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Cold Weather Hydration: How Much Water Do You Need?

Q: In the gym I don’t sweat nearly as much during cold weather months as I do during warm weather months. I drink about a gallon of water a day during the summer. That means I can back off of how much water I drink until it warms up again, right?
— Jack M., via Twitter

Answer by Nathan Mikeska, owner of N8 Wellness & Fitness:

You might be thirstier in the summer months, but it’s just as important to stay hydrated in winter. The functions of water are very important, especially for people that exercise often. Water aids in our body’s delivery and waste removal, maintain body temperature, serves as a source for sweat, helps lubricate joints, and cushions organs and tissue. We lose 60% of our bodies’ water through urination at a non-exercise state, defecation, insensible processes (breathing), and 90% is lost in sweat during exercise. Remember that sweat output can change depending on the environment, intensity and duration of exercise, and size of the individual. Even though you are not sweating as much during the cool weather months, it’s important to replenish water constantly.

Some advice: Monitor your body weight before and after exercise. If, following exercise, you lose a pound, you should always replace one pound of weight lost with 2 to 3 cups of water. Monitor the volume and color of your urine. Remember a small volume of dark colored urine means that you aren’t drinking enough and you should start hydrating.

Adequate Intake: Adequate Intake for individuals 19 years of age or older is 2.7L (91 ounces) for women. Men should consume 3.7L (125 ounces. However, please remember that every individual is different based on age, activity level, climate, and daily activities. If you know that you normally go to the gym in the evening I recommend consuming as much as these recommendations throughout the day.

• Amount Consumed Before Exercise: 2-3 hours prior you should consume 17-20 ounces, or approximately one bottle of water. About 10-20 minutes prior, you should consume 7-10 ounces, or approximately one glass of water.

• Amount during Exercise: The main goal is to match sweat and urine output with fluid input. You need to be aware of how much you are losing (via sweat and urine) during workouts. The typical recommendation is 7-10 ounces every 10-20 minutes. This is most important for long-duration (>60 min) and high intensity exercise in a hot, humid environment.

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