Monday, December 1, 2008

Hydration is Important in Cold Weather, Too!

Now that cold weather is upon us in many areas of the US, it's still just as important to stay well-hydrated. We can lose water from our bodies without noticing, particularly when we aren't sweating as much. So what are some good ways to keep the fluids coming in if you aren't crazy about drinking eight glasses of water a day?

1) Soup can make a nice and filling lunch, but there are also versions that make good snacks. Remember "cup-a-soup"? You can boil a cup of water and have some hot chicken noodle soup in just about one minute as an afternoon pick-me-up. Some of these are a bit salty. So to be most effective (and not make me thirstier later on) I hold back some of the seasoning powder--which contains most of the sodium--and just use about half of it along with all of the noodles.

2) Like the warmth of coffee but not caffeine? The sweetness of the frothy cappucino from the vending machine but not the calories? Remember decaffeinated coffee provides no caffeine and no calories, but still gives you a source of fluid. It can count as one of your glasses of water and also warm you in the wintry weather.

3) Hot tea. What a variety there is available today: It's not just plain tea anymore but hundreds (literally hundreds!) of flavors. Many come in individually wrapped packages so they're easy to carry with you and you can have a cup wherever hot water is available. Still no calories; still counts as a cup of water. My favorites: Constant Comment (a spiced orange flavor), Jasmine, Rose, Cinnamon Apple, and Caramel. You can also find mint flavors, berry flavors, lemon, even licorice!

4) Flavor your water. Just because it's cooler this time of year doesn't mean you wouldn't like a cool glass of water once in a while. If you find it too boring or tasteless, just add some flavor. Squeeze in a bit of lemon or orange; add an ounce or two of fruit juice to sweeten it, adding only 20 calories added; or use one of the zero-calorie powdered drink mixes. It all still counts towards your recommended eight glasses of water.

Wherever did the "Eight Glasses" requirement come from? The medically suggested need for appropriate hydration is based on one's size and calorie intake. In scientific language, a person is estimated to need one cc (or one milliliter) of water for each calorie they consume. An average calorie intake is 2000 (that's the level on which the daily values are based on food labels). When translating the metric 2000 milliliters to ounces, you get 66 ounces, or just over eight cups of water! So if you take in 2000 calories a day you need about eight, 8-oz cups of water. If you are larger and consume more calories and are more active you will need to adjust upwards. Likewise, if you are a smaller person and consume fewer calories you might be fine drinking just six glasses of fluid each day. Any extra you take in is easily excreted by your kidneys so unless your doctor has suggested otherwise, eight glasses is fine for everyone.

Got any great ideas for tasty hydration? Let us hear them--leave your comments here!

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