I have a love/hate relationship with water. Yes, I know it is good for you and your body needs it to function at its peak, but it can be boring to drink. One or two liters of water seem possible, but close to 4 liters in one day may seem like a tall and intimidating task to most.
My journey with the gallon a day started a few years ago when I was training for an obstacle course race with a friend. Since the race was to be done in Florida mid summer, we were expecting to sweat a lot. In preparation for this event, we decided to try the “Gallon a day for 30-day” challenge I had seen online weeks prior. Now, I am not an internet fad type of guy, but I saw this particular challenge beneficial for my current situation. After doing some of my research on the safety of this challenge, we decided to go for it. The big question was, how was I ever to finish a gallon of water a day 30 times? After using a few Jedi mind tricks, that I will discuss later, I was able to finish 26 out of 30 days, falling short on only 4 days.
The first week was an adjustment, with the frequent trips to the bathroom. After my body made that adjustment, I will say the pros far outweighed that one con.
While I am no longer participating in the “Gallon a day for 30-day” challenge, this Is a health habit I have kept close to me since then. I aim to drink a gallon of water a day, sometimes I am a few ounces short, and sometimes I go well over. Below are eight reasons you should aim to hit that gallon mark.
1. Your body needs it.
The adult body is made up of 60% water, so it is safe to say that water is the most important nutrient in for the body. About two thirds of the water in your body is inside cells (intracellular) to help them function, the other one third is disturbed out side the cells (extracellular) in brain, spinal cord, small and large intestines and other body tissue. An individual can go for an extended period of time without food, however without water an individual can last only a few days.
2. It makes you hit the recommended amount
According to the food and nutrition board, an adult male should drink a minimum of 3 liters a day, while females should drink 2.2 liters a day. I do agree that these should be the bare minimum for all, but factors such as body composition (height, weight) activity level, sweat rate and climate are not taken into consideration. Since healthy individuals have the ability to maintain a proper water balance by excreting excess water, one gallon a day is a surefire way to stay properly hydrated while taking all internal and external factors into account.
3. How much can you eat?
Your stomach adapts to your eating pattern. When you eat or drink a lot at one time, it expands to accommodate what you just put in your body. It is a fact that most Americans overeat and portions are sized to feed Shaq. Drinking a nice 16-24 ounces of water with your meal should leave your stomach just enough space to eat the correct portion size. The purpose of eating is for energy, not to get full, and water will help you not to over eat while keeping portions sizes closer the correct.
4. Are you really hungry?
Most of the time we mistake our bodies thirsty feeling for a hungry feeling. Forcing you to take in extra calories at times when they are not really needed. When you start drinking your gallon of water, there will be no confusion of hunger or thirst because you will always be hydrated.
5. Save the Kidney
The kidney is the key organ of water homeostasis and the removal of toxins. When you don’t drink enough water, your kidneys cling to any little bit of water they can get by concentrating urine, this makes urine darker amber sometimes with a pale smell. Studies show that the kidney handles fluid excess better then fluid deficit (Mack,2010). Aim for urine to be pale yellow or lemonade colored.
6. Skin benefits
With your skin being close to 30% water, don’t expect any wrinkles you have to disappear, but the plumpness and elasticity of your skin will increase resulting in a nice clearer complexion, less oily and more moisturized skin.
7. You drink close to/ if not a gallon of liquid a day anyways.
Two or three glasses of beer or wine at happy hour, soda or juice with your food, two cups of coffee in the morning (20oz is 2 cups, and I am guilty of that). All those drinks I mentioned is close to 60oz of liquid combine, put it down and pick up the water.
8. Replace liquids lost during your workout.
In most cases Gatorade is not necessary and other sports drinks are not necessary. There must be a good water and sodium balance in the body to maintain hydration. Sodium loss is mostly affected by sweat rate. In long duration events where sweat is steady for over 90 minutes or in extreme heat is when you should reach for a sports performance drink. In workout class or sporting events lasting less then 90 minutes, water is sufficient because sodium will be replaced during meals.
For the next 30 days, I challenge you to drink a gallon of water a day and see what affect it has on your body. A few tricks I used to conquer this 128oz mountain was to break it down into manageable goals. I started by drink and refill a 16 ounces bottle 8 times a day. About every hour to 90 minutes, I drank my 16oz. Once I got confortable then, I moved up to drink and refill a 32 ounces bottle four times a day. The last trick that helped me the most was making a water sangria (NO ALCOHOL). I always put fresh squeezed lemons in my water, sometimes I will add limes, cucumbers or watermelon to add a different flavor to it. Now I am a professional and I carry a gallon jug around with me most of the time.
Powers, Scott, and Edward Howley. Exercise physiology: Theory and application to fitness and performance. 8th. New York: McGraw-Hil, 2012. Print
Tack, Ivan. “Effects of Water Consumption on Kidney Function and Excretion.” Nutrition Today 45.Supplement (2010): n. pag. Web.
Popkin, Barry, Kristen D’Anci, and Irwin Rosenburg. “Water, Hydration and Health.” National Institute of Health, Aug. 2010.