The 5 Best iOS and Apple Watch Apps to Stay Hydrated

We all know how important it is to stay hydrated. If you don’t drink enough, you can get tired, foggy, and your work may suffer. Here are 5 apps that can help ensure that you drink enough during the day.

Actually, that’s not what I’m going to tell you. The headline and lede are both clickbait. Why? Because you don’t need an app, or a smart water bottle, to stay “hydrated.” You just need to drink when you’re thirsty.

I’ve long been annoyed by this idea, that somehow there is a magic amount of water you need every day. It doesn’t matter your age, your activity, or your body weight, but you have to drink 8 glasses of 8 ounces each (if you’re in the US), or, in France, where I used to live, you have to drink 1.5 liters of water each day. (Coincidentally the size of most bottles of mineral water sold in the country.) These recommendations don’t take into account your activity, the temperature and humidity where you live, and other variables, such as how much water is in the food you eat.

Also, drinking too much water an be unhealthy; it lowers electrolytes, notably sodium, and in extreme cases can cause death.

I’m reminded of this today because of an article in The Guardian: The truth about hydration: should you drink eight glasses of water a day? They’re headline is a bit click-baity too, because asking a question in a headline gets you better Google search results.

Drink when you’re thirsty. Unless you have a medical condition, or you are taking specific medication, you don’t need to do anything else. Yes, the elderly need reminding, because they don’t notice thirst in the same way, but I doubt that many elderly people have bought smart water bottles that sync with their iPhones.

Also, tea, coffee, and beer don’t dehydrate you. As the article says:

In 2016, Galloway tested the hydrating potential of a range of drinks and found a litre of beer was no less hydrating than a litre of water. Similarly, a litre of instant coffee, containing 212mg of caffeine, was as hydrating as water.

We all have trouble dealing with the myriad health recommendations we get, but some of them just make no sense. And with this one, it’s hard to do the research; there are so many sites that repeat this useless information, and, in particular, lots of businesses wanting you to think that you need more water than you do, so they can sell you bottled water or Bluetooth water bottles.

4 thoughts on “The 5 Best iOS and Apple Watch Apps to Stay Hydrated

  1. Well said. I often find myself getting irritated by those people who constantly sip from a water bottle which seems welded to their hand (the other hand is occupied by their ever-present phone, which they check every 20 seconds). Here in the UK you would have to try very hard to become dehydrated on any normal day. You only need a couple of cups of tea or coffee to keep you in shape all day. This ‘hydrated’ nonsense is created by the bottled water industry.

    • To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with sipping water during the day, but if you’re using an app, then it’s just obsessive. I always have a half-liter bottle of water in my knapsack for when I get thirsty, because it can be hand to get water at times. I find that, when I go to the theater, I generally drink the whole thing, because it’s either warm, or the air conditioning, and dry air, makes me thirsty.

  2. I agree with most of your thesis, Kirk. It’s silly to prescribe a specific quantity of daily water consumption to every person in every situation. For most people, eight glasses of water a day is too much. On the other hand, many of us sit in front of the computer until something interrupts us. We can go much too long without moving, drinking, or paying attetion to anything outside of the screen. We would benefit from reminders to stand up, stretch, walk at least a few steps, and ask ourselves if we are thirsty. Many people working in offices are mildly dehydrated. That is not a terrible health risk, but an hourly reminder to check in with your body is likely to be a good thing for many of us.

  3. Good to see this getting more air time.

    I read an article once upon a time that tried to track down the origin of 8 glasses a day. The oldest article they found was a minor research project by the US Army in the 50s? trying to determine the water needs of soldiers (aka ‘fit young men’) in a particular climate doing a particular amount of work, and for those circumstances the average was about 1/2 US gallon per day, not counting water in their food.

    There was a good article at The Conversation last year about sports over-hydration deaths:

    I had to take diuretics for a while once, and griped to the doctor that I drank a liter of tea every day, so why did I need more diuretic? Answer: Caffeine isn’t a diuretic, it’s a bladder irritant. A day into the real diuretic that became abundantly clear.

    I do carry a water bottle and sip frequently because my throat tends to dry out and get irritated. Maybe I should look for an app to let me know when that happens!

    Oh yeah–that 10,000 steps a day thing? That was for a Japanese pedometer ad and has no basis in reality. A smallish study of the longevity of 17,000 elderly women found that 4400 is beneficial compared to 2700, but more than 7500 gave no additional benefit. Broader and more thorough research obviously needed.

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