Hydration is perhaps one of the most overlooked components of nutrition. In fact, according to the CDC, less than 25% of Americans consume the standard 8 cups of water per day (1). Staying hydrated plays a huge role in health, especially for people living with Type 2 Diabetes. It can be especially difficult to stay hydrated when you are busy at work. If you are one of the majority who struggle to drink enough water throughout the day, you are in the right place!
In this article, we will discuss why it is important to stay hydrated, how to know if you are dehydrated, and helpful tips for staying hydrated at work.
Table of Contents
Why is it important to stay hydrated?
The human body is about 60% water, with the brain being up to 75% water (2). Needless to say, hydration is essential to optimal health and feeling your best. Here are some of the top ways that hydration improves your health and wellbeing.
Hydration and Diabetes
For someone with diabetes, hydration is uniquely important for managing blood sugar. If you are dehydrated, the volume of your blood is decreased, making the sugar more concentrated.
One complication of dehydration is something called hyperosmolar hyperglycemic non-ketoacidosis (HHNK). This happens most commonly in older adults who do not have their blood sugar under control (3).
When the blood sugar is extremely elevated, during an infection for example, your kidneys kick in and try to excrete the excess sugar. Along with the sugar, you also lose a lot of fluid, which can lead to severe dehydration.
This, in turn, makes your blood sugar concentration even higher. So you can see how it would be easy to get into the vicious cycle of dehydration and elevated blood sugar.
Electrolytes play many important roles in health, including helping you utilize the nutrients that you are consuming and making sure that your major organs are functioning the way they should.
However, these processes are going to work best if your electrolytes are present in appropriate amounts. One of the major causes of electrolyte imbalance is dehydration. If you are not taking in enough fluids, this can upset the delicate balance within your blood and your cells (5).
Ability to Concentrate
Do you ever find yourself dozing off at work or experiencing an afternoon slump? Water intake can help fight fatigue and keep you feeling energized throughout the day (8).
Of course, there are many other reasons you may be feeling tired, but proper hydration is a good first step to getting your energy back.
Headaches can also be an unfortunate killer of productivity at work. Inadequate water intake has been connected to headaches in some people (9). Instead of immediately reaching for your painkillers to treat a headache, try drinking a glass of water first.
Signs of Dehydration
- Increased thirst
- Infrequent urination or low urine output
- Dark yellow urine
- Dry mouth, skin, or nasal passages
- Lack of tears
- Increased heart rate
- Confusion, dizziness, or lightheadedness
How much water do you need?
Fluid needs vary greatly from person to person, depending on your weight, your activity level, and your environment. However, there are some standardized equations that attempt to estimate your hydration needs.
Below are some of the common methods of calculating your water needs. If you do the calculations, you may notice that the results can vary significantly between equations. I would try not to get too caught up in the numbers.
One option is to calculate your needs using all three of the equations and take the average. For example, if option 1 comes out to 80oz, option 2 is 64oz, and option 3 is 74oz, you can take the average of all three. This comes out to about 72oz per day.
Take half of your weight in pounds. This is the number of ounces you should consume per day.
If you weigh 160 pounds, you would divide 160 by 2.
160 / 2 = 80
Fluid needs = 80oz.
1 milliliter per calorie (based on your calculated calorie needs, not the amount you actually consume)
You can calculate your calorie needs here. Use the result that is closest to your physical activity level using the chart to the right of the calculator.
If your calorie needs come out to 1900 calories, your fluid needs are 1900mL per day.
1900mL = ~64oz
30 milliliters per kilogram of weight
If your weight is 160 pounds, convert that to kilograms.
160 pounds = 72.6kg
72.6kg x 30 = 2178mL
2178mL = ~74oz
Tips for staying hydrated at work
Keep Water at Your Desk
Try to make it a habit to keep a full water bottle at your desk. Of course, this does not guarantee that you will drink more water, but it is a whole lot easier to stay hydrated if the water is sitting right next to you all day.
If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy the experience of drinking water, try purchasing one of the bottles featured at the end of this article to make staying hydrated more enjoyable.
Leave Yourself Reminders
It is easy to get into the groove of your work day, and then all of the sudden it’s 5 o’clock and you haven’t had anything to drink.
Schedule in hydration breaks, set alarms on your phone, or leave yourself sticky notes; do whatever it takes to keep hydration at the top of mind throughout the day. It may seem silly, but sticky notes can work wonders!
Choose Hydrating Snacks
Not all fluid intake has to come from plain water. Choose hydrating snacks that have a high water content – such as cucumbers, melons, or tomatoes – to increase your hydration while at work (4).
Avoid Caffeinated or Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
This one is tricky for a lot of people, but it is key to maintaining proper hydration. Caffeine is what we call a diuretic, or a substance that makes you urinate more often. This causes your body to lose a lot of fluid, increasing dehydration.
I understand that most people are not going to give up their morning cup of coffee. But try to stick to just the one cup, and make sure to replenish the fluids that you are losing with a non-caffeinated food or beverage.
One of the worst things you can do for your hydration is to consume sugar-sweetened beverages. For someone with diabetes, this is going to quickly and significantly raise your blood sugar.
Your body’s response to increased blood sugar is often to flush out the extra sugar through your urine. This causes you to lose more fluid and feel more thirsty.
Water doesn’t have to be boring! Try adding flavor to your water by infusing fruits or vegetables like lemon or orange slices, strawberries, or cucumbers. Get creative and try different combinations of ingredients to see what you like best.
Another option to make water more interesting is to add sugar-free flavoring, such as Crystal Light or Mio. Although these contain artificial sweeteners, they are much better for your blood glucose than white sugar and are fine to use in moderation.
Track Your Intake and Reward Yourself
If you are competitive or need an incentive to help you reach your hydration goals, try tracking your intake and rewarding yourself if you meet your daily, weekly, or monthly goals.
For example, you could decide to treat yourself with a massage or a nice dinner if you successfully drink 64 oz of water at least 20 days out of the month. Or whatever your unique goal is. Try using one of these awesome printable habit trackers suggested by Develop Good Habits.
Drink in the Morning
Start off your day on a good note by making it a habit to drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up. Not only are you replenishing some of the fluid lost overnight, but you are also getting a head start on your hydration goals for the day.
To help you stay on track, try drinking at least an 8oz glass of water when you wake up, with each meal, and before bed. That way you automatically have 40 oz of water for the day without even trying very hard.
Products to help you stay hydrated at work
Sometimes, no matter what tricks and tips you try or goals you set, it can still be difficult to stay hydrated at work. Try one of the products below to give you a leg up and encourage water intake.
Hydromate is a US-based company that produces water bottles to help encourage you to stay hydrated. You can buy them in a range of sizes (32oz, 64oz, 128oz) or materials (plastic or glass).
My favorite feature of this brand is the bottles have hourly intake targets printed on the side with encouragement to keep going. I personally purchased a 32oz glass bottle, and I love it! It helps me stay on track with my hydration throughout the day.
If you are interested in making a purchase from HydroMate, use the promo code Friend15 for 15% off of your purchase.
Another option that I have personally tried and enjoyed is Cirkul flavor cartridges. This company produces favored cartridges that you can use to add interest to your water intake.
With each cartridge, you can choose the flavor and the intensity of the flavor. For example, you can try apple flavoring on level “zero” to add just a hint of flavor, or you can dial it up to 10 for a more intense apple experience.
Check out the wide variety of Cirkul products here! (This is an affiliate link, meaning I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you choose to make a purchase using this link.)
If you want a more high tech option, HidrateSpark water bottles remind you to drink more water by lighting up. You can also monitor your fluid intake with this option by syncing your bottle to your smartphone using an app.
I have not personally tried this brand, but I have heard great things about it. This option does require a bigger budget, but if you are open to spending a bit more, this could be a great encouragement to stay hydrated at work.
Keeping hydrated can help with your mood, workplace productivity, and more. Additionally, hydration is especially important for people living with diabetes to help keep your blood sugars under control.
Whether you are one of the minority of Americans who are already consuming adequate water or you have lots of room for improvement, these helpful tips can give you some new ideas for staying hydrated while at work.
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