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Let’s be honest with ourselves…how many of us drink enough water during the day? Typically speaking, it is recommended to reach around 64 ounces of water per day, about eight 8-ounce glasses. However, according to The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men should drink about 15.5 cups (124 ounces) and women should drink 11.5 (92 ounces). Even still, your recommended water intake will also depend on how active you are, and if you’re overweight, you need to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water.
On average, according to a study done by the CDC, 43% of adults drink less than four cups of water a day, and 7% said they don’t drink any water.
It seems like a lot of water, doesn’t it? But in reality, it’s not, and it’s incredibly important to drink sufficient amounts of water to support overall health. Consuming the proper amount of water will help us keep hydrated, may lessen the risk of kidney stones, may give you healthier skin, and may aid in weight loss.
However, how much water is too much? In an opportunity to get myself to drink more water, I took on the “gallon challenge.” For this, I purchased a gallon water jug (and I kid you not, the thing is bigger than my head). I drank a gallon of water every day for 30 days to see if there would be any effects of drinking 128 fluid ounces versus the recommended amount. (Please note: I am a 5-foot, 1-inch active woman in her late twenties, so this is over the daily recommended intake for me, but not by too much).
Here’s what happened:
Drinking water helps your digestive system get moving. If you don’t drink enough water, you can become constipated, and if that happened, you may feel bloated.
It’s not to say that I didn’t still get bloated. If I ate a big meal or consumed too much salt, I felt my stomach expand. However, water helped me get through it, and I wasn’t left constantly feeling bloated or uncomfortable.
This was the most interesting side effect for me. If you do not drink enough water, you become dehydrated. One of the side effects of dehydration is headaches. However, did you know that you can still get headaches if you drink too much water?
If you drink too much water, you can put yourself at risk for hyponatremia. Hyponatremia can happen when the body’s sodium level is too low. This can happen when you’re constantly drinking water and your body is holding much of it. It then can cause the sodium in your body to become diluted. One of the symptoms of hyponatremia can include headaches. Other side effects can include nausea, fatigue, and even confusion. Although I did feel some nausea and fatigue, it thankfully was not consistent enough to mark as concerning.
The lesson here? Make sure you add electrolytes to your water. It doesn’t have to be the whole gallon, but at least to one or two glasses. I added DripDrop powder packets to glasses of water, and I felt instantly better, knowing I was getting the proper nutrients.
I pretty much expected this to happen; I drank so much water that I was constantly running to find a restroom to relieve my bladder of all the tension. I was told to embrace it, but I didn’t like how it took away from literally everything I was doing.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, your body produces urine to get rid of excess waste and water that it doesn’t need. Your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra are all involved in producing urine. However, the kidneys do the heavy lifting. They filter all the waste from your blood, helping you flush it all out. The kidneys also take out extra water from the blood to keep the balance of electrolytes in its correct spot.
However, too much water can make it hard for the kidneys to rid of the excess water, which could lead to some serious side effects.
This happened more so during the first couple of weeks when I first started drinking all this water. I think my body at first was in a state of shock because I went from drinking the bare minimum amount of water to an entire gallon of it.
After the first week of drinking that much water, I realized that if I went an hour without consuming anything, I would get thirsty and have a desire to drink more water. Whether this was psychological or not, I found it interesting that my body was telling me to drink more water. I’d say this is a perk because my body acknowledged that I should be drinking water more often.
It has been said that water is great to help your metabolism, and after my test, I can confirm that this is true.
Typically speaking, water helps to “flush” fat from the body. Studies have also shown that water can boost your body’s energy spending and turn stored fat into fuel.
Leaving me to feel fuller longer was a great way to have me stop snacking on unnecessary and unhealthy foods. If I continued this process, it would probably help aid me in weight loss since I stopped consuming excess calories.
I definitely do not need to continuously drink a gallon of water a day. I do believe that it had its benefits, but I don’t want to continuously struggle to drink so much water throughout the day. It made me acknowledge how much I should drink. However, aside from the fact that I had to carry this large bottle of water with me everywhere I went, it was more of a hassle than necessary. I’ll stick to the average amount of water, and maybe a little more if I’m feeling like I need a body readjustment.