How Much Water Should You Really Drink Every Day?

Take a moment and think back to your childhood and the messages you were given about drinking water. Like many of us, you may have been taught the so-called “8 x 8 Rule” -- to drink an eight-ounce glass of water eight times per day to stay properly hydrated. This seemingly innocuous rule is surprisingly controversial. Some think it is unnecessary to drink that much water, while others insist that it is far too little hydration for the average human.

It looks like the latter group is correct on this one. According to research out of the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, the general recommendation for daily water intake is 11 glasses for women (2.7 liters or 91 ounces) and 15 glasses for men (3.7 liters or 125 ounces).

Sound like a lot? Fear not, there are several smart ways to meet your daily hydration requirement. And yes, there’s even an app for that.

1) Eat foods high in water.

While 80 percent of a person’s total daily water intake comes from water or other beverages, the Institute of Medicine says 20 percent comes from food. You can meet our your hydration needs with foods like cucumbers, watermelon, spinach, carrots, grapes, and grapefruit -- some of them consist of 90 percent water.

2) Drink before breakfast.

Bring a full glass of water to your bedside table before you nod off tonight. The moment you wake up, try to drink as much as you can. Drinking water first thing in the morning is a great way to flush out your kidneys and will jump-start your daily intake. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself thirsty the moment your alarm goes off.

3) Hydrate before, during, and after exercise.

Our muscles need water to function properly, so try to drink a few glasses of water before your next workout. Take swigs during your activity (especially if you’re swimming; being in water often tricks us into not drinking water when we are loosing a lot of it) and make sure to hydrate afterwards.

4) Bring an attractive, reusable water bottle to work.

Forget plastic water bottles. According to the Environmental Working Group, it takes 2,000 times more energy to produce bottled water than the same amount of tap water. What’s more, we are using -- and throwing out -- way too many plastic bottles. Every 27 hours, Americans alone consume enough bottled water to circle the equator with plastic bottles. So go out and purchase a reusable water bottle and bring it to work. Place it next to your computer and set a timer on your phone to fill it once every 90 minutes.

5) Remind yourself with an app.

Speaking of your phone, there are tons of apps out there to remind people to drink water. Download a couple to find the one you like best. A few popular ones include Waterlogged, Daily Water Free and Water Alert.

6) Sweeten it.

If plain old water tends to bore you, chop up some cucumbers, limes, oranges, or strawberries and add them to your water bottle. (Lemon water is also a natural elixir.) Change up the fruit or veggie every day to keep things interesting.

7) Grab a cup of Joe.

Yes, coffee is a diuretic, but recent research claims that drinking a moderate amount can still contribute to your daily water intake. According to Mayo Clinic, caffeinated beverages like coffee don’t necessarily cause fluid loss and don’t increase your risk of dehydration. That mid-afternoon pick-me-up can also help your daily water tally.