Water Consumption: Separate Fact from Fiction

Water Consumption: Separate Fact from Fiction

Americans love their water. According to the International Bottled Water Association, U.S. consumers gulped down 10.9 billion gallons of the bottled beverage in 2014. Experts predict bottled water will be the number one selling packaged drink on the market by 2016. Our reasons for drinking water vary—from moving to a lower calorie diet to staying refreshed and hydrated—but most of us have one thing in common: we’re sometimes confused about when, how much and what type of water to drink.

Fiction: You should drink eight glasses of water every day.

Fact: Actually, to stay healthy, you need to consume about eight cups of fluid every day—water or otherwise. Coffee, iced tea and juices count. So do fruits and veggies with high water content such as lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon and grapes. Depending on your diet, you may get enough fluid without drinking a single glass of water.

Fiction: You only need to drink water when you are thirsty.

Fact: When the weather is mild, you might be able to judge your need for water based on thirst alone. But when the temperature rises—or if you’ve been particularly active—you may dehydrate faster than your body realizes. If it’s hot outside or you’re exercising, it’s always a good idea to drink extra fluid.

Fiction: Water helps you lose weight.

Fact: If you consistently replace sugared soft drinks and other caloric beverages with zero calorie water, you may lose weight. Additionally, filling up on water before a meal can help you eat less of whatever is on your plate. However, water does not speed up your metabolism or cause you to burn more calories.

Fiction: Water gives you more energy.

Fact: Water has zero calories, offering nothing for your body to burn as energy. However, dehydration can make you feel sluggish and tired. If you’ve hit a mid-morning or mid-afternoon slump, drinking water to rehydrate may refresh you as a result.

Fiction: Sports drinks are better than water when exercising.

Fact: In most cases, water is actually better for you than a sports drink as they often have unneeded calories, sugar and salt. If you’re working out at a moderate pace for a moderate amount of time, water is all you really need. However, an intense workout—or exercise that lasts more than an hour—may call for a sports drink to help keep your electrolytes balanced.

Fiction: Bottled water is always better than tap water.

Fact: Sure, bottled water can be convenient. Depending on where you live, it may also taste better than your local tap water. However, that does not mean it’s any healthier. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates U.S. tap water and tests it frequently, publically reporting the results. The Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water, and does not require manufacturers to tell consumers where it came from or what contaminants it may contain.

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