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Getting the Right Amount of Fluids

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
August 2, 2023
April 30, 2024

Dehydration will lead to high blood sugar, low blood pressure, dizziness, or cognitive and memory issues. It can also cause digestion issues, more hunger, and also a drop in metabolism. Drink water to ensure your body is not stressed out. It is crucial for human survival, and helps your body processes work correctly.  If you’re confused about how much water you need, read on or watch the video.

Drink water with alcohol, drink water with food, drink water when doing anything! The amount of water you need depends on your medical conditions, how much alcohol or caffeine that you drink, or how much exercise that you’re doing. There is no set amount for how much to drink: Harvard Health recommends 4-6 cups of water a day, while the NHS recommends 6-8 glasses or 1.2 liters a day.

Some people with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) or advanced stage Chronic Kidney Disease (ESRD) may have limits on how much fluid that they can take in. If your doctor gave you a maximum, then you’ll need to stick to that.

Having enough water will also make you feel more full, and will help with diet control. Plus, when drinking water, you are less likely to go for sugary drinks like soda. As a general rule of thumb,

Drink 16 fl.oz, or 1 tall glass, with each meal and around 8 fl.oz or 1 cup with each snack to stay hydrated.

Be aware, though - not all fluids will hydrate your body. Drinks with added sugars make the water less ‘active'. Although it is a liquid, your body won’t be able to use all of it to hydrate you.

Things that Will Make You Need More Water:

  • Drinking alcohol - If you drink alcohol, this may actively dehydrate you.
When drinking alcohol, drink an equal amount of water. If it's spirits, drink twice as much water as the spirits to stay hydrated.
  • Certain medications may cause dehydration if you don’t have enough fluids: Lasix or furosemide (known as a 'water pill'), and hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ). Ask your doctor what fluid intake is right for you.
  • Caffeine - May cause your body to require more water.
For every cup of coffee you drink, drink 1/2 cup or more of water to stay hydrated.
  • Exercise - If you are exercising at a moderate intensity, you will likely need more water. If you have no fluid restrictions from your doctor, drink a little extra during a workout to stay hydrated.

Tips on Getting Enough Water

From the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

  • Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water or other fluids.
  • Take sips of water, milk, or juice between bites during meals.
  • Add liquids throughout the day.
  • Have a cup of low-fat soup as an afternoon snack.
  • Drink a full glass of water when you take a pill.
  • Have a glass of water before you exercise.
  • Drink fat-free or low-fat milk, or other drinks without added sugars.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly and in moderation. That means up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks for men.
  • Don’t stop drinking liquids if you have a urinary control problem. Talk with your doctor about treatment.
  • Eat foods with high water content like citrus fruits, cucumbers, tomatoes, and melons to name a few.


While some of us may get used to functioning with less water intake, the body needs a certain amount to function optimally. The optimum amount that your body needs depends on what you’re doing, and your medical restrictions. If you’re not sure what the right amount of fluids are for you, log how much you’re drinking, and what you’re drinking. And talk with your doctor about your needs.

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