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Is It Possible To Drink TOO Much Water?

by jenny sansouci on January 3, 2015

Hey peeps. Serious stuff is afoot.

The other day I posted about my hydration challenge to drink 3 liters of water per day for the whole month of January. I’ve been doing it for a few days (actually, I’ve been “practicing” it since Christmas), and I have noticed feeling so much clearer and much more naturally energized than I did before. I also feel like my skin already looks a lot better than it was looking over the holidays – less dry and less tired. The only negative side effect I’ve felt is waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom if I end up drinking water before bed.

Since I posted the blog, I’ve had quite a few messages about the danger of drinking too much water, with many people questioning whether or not 3 liters is a dangerous amount for most people. I figured I should address this.

A few people were curious – how did I choose to drink 3 liters (102 ounces) per day?

The reason I chose 3 liters of water per day for my challenge is because:

  • The “normal” recommended amount that we’ve all heard about for our whole lives (8 glasses per day) is 64oz, or almost 2 liters (2 liters is 68oz). 1 extra liter above that, to me, sounded harmless.
  • 3 liters is just enough to feel challenging for me (meaning: I have to actually make a point to drink water), but not enough that it’s making me feel overly full or sick.
  • The water bottle I use is 27 ounces, and to fill it 4x throughout an entire day doesn’t seem like that big of a deal (to me).
  • I read an article last year about a woman drinking 3 liters of water per day to cure her headaches and her digestive issues, and she felt amazing and said it “took 10 years off her face”, so I was inspired to try it.
  • Last year I did a stint of a couple of weeks of 3 liters of water per day and I felt totally fine.
  • At Burning Man I drank about 8 liters of water per day (I was in the desert so it was SUPER dehydrating), but I figured that 3 liters would be fine for me for normal life.

I realized after I posted the blog that I should have probably mentioned a few things:

  • If 3 liters of water per day feels like way too much for you (i.e. it makes you feel sick, you think it might be harming you, you intuitively don’t think it’s a good idea, or it lowers your overall quality of life in any way), please don’t do it.
  • If drinking 3 liters of water per day is a significant difference for you, please talk to your doctor before trying it.
  • From what I can gather, the main issue for most people when it comes to overhydrating is drinking way too much at one time, which can dilute your body’s electrolyte balance. Do not drink 3 liters of water all at once. Make sure to space out your water consumption throughout the day. You can also add electrolytes to your water if you are nervous about that – try nuun tablets. Also, do not be afraid of eating more good quality salt.

I just did some research about the “correct” amount of water to be drinking, and found the following information from these sources. Click the links to read the full articles.

    • WebMD: In general, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. If you’re living in a hot climate and exercising a lot, you’d be on the higher end of that range; if you’re in a cooler climate and mostly sedentary, you’d need less.
    • Lifehacker (Dr. Pam Brar): In a healthy adult, the kidneys can filter and excrete 15 liters of water a day. So you are unlikely to get too much water, provided you don’t drink an enormous amount at one time. Just remember to pay attention to thirst cues, try to anticipate when activities or the weather might increase your need for water, and carry water with you always. For most of us, too little water is more of a problem than too much. Drinking 15 liters of water each day would not only take quite some time but make you feel very uncomfortable.
    • Dr. Mercola: The color of your urine will help you determine whether or not you might need to drink more. As long as you are not taking riboflavin (vitamin B2; also found in most multi-vitamins), which fluoresces and turns your urine bright yellow, then your urine should be a very light-colored yellow. If it is a deep, dark yellow then you are likely not drinking enough water. If your urine is scant or if you haven’t urinated in several hours, that too is an indication that you’re not drinking enough. (Based on the results from a few different studies, a healthy person urinates on average about seven or eight times a day.)

So — is it possible to drink TOO much water?

The answer is yes.

From US News: Can You Drink Too Much Water?

“It’s rare, but yes. As much as you need water, it is possible to get too much. Having too much water in your system in relation to sodium is called hyponatremia, and it’s not actually from too much water as much as it is from an imbalance between water and electrolytes.

When you lose water (through sweating and elimination), you lose electrolytes. If you replenish your body with just water, you dilute the electrolytes that are already running low in your system. If this occurs, your interstitial sodium levels can get so low that you can actually die. It’s not extremely common, but it does happen.”

So there’s conflicting information out there and it’s really different for the individual depending on climate, activity, weight, etc. I generally believe that if your urine is clear, you are adequately hydrated.

I’m not a doctor and I don’t want to freak anyone out or make anyone do anything that sounds even remotely unsafe. So please hydrate based on what feels the best to you.

In the previous post about water I committed to donating $5 to Charity Water for every person who completed 30 days of the hydration challenge.

I personally don’t think there should be a problem with drinking 3 liters of water per day, as long as I’m sipping throughout the day and not chugging all at once, so I’m going to continue to drink 3 liters of water per day. But because of the concerns people seem to be having, I will honor my $5 donation to Charity Water for people who drink 2 liters of water per day (68 oz) for 30 days as well.

I haven’t read anything that cautions against any person drinking 68oz of water per day. Let me know if you hear otherwise.

As far as timing, I will submit the $5 donation for anyone who completes their 30 day hydration challenge by the end of February. In order for me to donate the $5 on your behalf, you must leave a comment on this blog post when your challenge is finished.

Wow, friends, blogging about water is NO JOKE! Who knew? At the end of the day, the point of this is for you to feel GOOD. If it doesn’t, stop.

Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns or input – and happy hydrating!

Love,
Jenny




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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kacy January 3, 2015 at 6:18 pm

I’m so excited about this! A hot yoga teacher, so it is so important for me to stay hydrated. I usually drink 2/2.5 liters daily. Hoping the extra .5 will make a difference. I love your blog! XO

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:25 pm

Hot yoga teacher, how cool!!! Drink up!! :)

Reply

Mike January 11, 2015 at 11:24 pm

I always get a laugh when people are criticized for promoting increased consumption of healthy foods; water; fruit and veg; vitamins. It seems when it comes to healthy stuff people really try to call you for promoting it, yet these same people seem unwilling to spend as much time googling the side effects of their own eating habits.

Reply

Lindsay January 20, 2015 at 7:39 pm

Thank you for this article, Jenny! It’s so important to drink water and to be educated about all of the wonderful things it does for our bodies and brain. I drink around 4 liters per day and I am just fine :) all about balance and being aware of what works for you, just as you said!

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