 2021, Monthly Challenge, Nutrition

January’s Challenge: Hydration

As a bariatric dietitian, one of the topics that I cover constantly is adequate hydration. I emphasize to my patients how important staying hydrated is for their recovery after surgery and beyond, for overall health and well being. I teach them how hydration affects so many functions in the body. I also am completely transparent and honest with them about the fact that I struggle with proper hydration myself, and I don’t even have a reduced stomach size!

That is why I chose hydration as my first challenge of the year. I wanted to choose something that I could learn more about myself and that I could share evidence based information with my followers about. I also knew I wanted to start the year by adding to my every day routine, not taking away or restricting. And I knew that focusing on hydration would help me feel better overall.

Each week I will share progress on my own personal hydration goals as well as some valuable information about this topic. Let me start by sharing how to figure out just how much hydration you really need and sharing what my goal is for this monthly challenge.

So how much fluid do I really need?

Fluid needs vary depending on a lot of factors (how active you are, the temperature and humidity, your own personal sweat rate, age, sex, etc.), so it is difficult to come up with a concrete recommendation. The adequate intake (AI) from the Dietary Reference Intakes is approximately 2700mL (~91oz) for females and 3700mL (~125oz) for males. Is anyone else feeling like they definitely aren’t drinking enough?? ::raises hand::

What really counts as fluids?

Before you start beating yourself up, we get fluids from more than just drinking water. Not only is there water in fluids we drink such as milk, juice, coffee, tea, etc. but nearly all foods contain water and we generate water in our body through metabolism. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to only drink water in order to stay hydrated (if you do get most of your fluid intake from water though, that is awesome!). Drinking a variety of fluids and consuming a balanced diet will help to keep you hydrated.

Okay, so… how much should I be drinking?

For the number minded people, there are a few equations that dietitians use to calculate fluid needs. One of them is 30mL of fluid for every kg of body weight. A rough way to estimate this is to take your weight in pounds, divide that in half, and that is how many ounces of fluids you should aim for in a day. So for someone like myself who weighs 170lbs, I could aim for 85oz fluids daily. Another estimate is 1mL fluid for every calorie needed. If your estimated calorie needs are 2400kcal per day, then your estimated fluid needs are 2400mL per day. Remember that many other factors can influence fluid needs, so these are just rough estimates.

For those who prefer to stick to being mindful and not so focused on the numbers, honoring thirst and monitoring urine output is another way to guide your fluid intakes. Drink when you are thirsty. Pay attention to how often you go to the bathroom – typically if you are well hydrated you’ll be visiting the loo every 2-4 hours. Look at the color of your urine and how much you go each time – urine color is usually a pale yellow (think diluted lemonade) when you are well hydrated.

So for this month’s challenge, here’s a couple examples of goals and how you could monitor how you’re doing with your goal of staying hydrated:

  • I want to drink at least 80oz water daily and I am going to track this with my Garmin app.
  • I want to drink at least 80oz fluids daily, half of which will be plain water, and I am going to track this in my journal.
  • I want to make sure I am getting enough fluids so I am going to pay attention to my urine color and how many times I urinate per day. My goal is to have pale yellow urine and to use the bathroom every 2-4 hours.

My personal goal for this month is to drink at least 85oz fluids daily, and for at least 20oz of that per day to be from plain water. In my next update, I’ll let you know how I am doing with my own personal goals and I will share a little bit more information specific to adequate hydration while exercising/training!


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