So your New Year’s Resolution was to get fit and healthy. You have no doubt hit the gym with a vengeance, or are starting your day with a brisk walk, or you may have chosen to dust off that bike that has been sitting in your garage for years.  Whatever new fitness regime you have chosen you will hopefully be coupling it with a healthy eating plan and whether the advice is coming from your trainer at the gym, an article you have read on cycling, walking or running or the advice from your slimming club leader, the advice will all be the same “keep yourself hydrated,” but what is enough to keep you hydrated and can too much be dangerous?

It is reported that LeBron James drinks a gallon of water a day during the playoffs to make sure he’s well-hydrated but firstly unless you are 6 ft 8in, weigh 275lbs, are working out with the Heat most days, then this amount of water could potentially be lethal.

It certainly can be tricky working out how much and what to drink on a daily basis.  In fact excessive water consumption is driven in part by “vested interests.” Plastic water bottles carried by people to and from the gym, around the Mall, or out to dinner have turned drinking water into a fashion statement.  Advice is often confusing to say the least, first, you hear, “drink eight 12 ounce glasses of water a day.” Then reports say that’s nonsense. On TV, advertisements are ten a penny trumpeting the virtues of sports drinks, while new research gives them the thumbs down. (Some Gatorade has brominated vegetable oil – not good for the thyroid.) You hear coffee dehydrates you. Wait, now it doesn’t. It’s enough to drive you to drink!

So why does hydration matter? Good hydration helps prevent constipation, exercise-related asthma, elevated blood glucose and protects against heart damage. Mild dehydration (a 1 ½ percent loss of normal water volume) reduces energy, affects mood and hampers memory. There is also a misconception that drinking several glasses of water can help you lose weight.  The only thing that water does for certain is reduce your appetite and many studies show that water consumed in food is actually more effective at promoting weight loss.

How much should you drink? As previously mentioned about 22 percent of the water you consume comes from food. The rest – about 50-60 ounces a day – should come from liquids such as water, pure fruit and vegetable juices with pulp and tea and coffee, yes even tea and coffee! Research suggests that they are not as bad as their reputation would lead you to believe.

What should you avoid? Avoid sports drinks and liquids with added sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) and drink only as much coffee as your nerves and stomach can handle (less than five cups won’t dehydrate).

So what should you drink?  Rather than trying to drink a specific number of glasses of water a day consider your overall fluid intake which should include not only tap and bottled water but also water found in unprocessed fruit and vegetables, good old pulp-filled fruit and vegetable juice, and yes, even tea and coffee!