JUST HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD A GUY DRINK PER DAY?

We hate to be so reductive about this very essential molecule but water is kinda hot right now. Which begs the question: just how much water should you drink a day for clearer skin? Between #WaterTok, the Stanley cup obsession and Ophora’s $26 bottles, the answers can be muddy. Too little, and you’re a rich tea biscuit of a man. Too much, and you’re taking a suspicious amount of toilet breaks in the office.

And yes, water is important. But you already knew that. H2O makes up roughly 60% of the human body and helps us to regulate temperature, digest food, keep our joints moving, flush bacteria out, maintain blood volume, deliver oxygen and nutrients to cells, and so on ad infinitum. As peak performance strategist Abigail Ireland says: “It’s fundamental to everything that we do.” And even the mildest of dehydration levels can affect energy, mood and athletic performance.

So, we roped in the boffins to find out the perfect amount of water per day.

How much water do we need to drink each day?

Referring immediately to the NHS guidelines feels like phoning your mum after an argument at school. You’re not necessarily going to get the answer you want, but it will be authoritative. The website suggests between six to eight glasses of water a day, which seems a suitably vague place to begin.

The US-based Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a bit more specific, advocating that men should be drinking about 15.5 cups (240ml per cup) a day, or 3.7 litres. So, minus the average liquid volume found in food (20 per cent per day), that leaves 2.9 litres of liquid which also includes teas, coffees and even some alcoholic beverages. Other experts I spoke to suggest two to three litres is a good guide, which supports both NHS (ish) and US figures.

But, it’s not as simple as that. Things like exercise, illness, gender, weight, salty diets, fruit, taking a plane, air-conditioned environments and sweating all mean you might need to drink more or less than the baseline. If only there was some way your body could communicate…

Signs of dehydration

Abigail Ireland runs through all the signs your body gives off when dehydrated: tension headaches, dry skin, dry mouth, brittle hair, a coated tongue, difficulty focussing, difficulty focussing, difficulty fo… fatigue, and dark-coloured urine. She suggests the colour of urine you’re aiming for is not transparent. You do not achieve top marks for clear piss. Being overly hydrated can lead to low levels of sodium in your body, water intoxication, brain swelling and yup, death. So, you’re looking for “a light kind of pale yellow colour.” If you haven’t been for a wee in a while, that’s also a sign of dehydration and anything less than four times a day spells trouble.

How often, when and how should I drink?

“Downing a glass of water is not a particularly good way of maintaining your overall hydration,” says Dr Ed Robinson, an NHS doctor and member of the British College of Aesthetic Medicine. But if you’re particularly thirsty, you’ve recently exercised, or just woken up, then drinking a glass quickly can help the body get back to baseline. Upon suggestion that an IV drip might be quicker, Robinson and Ireland both strongly suggest a water bottle with measurements that allow you to track intake over the day.

Should you drink during meals?

There’s no concrete answer, says Ireland. “Some people feel comfortable drinking water whilst they’re eating to help with the food going down,” she says. “But some studies say if you drink a lot of water before eating it can dilute the stomach acid which doesn’t digest your food as effectively.”

“So I suggest 20 to 30 minutes before a meal, have your last gulp of water, then eat, then 20 to 30 minutes later have another drink. But I think everyone needs to just sense their own body.”

And maybe you should be drinking instead of eating? “​​Our thirst signals are 80 per cent weaker than hunger signals,” says health and fitness coach Amanda Place. “This leads to choosing food over water the majority of the time, which can lead to both overeating and dehydration. So, every time you feel (or perceive to be) hungry, drink some water and then wait 15 to 20 minutes.”

Does the type of water matter?

“The type of water you consume is less critical than ensuring that you are adequately hydrated,” says Place. Tap water is the logical choice. It’s accessible, and the UK is fortunate enough to have a water supply free of damaging substances. Also, it’s probably best to avoid plastic bottled water. Not only is it pointless and unsustainable, but they also release microplastics into the water, according to a report by ABC . And you don’t really want to be drinking them.

How does hydration affect the skin?

It’s often claimed, that if your skin is dry, you should try drinking more water. But myth-buster Robinson confirms otherwise: “There’s not a tremendous amount of evidence that drinking lots more water beyond the recommended two to three litres helps improve the skin.

“The skin is the largest organ in the body and it’s got many functions, but one of its most important is to prevent transepidermal water loss.” Essentially, water loss through the skin. He cites the recent rise in the abuse of anti-ageing creams such as retinols and tretinoins damaging the epidermal layer and causing dehydration. His advice: get professional oversight when using powerful creams and use good moisturisers and SPF 30+ daily to keep the skin healthy and hydrated.

Well, there you have it. The facts. Maybe a flippant hashtag on TikTok can be a boon for public health after all? Start with a guideline of 2.5 to 3 litres, sip throughout the day, and ultimately, pay attention to your toilet breaks.