Staying adequately hydrated is a year-round necessity and vital to our health, well-being and fat loss goals, but when winter's chill sets in, maintaining your water intake may seem challenging.
To me water is magical - the body simply cannot operate efficiently without sufficient water supply. Your body requires water to:
make hydrochloric acid (stomach acid), bile production, blood, urine, & sweat, etc.
keep mucus membranes in your lungs and GI tract moist and functional
carry nutrients and oxygen to cells, as well as eliminate waste products and excess metabolites
and this isn’t even half of the list....
When you do not have ENOUGH water to make sure all these things are happening properly big issues can occur. In fact, a lot of root cause symptoms to many metabolic conditions can be traced back to chronic dehydration and serious lack of adequate water supply. For a deeper dive into why water is so important for our bodies and how your body signals to you it’s dehydrated - check out my youtube video: All About Water, Fluids & Hydration For Fat Loss.
The body is made up of 50 to 75% water.
Since the body can’t store water, we need fresh supplies every day to make up for losses from the lungs, skin, urine and stool. Optimal water intake is highly variable from individual to individual. The amount we need depends on our body size, metabolic rate, the weather, the food we eat and our activity levels.
Some fun facts about our internal water:
body water content is higher in men than in women and falls in both with age.
meaning, the older you get, the more water you need. Aging is a dehydrating process.
most adults lose about 2.5 to 3 L of water per day.
this amount can be increased with hot weather and intense exercise.
an air traveller can lose approximately 1.5 L of water during a three-hour flight.
ever wondered why your legs swell, face puffs and you are constipated after an airplane flight??? Now, you know - double down on that water when you fly!
In this blog post, I’ll give you some effective strategies to help you keep your water intake up, even when the temperatures drop. By implementing these tips, you can ensure your body stays well-hydrated, promoting optimal health throughout the winter months.
Winter strategies to help you reach your daily water intake goals
Front Load Your Water:
Start early. Begin your day with a tall glass of water. Your body loses fluids overnight through breathing and metabolic processes, making it crucial to rehydrate first thing in the morning. Aim for at least 16 ounces when you wake up before coffee to kickstart your daily water intake. Front loading your intake can also help minimize the need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night because you won’t have to drink a lot of fluids too close to bedtime.
Set Hourly Goals:
Break down your water consumption into manageable hourly goals. Aim to drink a specific amount of water each hour, creating a routine that helps you stay on track. Consider using a water bottle with hourly markers to make monitoring your progress easier. I typically recommend 20 oz every two hours as a helpful starting goal range. For example here’s a typical schedule I follow:
6:00AM: 16 oz water before coffee
7:00AM: 8 oz water
BAM 24 oz before you even head out the door for the day
8:30AM: 16 oz water
10:00AM: 8 oz water
Make sure to fill your water bottle before leaving the house
11:15AM: 16 oz water
12:30PM: 8 oz water
If you need to pee more often than every ~2ish hours, try adding in some minerals
1:00PM: 10 oz water
3:30PM: 10 oz water
At the home stretch, just a glass with dinner and you’re done!
5:00PM: 8 oz water
Keep It Room Temp:
In cold weather, the idea of chugging icy water may be less appealing. Opt for room temperature or warm water. This can make it easier to meet your hydration goals, especially during the colder parts of the day. You can leave a pitcher of filtered water on your kitchen counter or work desk to make perfect temp water easily accessible during the day. If you’re a fan of warm water, you can add citrus fruits, berries, mint leaves, rosemary, or even cinnamon sticks to enhance the flavor and make it a ~vibe~.
Herbal Infusions and Teas:
Add variety to your hydration routine by incorporating herbal infusions and teas. Not only do they contribute to your fluid intake, but they also offer warmth and flavor. Experiment with different blends to find what suits your taste. Be sure you purchase tea boxes that are caffeine-free to avoid overdoing it with your caffeine intake, especially if you’re a loyal coffee drinker. The awesome part about herbal teas is they are also highly therapeutic and have been used for centuries for their health benefits, so you can utilize them as part of your personalized health protocol to target specific body system support and/or symptom management. Here are a few examples of my favorites:
GI/Digestion: mucilaginous (marshmallow root, slippery elm, licorice root, fenugreek, aloe vera, etc.) & carminative (cumin, fennel, cardamon, coriander, star anise, ginger, peppermint) herbs help soothe inflamed GI tissue and dispel gas or bloating.
Respiratory/Lung Support: soothing and supporting the breath portals is all about creating movement flow, protecting against infections & breaking down mucus. Thyme is antimicrobial, helps to reduce coughing and may have bronchodilator effects, which can aid in easier breathing. Eucalyptus contains compounds, like cineole, which can help break down mucus and make it easier to expel.
Detox/Hair Growth/Skin Complexion: herbs, such as dandelion root, have diuretic properties that can help clear accumulated by-products and cellular debris from your detox portals (liver, kidney, lymph, skin, lungs), which can contribute to clearer, less congested skin. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, particularly catechins and nettle tea is rich in vitamins and minerals, like iron and vitamin C - both can help protect against skin damage caused by free radicals and boost complexion. Rosemary can potentially stimulate circulation to the scalp, which can promote hair growth and reduce hair thinning and Burdock root contains compounds that may reduce dandruff and improve hair texture.
Set reminders on your phone or use a hydration app to prompt you to drink water throughout the day. Having these reminders can be especially helpful when distractions or the winter blues might lead you to forget about your water intake. Set alarms for every 3-4 hours to help you check in with your hydration status and intake pace throughout the day. You can also put sticky notes on your desktop, office, car or around your home to serve as written reminders.
Consume water-rich foods as snacks. Vegetables like cucumber and celery, as well as fruits like watermelon and oranges, can contribute to your overall hydration. Plus, they provide essential nutrients. Oranges also are high in vitamin C, which acts as a powerful antioxidant, helping to protect our cells from damage and supporting the production of white blood cells, which are crucial for fighting off infections. Regular intake of Vitamin C-rich foods can help reduce the duration and severity of colds and flu.
Optimize Mealtime Hydration:
Make it a habit to drink water before, during, and after meals. This not only supports digestion but also ensures that you consistently work toward your daily water goal. Meals serve as an easy cue because you are already engaged in the activity; this concept is known as 'habit stacking.' However, be mindful if you are currently experiencing ongoing gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as reflux, disrupted appetite patterns, nausea, or bloating. Drinking water around mealtime may not be the best option for you, as most of these symptoms are stomach volume dependent and can be exacerbated with excess fluid intake. Monitor your reaction patterns and discuss potential alternatives with your healthcare provider before making any changes.
Fancy cups, insulated water bottles, portion perception & empty space illusions:
Visual cues can have a significant impact on your behavior. The size and appearance of plates and cups can influences how much people think they've consumed, as well as their subjective feelings of satisfaction and motivation. When it comes to plates + food intake, larger sizes can actually push people to overeat and this is a heavily studied area of research for weight management. With cup sizes, we can see a similar phenomenon that can be used to our benefit. Larger cup sizes can create a visual expectation of individuals feeling thirstier. The Delboeuf illusion, is an optical illusion in which the perceived size of a central object is influenced by the size of the surrounding context, meaning a larger cup might make the amount of liquid inside appear smaller, leading individuals to consume more to satisfy their perceived thirst. So, investing in a quality 32-40 oz insulated water bottle is not only convenient to make sure you always have water on-the-go, but also has some scientific merit to it.
Another way to engage your motivation to drink is to opt for cool, fancy or colorful cups/mugs to make it a more fun experience to drink out of. This can subconsciously spark your desire to drink more. For example, if I'm at home sometimes I'll drink water with some flavor enhancer in a wine glass while I'm unwinding for the day. Or, around the holidays I'm always using a themed mug for nightly teas, which makes it more aesthetic and fun to participate in my hydration routine.
My fave water flavor brands that have high quality ingredients and no sugar alcohols or dyes are:
H2O Wow Water Enhancer Drops
Staying hydrated in winter doesn't have to be a daunting task. By implementing these strategies and making water consumption a conscious part of your routine, you can easily reach and maintain a daily intake of 80-100 ounces. Remember, consistent hydration is a key component of overall health, providing benefits that extend beyond the winter season.