Self-experimentation, as it relates to health and wellbeing, is my jam. And as someone who deeply values the power of personalized nutrition, I’m willing to try pretty much anything to see how it affects the way I feel. While I’ve spent the last 5 years fine tuning the mix of nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods I eat to determine what allows me to feel my best (shoutout to Territory for being a huge piece of that puzzle), I hadn’t focused as much on the hydration equation.
So, when my coworker challenged me to up my water intake, I gladly accepted her proposal.
The goal: consume my body weight (in lbs ) in ounces of water every day for 10 days straight. I’m a small human, and that’s still a LOT of water for the majority of us to drink every day. I recorded my experience day-by-day, in case this is something you decide to experiment with yourself.
Why am I doing this, you might ask? Besides the fact that I rarely pass up a challenge presented to me, let’s take a look at why drinking water is amazing for us:
- Our bodies are composed of about 60% water, so we NEED it in order to survive and thrive
- Blood is 90% water, so drinking an adequate amount helps us delivery oxygen to the rest of the body
- It helps your skin stay elastic (helloooooo youthful glow!)
- It helps us regulate our body temperatures
- It aids the process of flushing out toxins in our bodies
- It preserves kidney function
- It can prevent constipation
- It keeps your joints lubricated, making you less at risk of sprains & strains
There are so many more benefits, but I’ll stop there – I think you get the point I’m making, which is that being hydrated improves almost EVERYTHING.
Earlier this year, I embarked on a month-long quest to determine if the hype around celery juice was all it was cracked up to be. To summarize my findings on that experiment, I noticed some great benefits to my skin and energy, but found that it triggered my Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Some people claim that the reason people see such “magical” results from drinking celery juice daily is merely better hydration, given celery’s high water content. As a former researcher who loves to test things, I decided to investigate: would I see the same benefits to my skin and energy from drastically increasing my daily water intake as I did consuming 16-20 oz of celery juice each morning?
For the record, prior to this experiment, I drank somewhere between 40-45 ounces of water each day – less than recommended, but likely more than the average person. I didn’t change anything else about my routine during these ten days (ie: I continued to exercise 3-5 times a week, eat at least one Territory meal a day, and prioritize sleep), so that I could attribute any changes to the increased water consumption.
And with that, let’s go!
It’s always fairly easy to be motivated on the first day of something (one of the reasons that starting new diets is so popular), so I was feeling pretty dang good the first day of my experiment. The only problem? Drinking over double the amount of water I was used to made me SO FULL. I tried sipping on my water bottle all day, and ended up short simply because that much water in my system made me feel really full and heavy. I had to chug about 32 ounces at the end of the night which, unfortunately, led to a lot of trips to the bathroom throughout the night.
Noteworthy changes: none, other than being full all the time from all the water sloshing around in my belly.
I definitely felt less full today – it’s amazing how quickly our bodies can adapt to change. I felt really hydrated, and my pee was pretty much clear. Today’s issue: I had to use the bathroom every 30 minutes or so. This was pretty annoying, especially when I was in a work meeting. That being said, I found it easier to hit my water goal today. I wanted to finish by about 7:30 pm so that I wouldn’t be up all night, and I was able to get all of my water in by 7 pm. Today’s approach was drinking 4 oz pretty quickly every half hour or so, and that worked really well for me from a consumption standpoint – not as well from a bathroom standpoint.
Noteworthy changes: clear pee, way more bathroom trips. Other than that, too soon to notice any real changes.
Today looked similar to day 2 – not hard to get my water intake, but still peeing like a madwoman. Today I drank about 32 oz during my workout, which helped me not have to drink so much the rest of the day.
Noteworthy changes: nothing different than the day before.
Ok, so today is where things started happening. First, I noticed I was actually getting thirstier, which is super weird. I would assume that being insanely hydrated would prevent thirst. Today I realized I was off the mark on that assumption. I craved water, and going even thirty minutes without any made me feel super thirsty. By now, reaching my body weight in oz was easy peasy.
Noteworthy changes: the more water I drink, the thirstier I’m getting. I also noticed today that my skin looked FRESH and dewy when I woke up. My husband said I looked like I was glowing. TBH though, sometimes I think he just says things I want to hear.
Today was the day I was like, WOW – I’m seeing some truly noticeable changes here. I felt great, had a little extra bounce in my step, and my skin looked AWESOME. At this point, I was still super thirsty all day, but thankfully did not need to pee quite as often. I also noticed my bloating going down a bit (my IBS makes me super susceptible to bloating). Day five was the point where I thought to myself, “yep, this was a fantastic idea.”
Noteworthy changes: My under-eye circles looked like they had faded a bit, my skin looked wonderful, and my bloating decreased.
This was a Saturday, and the weekend definitely proved to be more difficult because I wasn’t carrying my water bottle with me everywhere. I ended up having to chug about 16 oz at a time every few hours because of that, which was definitely less comfortable for me than sipping all day. I also had a few cocktails on Friday night, and felt dehydrated this morning, so I drank 32 oz within an hour and a half of waking up and felt WAY better!
Noteworthy changes: I normally have 1-2 cocktails or glasses of wine on one weekend evening, and never feel that bad afterwards. I was surprised how dehydrated I felt this weekend. I can only assume that my body is now more sensitive and responsive to my level of hydration, now that it recognizes what true hydration feels like.
I slept in several hours today (a Sunday) and OH BOY, I realized I missed several hours of precious water-drinking time! With my window cut short (since I also went to bed early that night), I really had to chug a lot of water that last half of the day. I’m still feeling really great!
Noteworthy changes: nothing new.
Dare I say, during days 8 and 9 I actually drank a full gallon of water! This is several oz more than my original water goal. I was constantly thirsty throughout the entire day. Truthfully, I’m a little nervous that I’m setting myself up to be constantly upping my water intake. At this rate, I’ll be drinking 4 gallons a day by the end of 2019. That being said, my skin looks great, my bloating continues to go down, so maybe it’s worth it?
Noteworthy changes: constantly thirsty.
I’m officially a slave to my water bottle – but I kinda like it.
My general conclusions from this experiment is that drinking this much water, while a slight burden, can definitely improve health and wellbeing. I experienced all the same benefits as I did drinking celery juice, but without the negative digestive symptoms. Nothing bad came from drinking more water (except, you know, all the bathroom breaks at the beginning – but never fear, my body adapted within the first week). This is a habit I definitely want to keep.
If you want to increase your energy, improve your skin, and support your digestion, give this 10-day challenge a try and see what you experience.
SOME TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED:
- Get yourself a fun, reusable water bottle. Having my nalgene made tracking my water intake WAY more manageable, plus reusable water bottles are wonderful for our planet.
- Keep said water bottle with you at all times. Anytime I forgot my water bottle, I ended up chugging water at the end of the day, leading to multiple wake-up calls throughout the night. Poor sleep = unhappy Carina.
- On that note, do yourself a favor and finish your goal water intake 2 hours or so before you go to bed. This is NOT to say don’t drink water if you are thirsty after that, but hit your goal earlier in the day so you aren’t chugging right before bed.
- Make your water fun! I don’t know about you, but I can get bored of plain water. If you’re like me and want a little variety in your day, throw some citrus wedges or a few mint leaves in your water bottle overnight. Strain them out in the morning, and voila, you have flavored water!
- Keep a record of your experience. Most of us won’t keep up with a habit unless we see tangible benefits, and the best way to notice those benefits is by documenting the process.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carina earned her Master’s degree in Nutrition from the National University of Natural Medicine and has used her education to help people improve their health through food.
Carina works as the culinary manager in DFW, partnering with our local chefs to create ready-to-eat, allergen-friendly meals. A firm believer in the idea that healthy food does not have to be boring, she aims to curate a menu that is innovative and nutrient-dense, so that customers never have to sacrifice taste for health.
When Carina isn’t working, you can find her keeping active with her husband and two Australian Shepherds.