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The average woman needs 2.2 litres of water a day. Sure, some of that can come from things like soup, milk, coffee or watery fruits and veggies, but most of us need to drink more pure water, and less sugary beverages. Water comes cheap, calorie-free and it's absolutely essential for our health. We talked to the experts about some smart ways to help us increase our water intake and ensure we're staying hydrated.
1. Keep it cold
"Research has shown that the palatability of cold water is 50 percent more than drinking warm water or room temperature water," says Dr. Heather Sprenger, physiologist at the Canadian Sport Institute and spokesperson for Strauss Water Canada. "If someone is choosing a sugary beverage, it may be because it's colder."
2. Customize your intake
Everyone knows the rule of eight glasses a day, but the water consumption that's right for one person might leave another person dehydrated. When you account for how much to drink in the day, consider how much you exercise (the more you move, the more fluid you lose through sweat and breath) and the weather outside (drinking cold water helps reduce your core temperature in the heat, and if it's humid, you're likely to sweat more).
3. Skip sugary sports drinks
If you're having trouble losing weight, it could be because you down a sugary sports drink every time you go to the gym, says Matt Nichol, a strength and conditioning coach. Nichol is the founder of Biosteel, a sports drink that's sweetened with calorie-free stevia and coloured with beets. He says we overestimate the calories we burn through exercise, then undermine that exercise by sucking back sugar-filled fluids. Dr. Sprenger agrees, saying that you shouldn't need any extra carbohydrates for fitness unless your workout is more than an hour long.
4. Fuel yourself with food, not fluids
Liquid calories don't have the same satiating impact as solid ones, so when you drink high-energy beverages, chances are you're overconsuming calories throughout the day. Try drinking water or other sugar-free beverages instead of high-calorie drinks. If you're working out, you can get electrolytes through salty foods (such as crackers) and get carbs through fruits like bananas and dates, which have fibre to keep you satisfied.
5. Infuse your water
Can't seem to part with sweet drinks? Try infusing your water with fruits or veggies to give it a hint of fresh flavour. Berries, lemon, cucumber and mint all make great flavour-infusing additions to a cold glass of H20.
6. Don't just use exercise as a cue to drink
"Even if I'm not working out and I'm just standing outside coaching in the heat, the amount of fluid I lose through my sweat is amazing," says Nichol. "Some people really do underestimate how much they need to rehydrate."
7. Drink between meals
Many of us don't think to pour ourselves a drink until we sit down to eat, but Nichol actually encourages his athletes (and everyone) to drink only a bit during meals, then as much as they can in between meals. "You don't want to drink too much liquid during meals. It dilutes the acid that helps us digest our food. But you want to constantly be drinking between meals," he says. This strategy has the added benefit of helping you feel full between meals.