How Much Water Is Too Much?

7 Aug

If I had to guess, on average, how many times I went to the bathroom during a typical work day, I’d say about 10 times. For being in the office only 8 hrs/day, that is quite frequent.

Quick heads up – if this is tmi for you, then I’d probably just stop reading now…

Anyway, that got me to thinking: how much water is too much? Is there a point when you are doing more harm than good?

Every work day (I saw work day because I am not as good about staying hydrated on the weekends) I drink about 3 Nalgenes of water. That is 96 oz. This also includes one cup of green tea and a 12 oz Americano.

Essentially, I am drinking more than my weight in lbs to oz of fluid.

Why do I drink so much? Partially out of boredom, partially because I like to walk to the kitchen and talk to people, coffee really dehydrates me and I also just feel thirsty a lot of the time.

Where am I going with this? Besides wanting to share with the world my bathroom habits, I got really curious about fluid intake and started wondering what other runners/fitness buffs thought.

Here is what I found:

  • The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.
  • Hydration needs vary based on a number of elements, including altitude, exercise level, sex, temp, etc. Check out this hydration calculator.
  • People who follow a diet high in protein (ie, the Paleo diet) may put their bodies into a state of ketosis, and that makes you very thirsty.

Based off the hydration calculator listed above, I need 60 oz of water/day. However, this didn’t take into consideration that I may be nearing ketosis and that I almost single-handedly keep Columbia’s 2nd finest import in business on a daily basis.

On the flip side, drinking too much water can be dangerous, causing water intoxication or hyponatremia – when the sodium in your blood becomes too diluted. Oddly enough, the symptoms can be almost identical to those of dehydration.

That sounds pretty extreme and probably would only happen if I drank all my 96 oz all at once. The best part about the Men’s Health article I link to above is that it says coffee is not a diuretic, which I always thought it was – score!

Now back to being productive – adult A.D.D. can be so counter-productive, yet educational all at the same time!


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