Winter + Hydration: The (Sometimes) Forgotten Duo.
Picture a bright, hot day in Summer. You decide to walk to your local coffeeshop to grab a cold brew because the weather is too good to pass up. Upon arriving at the coffeeshop, you ask for a water in addition to your cold brew because of the sweat you accumulated during the walk there.
Now picture the same scenario, except it's a windy, brisk Winter day. Upon arriving at the coffeeshop, you ask for a hot coffee instead of cold brew in order to warm up and you omit the water from the order because you didn't sweat nearly as much.
Whether we are walking, running, playing sports, exercising, we tend to not think about water as much during physical activity or just throughout our days in the Winter. The reason for this is obvious...we don't sweat as much in the Winter! But that does not mean we should forget about water intake.
How the body loses water.
One of the most obvious ways the body loses fluids is through urination, this is well-known. However, there is also something called "insensible water loss" which is water lost throughout the day that is difficult to measure. Forms of insensible water loss include:
Experts have found we lose an average of 40-800 milliliters per day through insensible water loss. Thats up to 3.4 additional cups per day! Although sweat may decrease in the Winter, all 3 forms of insensible water loss still occur during the chilly season.
Water's uses in the body.
Water is truly the basis of all life. It is what makes Earth an inhabitable planet for humans (that and the perfect balance of elements in the air at all times). It accounts for nearly 60% of an adult human's body weight and is involved in nearly every process in the body, including immune function. Without water, the body is not as efficient at delivering nutrients through the blood which means certain systems struggle to operate.
It is comparable to slow wifi (and we all know how annoying that can be). Slow data transfer to your computer through wifi signals means your web pages take longer to load and your work is less efficient.
The same thing happens in the body when we are not properly hydrating except the data is micronutrients and the web pages are processes like metabolism, immune function, and heat production.
Tips for hydrating in the Winter.
There are plenty of simple habits you can start to build into your daily routine in order to make sure you are hydrating not only in Winter, but year round. If these are new to you, start with one at a time. Try it for a couple weeks until it becomes habit then move onto the next one. Here are a few:
Start your day with 2 big glasses of water. Right when you wake up, go to your kitchen and chug 2 big ol' glasses of water. This will kickstart your metabolism, get your blood flowing after a good nights rest, and wake up that smart brain of yours. It also ensures you start the day on a good note, knocking out 2 glasses of water from your daily water goal right away.
Carry a water bottle with you at all times. Your water bottle is your best friend. You cannot live without your water bottle. These are the thoughts that will help keep that water bottle by your side at all times. Of course, the second part of this tip is to keep that bottle full (its no good keeping it next to you if it's empty). So right after you chug those 2 glasses of water, fill up your bottle for the first part of your day.
Drink 20 ounces of water per hour of exercise. Even though you aren't sweating as much in the Winter (or maybe you are because you are an absolute animal who tries their hardest in every workout), this is still a good rule of thumb to follow. This doesn't mean max 20 oz though, if you are thirstier then by all means, drink more water!
Have a glass of water with every meal. This will not only help keep you hydrated, but also aid in the digestion process. So instead of asking for that diet soda next time you go out to eat, ask for a nice cold glass of water.
Yes, it is cold outside. Yes, there is water all around us in the form of snow. But don't neglect your body's need for water despite these things. Water is the foundation for all life, give it the attention and respect it deserves. For more tips and to learn more about hydration, take a look at our Nutrition Basics Guide below!
Braeden Yacobucci, RDN/RD, LD, CF-OL1
Cara Barton, OTR/L, PN1, CF-L1
McNeil-Masuka J, Boyer TJ. Insensible Fluid Loss. [Updated 2021 Jul 31]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544219/