Drinking water throughout the day keeps your body hydrated. Water makes up more than 60 percent of your body weight and every single cell relies on it. Adequate water intake flushes toxins out of organs, keeps your body tissues moist and helps carry nutrients to cells. Once you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated and your water levels are low. Carry a bottle of water with you and one on your desk at work. You'll be less likely to reach for a sugary beverage if you have water sitting out in front of you.
The eight-by-eight rule is one of the most common water intake suggestions, because it is easy to remember. Following this rule, which suggests drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, provides slightly less fluid than you actually need. Women on average require 2.2 liters, or 9 cups, of water on a daily basis, reports MayoClinic.com. If you abide by the eight-by-eight rule, you're only getting about 1.9 liters of water. During pregnancy your water recommendation increases to 2.3 liters, or 10 cups. While breastfeeding, you need 3.1 liters of water, which amounts to about 13 cups per day.
Periods of intense activity, whether it be from exercise or a physically demanding job, require you to consume more water than normal. In these circumstances, increase your water intake by 400 to 600 milliliters, or 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups per day. If you exercise vigorously for more than an hour or take part in an activity that lasts for an extended period of time, you may need increase your fluid intake even more. If you live in a hot climate or high altitude above 8,200 feet, your water recommendation also increases, because you're prone to losing water through sweat or heavy breathing.
Not only is water essential for proper hydration, it can also help you lose weight. Drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before sitting down for a meal fills up your belly so you eat less. During preliminary research presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers explained that research participants who drank two glasses of water before eating consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories during their meal. Doing this before each of three daily meals resulted in an average weight reduction of 5 pounds by the end of the 12-week study.
Other beverages, including milk and juice, also contribute to your fluid intake. These beverages add calories and sometimes fat to your diet, but plain water sustains fluid levels without increasing your caloric intake. Soda and coffee can make up a portion of your fluid consumption; however, caffeinated beverages make you urinate more frequently. You may wind up dehydrated if you rely solely on caffeinated drinks.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.