You may have recently seen some headlines about a woman who was hospitalized from drinking too much water. Now you may be wondering “how much water do I really need?”

So let’s break it down. Water guidelines are a bit like calorie guidelines. They are just that, guidelines. Guidelines give us a sense of the ballpark to be in, but one number doesn’t work perfectly for everyone. We are all wonderfully unique.

So, here are some very general guidelines for water consumption:

– 3.7 Liters (125oz)/day (men)
– 2.7 Liters (91oz)/day (women)

But let’s keep in mind that our needs will differ by body size, activity level, location (altitude, temperature), and medications. And these general guidelines include the water in food and other beverages (even coffee!!!). While coffee is a mild diuretic, when consumed at normal levels of caffeine (about 400 mg/day)… it does not effect hydration levels.

We get approximately 20% of our water needs from food, and we also produce a small amount of water in the body as a by-product creating energy which would reduce the above guidelines to:

– 2.7 liters/day or 11.5 cups (men)
– 1.9 liters/day or 8 cups (women)


So your the personalized approach for most is two-fold:
1) Drink to thirst
2) Maintain pale yellow, not clear, urine

We get thirsty at 1-2% dehydration which is well within normal and safe limits. This mechanism is also valid for exercise up to 2 hours of intense sweating. Some people do not have as sensitive thirst mechanisms (typically the elderly), so balancing with urine color helps confirm the correct hydration status.

🎯 TL;DR: You can, in fact, consume too much water. While some general guidelines exist, there are many factors that come into play to determine the proper amount of water you need. In my opinion, most people should follow the two-fold guideline: 1) drink to thirst, and 2) maintain pale yellow urine. High-level athletes sweating continuously for more than 2 hours will need more exact hydration strategies.

If you need help figuring out how much to hydrate or any other aspect of your nutrition, contact us HERE