It’s not new to most of us to drink eight glasses of water a day for proper hydration (hopefully). But did you know that there are certain times of the day when it is best to drink water? In fact, drinking water during these times can even improve overall health and cognitive function. If you’re like me, you probably think, “Water is water, I need it all day!” While this is technically true, research shows that water can absorb more of its health benefits and improve its internal processes if consumed at the optimal time of day.
Science shows that drinking water at the right time of day can help prevent common problems such as stomach pain, IBS, bloating, fatigue, overeating, high blood pressure, constipation, and even a heart attack and stroke.
On the other hand, there are times of the day when it is advisable to give up H2O because our body is busy and all internal tracks need to be cleaned to do its job. So it’s time to maximize your water efficiency and take advantage of all the health benefits that nature’s long-established MVP has to offer. Here are the best times of the day to drink (and not drink) water.
and note: The views expressed in this article reflect the views of the author and are intended to share ideas and initiate a conversation that allows people to be proactive about their health. As always in healthcare, we encourage you to do research, do what is right for you, and talk to your doctor.
DO: Drink immediately after waking up
The first glass of water should be drunk after waking up. Drinking water on an empty stomach in the morning can work wonders for our body, both inside and out. In fact, drinking two glasses of semi-hot water in the morning is an ancient Japanese daily ritual and is attributed to people’s health, beauty and longevity (hello #skingoals).
A glass or two of water in the morning will help the brain and body recover from sleep and go into grinding mode. It also removes persistent toxins and free radicals that have accumulated in your circulatory system overnight, and helps cleanse the internal organs of the body. The easiest two-minute detox in the world? Do it.
Pro Tip: For best results, try not to eat anything for 30-40 minutes after drinking, because that’s when the body cleanses, moisturizes and fills the cells with new oxygen.
DO: Drink before meals
Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before each main meal of the day to aid digestion and control calories. Water not only prepares the gut for food, but also prevents overeating as water fills the stomach and satiates faster.
According to Ilana Mulstein, MS, RDN, a member of the executive team of the American Heart Association and manager of the UCLA Bruin Health Promotion Program, he says drinking water before a meal helps control your appetite. “If you drink 16 ounces of water before you eat, it really fills your stomach reducing that sense of urgency to over eat, which also leads to a greater sense of calm and wholeness.”
Pro Tip: If you’re hungry between meals, pour yourself a glass of water first. Sometimes people think they are hungry when they really aren’t.
DON’T: Drown your stomach while eating
DO: Drink before (and after) your workout
Depending on your body’s hydration level at the time, you may need a glass or two of water before hitting the gym to avoid becoming dehydrated during your workout. When we sweat, we lose both water and electrolytes, so it’s important to drink at least 8 ounces of water beforehand to preemptively replenish the fluids lost through sweat and moisture during exercise.
Pro Tip: After an intense workout, you may need to drink several ounces of water to replenish vital fluids lost during exercise. The amount you need will depend on factors like your weight, health, and whether you’ve exercised in hot or humid conditions, especially for long periods of time.
DON’T: Drink too much during exercise
A few small sips (enough to cover your mouth and throat) during a workout will keep you hydrated and energy levels stable.
DO: Drink Before Bedtime
Hydration before bedtime and during sleep can reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke, as dehydration increases the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In fact, a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that dehydration can damage vascular function almost as much as smoking.
Dehydration can also negatively affect mood, which can tip the entire sleep cycle. And isn’t that reason enough for us to drink something before bed?
Inside Tip: If possible, try drinking the last glass of water about an hour before bed so you don’t wake up all night to go out to the bathroom.
DO: Drink when you are tired
Drinking a glass of water when you are tired strengthens your brain. Since your brain is 75% water, drinking a glass or two when you’re feeling drowsy will help replenish vital fluid levels and improve cognitive function. Drink a glass of water when you’re feeling tired at work or when you have a big presentation coming up and you need to concentrate. When you crave a nap but can’t get it, drink a glass of cool water.
Professional Advice: Did you know that fatigue is one of the main signs of dehydration? Because of its ability to move quickly through the body and straight to the brain, drinking water can give you the boost you need before a big meeting or when you’re on time and haven’t closed your eyes as often as you’d like. Natural caffeine? we will get it!