If you took a shot (of Poland Spring) every time a celebrity said they start their day by drinking lemon water—well, let’s just say you’d be well hydrated. Me, on the other hand? Can’t touch H20 (or talk to anyone, really) until I’ve slurped down my almond milk latte.
I know that my a.m. beverage game isn’t the healthiest. Health pros (and Cameron Diaz, who chugs a liter when she first wakes up) seem to agree that you should sip on good ol’ water before anything else. Maybe I should take the hint…
So I asked an expert for the truth about morning hydration—then I vowed to try it out for myself to see if I’d truly feel the benefits. (Sorry, coffee.)
Keep reading to see what happened when I drank the nutritionist-recommended amount of water each morning.
Why drink water in the a.m.?
First things first: Even if your brain starts screaming “Coffee!” as soon as your alarm goes off, your body’s definitely craving something else. “When you wake up in the morning, the body tends to be slightly dehydrated,” says Paula Simpson, RNCP, a holistic beauty nutritionist and co-founder of the skin-care company Zea Skin Solutions. “You haven’t had fluids for roughly eight hours, so drinking a couple of glasses when you first wake up will help rehydrate the body, allow for good digestion, and just get you going for the day.”
Simpson recommends starting your day with two glasses (16 ounces) of room-temperature water. “Science hasn’t really backed up the best temperature to consume, but I prefer room temp,” she says. “I find that people with sensitive digestive systems tolerate it better, and it’s good for ease of absorption.”
“Oftentimes people mistake being chronically dehydrated for hunger or cravings for sugar or salt.”
The first day of my challenge, I notice that I wake up with a parched mouth. This isn’t unusual, but I normally just brush my teeth to freshen things up. Instead, I reach for my water bottle, take a big swig—and notice that my insides come alive. It feels so healthy, and it was so easy.
A few hours into my experiment, one thing stands out to me: I’m not searching for a late-morning snack. Yep, I have my new hydration habit to thank. “Oftentimes, people mistake being chronically dehydrated for hunger or cravings for sugar or salt,” says Simpson. “When your body’s well hydrated, it’s fueled so that it metabolizes food and breaks it down more efficiently.” Your cells are more productive when they’re full of fluid—and so are you.
Morning hydration is the best hydration
If I’m working out in the morning—which I’ve sort of started doing—drinking water beforehand (as opposed to solely when I’m gasping between intervals) makes a significant difference in how I feel. After two cups, it’s as if literally filled up my fuel tank.
Simpson knew this would be the case. “Sixteen ounces replenishes your fluids, and then you should drink more as fluid gets lost through sweat,” she says. But down more water before your workout, and you risk upsetting your stomach and causing cramping.
After a few days, I’m feeling totally tuned up. I think I might be a convert.
Before I started my water regimen, Simpson told me that proper hydration could also provide an energy boost. But as a coffee devotee, I was skeptical that anything other than caffeine would do the trick. When you’re dehydrated, she explains, “the biochemical reactions that occur when breaking down carbohydrates and fat for energy slow down. You’re not getting that energy as quickly as you would.” So it’s truly like oiling your own #girlboss, weight-lifting, sweating machine—and after a few days, I’m feeling totally tuned up. I think I might be a convert.
After a full week, I even notice a perk in my complexion. My face appears ever-so-subtly brighter, and has a slight dewy look to it. “Your skin will definitely show signs of dehydration,” says Simpson. “If you’re not drinking enough water, it can become itchy, irritated, a more uneven texture, and more instances of fine lines. Your skin barrier can become weakened as well.” All my serums were no match for my Brita.
As I sip my 16 ounces the Monday after my challenge was supposed to end, I think of the days of yore when water was the only thirst-quenching option available. People survived for that long without almond milk lattes—I can, too.
Regardless of when you drink water, these are the 3 hydration rules that everyone should follow. And this is these are the water-consumption myths experts want you to stop believing.