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So you wanna get hydrated, but how will you know when you finally “arrive” at hydration station?!
For a long time the general rule was that if your pee is clear, you’re hydrated. But this rule is actually a poor indicator of proper hydration. For starters, if you’re taking in plenty of fluid — even unhealthy or sugary fluid — your urine will be diluted enough to have little or no color. This does not indicate that you are properly hydrated
Eating nutrient-dense foods like beets, carrots, berries, and certain types of beans can actually cause your urine to turn all sorts of interesting colors from orange to pink or even green! This is actually a good thing, not a bad thing, and can skew your perception of “hydration” if you’re basing it on that old-school rule of “clear urine”.
Additionally, clear urine can actually be a sign that you are potentially over-hydrating, which can mean you are flushing your system unnecessarily and making it difficult for your body to absorb the nutrients you’re eating.
THE BEST SIGN OF HYDRATION
So, let’s toss that old urine rule out the window, shall we? There’s a better way to tell if you’re properly hydrated and, not surprisingly, it also has to do with your urine. It goes like this:
A person who is properly hydrated should urinate at least every 2.5-3 hours, with a steady stream lasting at least 15-25 seconds.
And, if you are also consuming a nutrient-dense diet, that urine will likely have a bit of color to it. It should be light yellow, like a slightly watered-down lemonade (although as mentioned previously, certain foods, vitamins, and supplements could cause different hues!).
IS THE WATER ABSORBING?
And while the frequency and duration of your bathroom breaks are an excellent way to tell if you’re hydrated and taking in enough fluids, paying attention to improvements in your cognitive function and mood state is the best way to determine if the water you’re consuming is being absorbed.
And this brings us to another “wive’s tale” about hydration: you’ll know you need to drink water when you feel thirsty. The truth is, if your brain is signaling thirst, you are already suffering some of the side effects of mild dehydration. The first signs are brain fog, fatigue, and slow thinking.
If you are hydrating properly, your entire fascial system will be soaked with water, allowing your brain’s messages to transmit faster (water transmits electricity and our brain’s message are electric signals!), your cellular waste to be cleared out more quickly, and all of your joints and tissues to be operating effectively thanks to proper lubrication. While I have a long list of signs of dehydration, I also want to provide you with a list of signs of proper hydration:
It’s entirely possible to drink plenty of water and be physically hydrated, but not be absorbing enough of that hydration to experience the cognitive benefits listed above. To learn more about how to hydrate properly check out my post about Optimum Hydration.
PEEING TOO FREQUENTLY
You might find that you pee significantly more than that, which is also perfectly normal, but understandably some people feel that this is a nuisance, which it certainly can be depending on your profession and schedule! However, here are a few additional things to keep in mind:
It’s also important to note that hydration isn’t about how many ounces of water you guzzle, it’s about how much water your body absorbs. If you feel like you urinate too frequently, it could be because you are consuming plenty of fluid, but not absorbing it into your body. Proper absorption of water requires a combination of water, fiber, and electrolytes along with movement to help the hydration disperse throughout all the tissue in your body. To learn more about this see my post about Optimum Hydration or check The Hydration Checklist, my 14-day online course that will help you start hydrating properly!
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