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The Signs You’re Drinking Too Much Water
Even though we’re constantly reminded of the benefits of staying hydrated, drinking enough water can be a tricky business. After a while, you may start to wonder if you’re hydrating properly or going overboard.
Drinking too much water can result in a condition called hyponatremia, which is a dangerous drop in blood sodium levels. Though it’s relatively uncommon to attain water intoxication, it can happen if you outdrink what your body can excrete.
When slightly decreased, low sodium levels may not cause noticeable symptoms. But when they continue to drop due to drinking more than your body is capable of excreting, it can cause symptoms like bloating, headache, brain fog, and nausea. The kidneys have limitations of how much water they can excrete at a time, which is a maximum of 800-1,000 millileters per hour. Anything that exceeds that amount essentially waterlogs the body
Here are the earliest symptoms to look out for, and how to hydrate like a pro.
The Subtle Signs of Over-Hydrating
Monitoring the color of your pee—and how often you run to the throne—are the earliest ways your body alerts you of your hydration status, says Koskinen. Urine color typically ranges from pale yellow to tea-colored, thanks to a combination of the pigment urochrome and the amount of water you drink. If your pee is clear more often than not, that’s a sign that you’re either drinking too much water in too short a timespan.
How to Find Your Hydration Sweet Spot
The best place to start is to estimate how much water your body needs on average. Scientists recommend starting with a half-ounce of water per pound of body weight. Because muscle carries more water than fat, leaner people may stick closer to this number and those with more body fat may ratchet down.
And hydration levels fluctuate day-to-day based on the weather, how hydrating your diet is, how active you are, and other bevvies you sip along the way, the amount of water you drink to fill in the blanks should be adjusted accordingly so as to not overdo it.
One of the easiest ways to fine-tune your hydration habits is to stop looking at it as a water-centric practice, and instead shift your focus to include fluids as a whole. “Fluid doesn’t just come from water, but from any beverage you drink, as well as many foods, Roughly 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food, and the rest from drinks. If soups, fruits and veggies, and smoothies are a regular part of your diet, then you might not need to replenish as often.
Nearly any beverage can count toward meeting your daily fluid needs— Except alcohol and caffein. They cause your body to lose more fluid than you get from the beverage itself.
During hot or humid weather, your body’s need for water may increase—the same is true if you live in dry climates, whether it’s hot or cold. And if you’re super-active or athletic, weighing yourself before and after long, intense workouts (sans clothes) can help you replace fluid losses as accurately as possible.