Written by Alice Barraclough for Stylist.co.uk
As far as drinks go, water is pretty boring. It doesn’t really taste of anything, and there’s no secret family recipe to love. Yet, we all know that we have to drink enough water.
I recently jumped on the hydration trend and challenged myself to drink eight glasses of water a day. And I seriously struggled. So, in a continued effort to drink more water – because, we all know that being hydrated is the symbol of a truly successful person – I decided to gather some simple, expert-approved pointers to help quench my thirst.
“It’s no revelation that being well hydrated is critical for health and performance,” says performance nutritionist Kate Shilland, MSc, ANutr. “Every cell, tissue and organ in the body relies on water to work properly; without sufficient water, bodily functions are compromised. In fact, as little as 2% dehydration can negatively impact how we feel and perform, both physically and mentally.”
Not only does water transport nutrients, regulate body temperature and support the structure of cells, it also gives you glowing skin, bright eyes and bags of energy. It’s true, people can survive for only three or four days without water. Yet 45% of us aren’t drinking the daily recommended amount of fluid, according to hydration brand ViDrate.
“Your body gives you many warning signs that you are dehydrated, besides the obvious feeling thirsty,” says ViDrate founder Nick Hird. “Feeling tired more than usual, finding it difficult to concentrate on everyday tasks, persistent bad breath, constipation and bad skin are all signs that you aren’t drinking enough water.”
According to Shilland, “The best way of checking you’re drinking enough is to routinely keep an eye on the colour of your urine, aiming for light straw colour.”
In need of a top up? Here are some easy ways to increase your water intake without too much struggle.
1. PLAN AHEAD
It might seem obvious but carrying around a water bottle with you will help to motivate you to sip all day long.
“Always keep a water bottle in your bag, car or at your desk so you always have a drink close to hand, before the thirst goes away,” suggests Shilland.
It’s about creating habits and mental triggers: “Place a water bottle or glass of water next to something that you routinely do – for example: cleaning teeth or boiling the kettle,” she says.
You can even buy motivational water bottles with inspirational messages down the side, such as “11 am – Remember your goal” and “1 pm – Keep chugging”.
2. ADD FRUIT
“Plain water can be quite unappealing so try adding some slices of orange, lemon, cucumber or fresh mint to your bottle,” says Shilland.
Family GP Dr Ellie Cannon agrees: “Add a zingy lemony twist to your water to jazz up the taste and maximise the bountiful health benefits. Lemons are a great source of vitamin C which is essential for the immune system, fights against coughs and colds, and helps to prevent disease.”
Water bottles with built-in infusers – a little basket to fill up with cucumber or lemon – are perfect for flavouring on the go.
3. MAKE IT FIZZY
Sparkling water has exploded in recent years – with more of us looking for refreshing alternatives to fizzy drinks like Coca Cola and Lemonade. The best news? “Fizzy water also counts towards your daily water goal and can feel a bit more appealing – I have clients who drink much more water when they drink fizzy water from a nice wine glass,” says Shilland.
If you don’t want to buy endless plastic bottles of sparkling water, think about investing in something like SodaStream's sparkling water maker, which takes your tap water from flat to fizzed.
4. SET A REMINDER
If you need regular reminders to drink more water – either set an alarm on your phone, wearable or download an app like The Hydro Coach, which allows you to set your target intake, or use the app’s calculator to determine an appropriate daily goal. “Just like a Garmin tells you to move every now and then, set a water alert too,” suggests Shilland.
5. SNACK ON WATERMELON
The good news is you don’t have to rely entirely on water to remain well-hydrated.
“Adding water-rich fruit and veg can be a more appealing (and nutrient rich) way to add to your daily water target,” Shilland reminds me. “Cucumber, watermelon, celery, melon, tomatoes are good things to snack on.”
6. POUR A CUPPA
We are a nation of tea drinkers – I pretty much bleed tea. Strong builder’s, dash of milk, no sugar, please. And unlike the diuretic effect of caffeine, both herbal and caffeine-containing teas are unlikely to dehydrate you. So, if you’re bored of plain water, a cup of tea can provide an interesting alternative in helping you reach your daily fluid requirements.
7. ADD A REHYDRATION TABLET
This is possibly one of the easiest ways to keep up on your hydration levels (and probably my favourite). I use both Phizz hydration tablets to flavour my water and SIS to replace any lost electrolytes after exercising.
“Keep a dioralyte or rehydration sachet in your bag so that if the day’s water drinking hasn’t quite gone to plan, you have a back up,” adds Shilland.
Remember, it’s better to drink little and often throughout the day rather than to go for hours and then down several pints, adds Shilland.
And, we’re not all equal when it comes to drinking water: “Some will need more than others depending on their size, the weather and how active they are,” says Cannon.
“It’s even different for men and women: data from the European Food Safety Authority suggests 1.6 litres for women daily, but two litres for a man. So make sure you know your body and how much water you need, tell tale signs that you haven’t had enough are dry mouth, lips and eyes, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, feeling tired and not going to the toilet frequently.”
Buy Phizz from £4.99 for 10 tablets. SHOP HERE