Forgetting to drink sounds almost as silly as forgetting to breathe, yet there’s a dehydration epidemic, according to a 2015 Harvard study. Researchers found that over half of 4,000 kids studied weren’t drinking enough, with 25 percent saying they didn’t drink any water during the day. And this isn’t just a kid problem: A separate study found that adults may be doing an even worse job of hydrating. Up to 75 percent of us could be chronically dehydrated!
Being a little low on water won’t kill you, says Corrine Dobbas, M.D., R.D, but it can decrease muscle strength and aerobic and anaerobic ability. (And of course, if you’re training for a distance race, hydration becomes even more crucial.) In your day-to-day life, dehydration can cause poor mental performance, headaches, and make you feel sluggish, she says.
So how do you know if you’re drinking enough H2O? Your urine should be pale yellow or very clear, says Dr. Dobbas. But there are several other less-obvious signs your water tank needs a refuel. Here, five of the biggest signs of dehydration to watch out for.
Dehydration Sign #1: You’re Hungry
When your body wants a drink, it’s not picky about where that water comes from and will happily accept food sources as well as a glass of plain water. That’s why many people assume they’re hungry when they start to feel weak and tired, Dr. Dobbas says. But it’s harder to get hydrated through food (not to mention more caloric!), which is why she advises drinking a cup of water before eating to see if that takes care of your “hunger.”