For being such a basic part of human life, there sure is a lot of confusion around the consumption of water. To help separate fact from fiction, I’m filling you in on the truth behind some of the most common hydration myths.
Myth #1: Everyone needs eight eight-ounce cups of water every day.
The reality: The amount of fluid we need varies from person to person. To determine your individual needs, simply divide your weight (in pounds) by two. This is approximately how many ounces you should aim for as your baseline (plus another 16 to 24 ounces to replace every pound of sweat lost during exercise).
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Myth #2: Coffee and tea are dehydrating.
The reality: For years it was assumed that beverages like coffee and tea were dehydrating, but science has proven otherwise. And while caffeine itself is a diuretic, the amount of liquid in beverages like coffee or tea serves to offset caffeine’s diuretic effects.
Myth #3: Sports drinks are better than water for athletes.
The reality: A widely held belief is that sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are the best fluid options to prevent dehydration during exercise. In most cases, however, water is still the better choice, especially considering that sports drinks are typically loaded with sugar and food dyes. This is especially true for workouts lasting an hour or less.
For workouts longer than 60 to 90 minutes and/or workouts that involve large amounts of sweat loss, sports drinks can provide the advantage of providing a source of glucose as well as electrolytes. Just be mindful of the sugar! Some of my favorite sports drinks with little to moderate sugar include: Body Armor LYTE, nuun hydration electrolyte drink tabs, MyHy Active and Ultima Drink Powder.
Note: A version of this article originally appeared on WGNO.