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Hot Water Debate: How Much Water Do You Need?

We debunk all the myths about daily hydration guidelines.

Hot Water Debate: How Much Water Do You Need?

You've been misled into thinking that having eight glasses of water a day is good for you according to newer research about recommended daily water intake. But here at M&F, we know that having plenty of water is one of the easiest and healthiest things you can do for your body, particularly if you're a gym regular.

"Scientists say there is no evidence drinking large amounts of water is beneficial for the average healthy person, and do not even know how this widely held belief came about," says Telegraph Medical Editor Rebecca Smith.

The article does concede that athletes and those in dry climates need to drink more water to help the body clear salt and urea but does not go so far as to offer a conclusive recommendation for water consumption.

Smith's story, which is built on studies conducted by two doctors at the Renal, Electrolyte and Hypertension Division at the University of Pennsylvania, seems to ignore other evidence that clearly points out the benefits of increased water intake.

M&F numbered many of these benefits prior to the studies cited by the Telegraph and The Institute of Medicine recommends that the average male gets in the equivalent of 16 eight-ounce glasses of water and the average female gets in 11 eight-ounce glasses daily. If you're active—as we suspect you are—these demands can go even higher.


Those carrying more muscle need more water for adequate hydration (muscle contains more water). If you're exercising, expect to drink more too. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends getting in about 20 ounces before exercise, 10 ounces every 15 minutes of exercise—40 ounces for an hour workout—and about 32 ounces after. That alone is 92 ounces of water for anyone who workouts daily, well over the 64-ounce (eight, eight-ounce glasses of water) helping recommended by the Telegraph. Research shows that as little as a 2% decrease in body weight (from water loss) can cause significant decreases in muscle endurance and muscle strength.

"The Telegraph article study also considers the water present in food," points out M&F Senior Science Editor Jim Stoppani, PhD. "But who can possibly determine the amount of water in their food besides scientists? The average person cannot."

Finally, there are plenty of studies showing that water intake can help with weight loss, such as the research from Germany showing that two cups of water can boost metabolic rate and weight loss. And let us not forget that reaching for a bottle of water is better than drinking calorie loaded soft drinks and juices.