How Much Is Too Much Water

It’s the recommended daily amount of water that most everyone seems to talk about. It’s pretty open ended though because how big of a glass are they talking about, right? It turned out to be one of those things I wanted to experiment with. I’ve always known that I didn’t drink enough water and basically lived in a constant state of dehydration.

Before I start giving details of the experiment, here are 8 reasons that the Mayo Clinic says you should drink 8 glasses of water per day:

  1. Support vital functions in the body
  2. Muscle stamina
  3. Kidney function
  4. Ease digestion and promote circulation
  5. Aid weight loss
  6. Soothe joints
  7. Clear skin
  8. Boost brain function

Pretty standard stuff. Everyone knows at least some of those. My reasons for wanting to increase my water intake were Muscle Stamina, Soothe Joints and Ease Digestion,. For the first 2, I have knee issues, back issues… I sound like an 80 year old man when I get up off the floor. For the last one, I remember when I was 20 and could eat anything I wanted and not gain a pound. Ah, the good ole days!

This experiment actually started a long time ago, way before this blog existed. I decided I was going to make myself drink water everyday at work. I had a 500 Milliliter mug and I was aiming for 4 liters of water a day, that’s 8 mugs full of water. That seems easy enough. I don’t think I ever successfully hit 8 mugs a day. I even downloaded an App on my phone that would make it beep every hour, on the hour, from 9am to 4pm. For the non-math whiz’s out there, that’s 8 times, one beep for each mug of water. Still that didn’t seem to do it because when the beep went off, I wouldn’t get up and fill my mug, or I wouldn’t even hear the beep. (I think I started to mentally block it out, honestly)

So then, I decided to change course. Instead of 8 x 500ml mugs of water, I bought a 2 liter jug. My thinking was, fill it in the morning, fill at noon. It’s sitting right there on my desk so I’ll see it. Don’t have to pull myself away from the computer every hour to go fill it… No way that won’t work. And boy, did it work.

Did you know it’s possible to drink too much water? Yeah, it is. Turns out 4 liters of water is too much for the kind of lifestyle I live and I was basically drowning myself. I started feeling worse. No energy, didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning and go to the IceBox, headaches… just a couple of symptoms of hyponatremia, or over hydrating, as it turns out.

“When you drink too much water, your kidneys can’t get rid of the excess water. The sodium content of your blood becomes diluted. This is called hyponatremia and it can be life-threatening.” – mayoclinic.org

Well I’ll be damned. Can you guess what some of the symptoms are?

  • Headache
  • Loss of energy, drowsiness and fatigue
  • Muscle weakness, spasms or cramps

So there is something to be said for not drinking enough water, but there is also something to be said about drinking too much. This week I’ve knocked myself down to 3 liters a day to see how that goes. So I’m 3/4 filling my jug, twice a day.

The thing I didn’t really think about is that when you’re talking “water”, there are other factors I wasn’t considering. Most days I drink a liter of water during my 6 am workout… and I have a coffee when I’m getting ready for work after the workout. So really, I’ve already had probably 1.25 liters of “water” by the time I get to the office and adding another 4 on top of that was over-the-top.

I’m going to try 3 liters during the work day for a couple of weeks and see how that goes! Stay tuned for a follow-up post after that time.

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