Monster Guide: How Much Water Should I be Drinking

How much water should I be drinking?

You can survive weeks without food, but only a few days without water. Our vital organs and muscles consist mostly of water, which is why it's crucial to constantly supply your body with fresh water in order to keep it properly hydrated.

Water makes up almost 85% of the brain, 80% of the body’s blood and 70% of your lean muscle tissue. 
Water is essential for proper circulation in the body. When the body is well hydrated, the levels of oxygen in the blood are greater, which enables the body to burn more fat for energy. Water is also essential for efficient use of daily body functions such as digestion and excretion, as most foods we eat are digested and then transported by water in the bloodstream. It also transports waste out of the body.

 Some facts about our internal water supply …

  • Body water content is higher in men than in women and falls in both with age
  • Most mature adults lose about 2.5 to 3 litres of water per day
  • Water loss may increase in hot weather and with prolonged exercise
  • Elderly people lose about two litres per day
  • An air traveller can lose approximately 1.5 litres of water during a three-hour flight
  • Water loss needs to be replaced



Dehydration occurs when the water content of the body is too low. This is easily fixed by increasing fluid intake. Lack of water is the number one cause of daytime fatigue – just a 2% drop in body water can trigger difficulty focusing on simple tasks and a decrease in sporting performance. Consistent failure to drink enough water can lead to Chronic Cellular Dehydration (CCD). This is when the body’s cells are never quite hydrated enough, which leaves them in a weakened state. This has an impact on the body's overall immune system and can lead to chemical, nutritional and pH imbalances that can cause disease.

Symptoms of dehydration

  • Thirst
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Mood changes and slow responses
  • Dry nasal passages
  • Dry or cracked lips
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion and hallucinations
dehydration image source:

If dehydration is not corrected by fluid intake, eventually urination stops, the kidneys fail and the body can’t remove toxic waste products. In extreme cases, dehydration may result in death.

Causes of dehydration

There are several factors that can cause dehydration including:

  • Not drinking enough water
  • Increased sweating due to hot weather, humidity, exercise or fever
  • Insufficient signalling mechanisms in the elderly – sometimes, they do not feel thirsty even though they may be dehydrated
  • Increased output of urine due to a hormone deficiency, diabetes, kidney disease or medications
  • Diarrhoea or vomiting
  • Recovering from burns


How much water should I be drinking?

Water consumption will vary depending on each individual. Diet, lifestyle and energy expenditure will all have an effect on the amount of water the body requires. There are, however, some basic recommendations for daily adequate fluid intake which are shown below in litres per day.

  • Infants 0-6 months – 0.7 (from breastmilk or formula)
  • Infants 7-12 months – 0.9 (from breastmilk, formula and other foods and drinks)
  • Children 1-3 years – 1.0 (about 4 cups)
  • Children 4-8 years – 1.2 (about 5 cups)
  • Girls 9-13 years – 1.4 (about 5-6 cups)
  • Boys 9-13 years – 1.6 (about 6 cups)
  • Girls 14-18 years – 1.6 (about 6 cups)
  • Boys 14-18 years – 1.9 (about 7-8 cups)
  • Women – 2.1 (about 8 cups)
  • Men – 2.6 (about 10 cups).

These adequate intakes include all fluids, but it is preferable that the majority of intake is from plain water (except for infants where fluid intake is met by breastmilk or infant formula).
Sedentary people, people in cold environments, or people who eat a lot of high-water content foods (such as fruits and vegetables), may need less water.


Isotonic/carb sports drinks

Sports drinks are beverages that are specially formulated to help people rehydrate during or after exercise. They are usually rich in carbohydrates as they are the most efficient source of energy. 
As well as carbs, which are important in maintaining exercise and sport performance, sports drinks usually contain sweeteners and preservatives.

Sports drinks also contain electrolytes (such as chloride, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium) which, along with body fluids, diminish as you exercise and sweat. 
Replacing the electrolytes lost during training promotes proper rehydration, which is important in delaying the onset of fatigue during exercise.

There are three main types of sports drinks available, all of which contain various levels of fluid, electrolytes and carbohydrate.



Isotonic drinks contains similar concentrations of salt and sugar as in the human body. They:

  • Quickly replace fluids lost through sweating and supply a boost of carbohydrate
  • Are the preferred choice for most athletes, including middle and long-distance running or those involved in team sports
  • Come in many branded forms. The most common isotonic drink in the UK is Lucozade Sport 



Hypertonic drinks contain a higher concentration of salt and sugar than the human body. They:

  • Are normally consumed post-workout to supplement daily carbohydrate intake and top-up muscle glycogen stores
  • Can be taken during ultra distance events to meet the high energy demands, but must be used in conjunction with isotonic drinks to replace lost fluids.



Hypotonic drinks contain a lower concentration of salt and sugar than the human body. They:

  • Quickly replace fluids lost by sweating
  • Are suitable for athletes who require fluid without a carbohydrate boost, e.g. gymnasts

Most sports drinks are moderately isotonic, containing between 4 and 5 heaped teaspoons of sugar per five ounce (13 and 19 grams per 250ml) serving.

 Here are two simple recipes to make your own isotonic sports drink:

·  200ml ordinary fruit squash·  800ml water·  A pinch of salt


Mix them all together in a jug and cool down in fridge.


·  500ml unsweetened fruit juice (orange, apple, pineapple)

·  500ml water


Mix them all together in a jug and cool down in fridge.


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