Do we really need to drink 8 cups of water each day?

by Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD on Oct 12, 2009

Food for Thought

The answer is a qualified “no,” but don’t toss that general recommendation out the window yet. For the average person, a good rule of thumb is to drink 8–10 cups of fluid per day to replace the amount lost during the day. That is in addition to the water we ingest with our food (usually about 4 cups). Obviously, the fluid recommendations vary from individual to individual, due to age, fitness/activity level, training regimen, climate and other factors.

Of course, water is the preferred beverage to replace the fluid you lose each day, followed by beverages that contain little to no calories. But all daily fluids you consume do add up. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men get about 14 cups of fluid daily, while women should aim for 10 cups per day. Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding may need more.

Here’s a basic rule: Drink when you’re thirsty; if the color of your urine is pale yellow, you’re probably getting enough fluids.

Fitness Journal, Volume 6, Issue 10

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© 2009 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD

Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD IDEA Author/Presenter

You can pose your own question to our contributing editor Jennie McCary, MS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian and worksite wellness consultant with Presbyterian Health Plan. Please send your questions, along with your name and city/state/country, to editor Sandy Webster at