5 Tips for Staying Hydrated in Cooler Weather
It’s a common misconception that the hot, sunny days of summer are when we are the most at risk of becoming dehydrated. In fact, as temperatures dip, there are a number of factors unique to the cold winter months that can affect our hydration just as much.
To start, did you know that our thirst receptors are affected by cold weather? One study shows exposure to the cold reduced thirst by up to 40%, both at rest and during moderate-intensity exercise. And when we don’t feel thirsty, we often drink less water.
This is triggered by a decrease in blood volume and an increase in sodium levels due to the body losing water. These two factors cause the hypothalamus to secrete the fluid-regulating hormone called plasma argentine vasopressin or AVP. This reaction causes the kidneys to slow down urine production as a signal to “conserve” fluid, thereby reducing the thirst sensation, making us think we’re hydrated.
Furthermore, during the winter, our bodies are working extra hard due to the weight of wearing heavier, warmer clothing. In general, when the body is exposed to a significant change in temperature or intensity, the initial need for energy increases. We may sweat just as much as we do when exercising in the summer, though sweat is less noticeable.
Sweat evaporates more quickly in cold, dry air. The vapor you see when exhaling in cold, dry environments is actually fluid loss from the body. Since the body is made up of approximately two-thirds of water, when our water level drops, even by a few percentage points, the body can become dehydrated. Studies show a deficit of three to eight percent of body mass in individuals exercising in cold environments.
Another factor that affects hydration levels in winter is higher altitudes, which we are reaching more often during the ski and snowboard season. Higher altitude is linked to lower atmospheric pressure and temperatures, which means humidity levels are lower as well. When humidity is low, the air becomes dry. This increases loss of water in the breath and makes the skin less effective at retaining moisture, another area of water loss.
Lastly, a condition called “cold diuresis” caused by winter weather causes increased urination, leading us to believe we’re hydrated. However, cold diuresis is our body’s way of preserving heat and preventing hypothermia. When temperatures drop, blood vessels begin to restrict and reduce blood flow to the skin to keep the internal organs warm, such as the kidneys. As a result of this increased blood pressure, the kidneys go to work filtering extra fluid in the blood to reduce its volume, which often leads to more frequent urination.
We all know how important hydration is to our overall health. Less water intake during the day could lead to dehydration, which can negatively impact our health. The many benefits of staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water each day include keeping your body and your internal digestive, vascular and all other systems functioning well, improving sleep quality, increasing focus, preventing headaches, preventing infections, boosting mood and aiding in the elimination of toxins and waste from our bodies.
Though proper hydration is necessary year-round, as the winter months approach, changes in the environment make it all the more important. These changes include:
- The start of cold and flu season
- Shorter days throwing off our circadian rhythms and moods
- Less exercise due to limited time outdoors
Making sure we’re drinking enough water is essential to keep the immune system healthy and the body functioning at its best.
Since our normal thirst reminders start to decline when the colder temperatures set in, we’re sharing a few helpful tips to keep your hydration levels intact to help keep you healthy all winter long.
#1 Set a Hydration Goal
Setting a goal is a great start to staying on track with your water intake. On average, adults should drink between 2.7 and 3.7 liters of water per day to stay hydrated and allow the body to function properly.Fortunately, ZenWTR is available in one and a half-liter bottles, which means drinking a couple of those each day will do the trick!
Keep in mind, the 2.7 and 3.7 liters of water per day is a generalization and it’s best to personalize a hydration goal to fit your body and your lifestyle. Active throughout the day? You’ll want to increase your water intake to balance out fluids lost when exercising. Are afternoon slumps common for you? Often, we immediately reach for a caffeine pick-me-up when really our body is telling us we’re dehydrated. Swap in more water instead and see how it helps with your energy levels.
And if you do choose to hydrate with ZenWTR, you’re helping to prevent ocean pollution. It’s the first and only beverage in the world in a bottle made from 100% recycled, certified ocean-bound plastic. Not only are you getting the healthful hydration you need, you’re also helping to keep the planet healthy, too.
#2 Make Hydration Convenient
Creating healthy habits takes repetition. Research shows it generally takes about 66 days, on average, of doing something new, for it to become a habit. However, research also shows it’s dependent on an individual’s ability to create this automatic behavior, which can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days. In order to make sure a new behavior will become a habit, make that new thing as easy and convenient as possible, and not a huge change all at once.
We are big fans of the concept of “Habit Stacking” which pairs a new habit with one you already have. So, if you’re working to drink more water as your new habit, try to pair drinking a set amount of water with other things that happen throughout your day. For instance, drink a glass of water before you get out of bed, or while you wait for your morning coffee to brew. Down a glass before every meal and while you’re cleaning up after you’re done eating. If you don't work from home, drink some water the moment you get settled at work. Pretty soon, you’ll be habitually hydrating without effort and those glasses will add up throughout the day!
To make it easy to build that new habit, take water with you everywhere you go, to stay hydrated throughout the day.Simply having your water bottle nearby serves as a visual reminder to stay hydrated.
If all else fails, you can always turn to your tech to meet your goals (no judgement here!) Set an alarm or use an app to stay on track. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day activities and lose sight of our water intake. Fortunately, there are several free water tracker apps with various features to keep you motivated.
- Aqualert - This free water tracker app alerts you during the day to stay hydrated. It also uses your activity level to calculate how much water you need per day. Plus, it shows a graphic of your hydration levels and daily consumption so you can see your progress.
- Drink Water Reminder - A free reminder to drink water throughout the day with cute illustrations, customized statistics, and timers to make drinking more water enjoyable. And the app syncs with Google Fit and S Health for those tracking their weight data as well.
- My Water - Daily Water Tracker - Simple and straightforward, this water tracker app is intuitively designed to calculate how much water you need per day based on your personal health information. It allows you to set reminders that align with your schedule and lets you review your hydration patterns and see how they improve over time.
Everyone has different ways of creating and sticking to their habits. Use whatever is works and is convenient for you. After you’ve remained steady with your water intake for a few days, take note of any positive changes in how you’re feeling, your mood, sleep patterns, how your skin looks and feels, etc… to encourage you to keep going.
#3 Vary Your Water
Though everything you drink contributes to your overall hydration level (even coffee!) skip the sodas and energy drinks which are typically full of sugar and can make your mood and productivity levels tank. When your body’s sugar level rises at a rapid rate, it leads to an initial energy boost. Though, at the same time, as sugar enters the bloodstream, the body makes insulin. This can cause blood sugar levels to rapidly decline as a way of over-adjusting itself.
If you like a little flavor variety in your hydration game, try dropping some fruit, cucumber slices or a squeeze of lemon into your water to mix things up.
Also, during the winter you may be craving warm, soothing beverages. Try a tea that offers its own added health benefits. We love green for its reputation of supporting a number of healthy body functions.Thanks to its naturally occurring antioxidants, drinking green tea helps to support your immunity and may reduce inflammation. It’s also been shown to provide a calming effect because of the presence of L-theanine.
#4 Eat Plenty of Hydrating Foods
About 20% of our daily hydration comes from the foods we eat. The foods we often first think of as most hydrating are summer fruits and vegetables like watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, and cucumber but there are plenty of hydrating foods to enjoy in the wintertime as well. Some may even surprise you.
- Broths - Broths and broth-based soups are largely water-based and are both hydrating and nutritious. And what’s more comforting than a hot bowl of soup as the temperatures outside begin to drop? Pro Tip: tossing in frozen vegetables like tomatoes and zucchini up the hydrating elements of any dish and those vegetables were frozen at their peak of freshness, so you can enjoy them all winter long.
- Plain yogurt - Yogurt makes for a quick and easy meal or snack and has a high water content which adds to your daily hydration goal, and you get to reap the nutritional benefit from its protein, calcium and potassium. For added nutrition, add in a small handful of berries, chia or flax seeds, or a drizzle of honey.
- Cruciferous vegetables - Believe it or not, crunchy veggies prominent in winter months have a high water content (think: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.) Add these to soups, side dishes, or turn them into a main entree. Not only are they nutrient dense, but they’ll also help boost your overall hydration throughout the day.
#5 Limit Alcohol
With the cold of the winter months also comes the celebrations and indulgences of the holiday season. We know the importance of balance and, with a little planning, you can enjoy the festivities while staying hydrated and healthy.
If you’re planning to cheers with a cocktail or two, be mindful of alcohol’s dehydrating effects on your body. Matching each drink with a glass of water is a great way to reduce the risk of dehydration.
As an alternative, there are plenty of alcohol-free cocktail options available that are equally delicious and just as enjoyable to drink (if not more so!). Brands like Seedlip, Acid League Wine Proxies, Ritual Zero Proof and Free Spirits offer zero alcohol alternatives to a range of spirits and wines.
As parties approach, consider how you may need to switch up your daily hydration game to balance out any alcohol you drink.
Staying Hydrated and Healthy for the Season
Drinking plenty of water every day is beneficial regardless of the season. However, due to how our bodies adjust to colder temperatures, the obvious cues to rehydrate, like sweating and increased thirst, are diminished, along with their reminders that we need more water. Following these tips as the winter months approach can help you stay hydrated and help protect your immune system.
One of the main culprits of seasonal illness is due to dehydration. Dehydration is caused by losing more fluids than you take in. Because our thirst isn’t triggered as often during the winter and we may be losing more water than we realize through our breath and sweat, we often don’t drink the amount of water necessary to stay properly hydrated. This negatively affects our immune system since hydration is important for detoxification of any foreign invaders in our body and properly transporting nutrients to our organs.
Drinking plenty of water is a proactive way to maintain good health and once you get in the habit of drinking enough water every day, it’ll become second nature and you can reap the rewards all year long.
Refresh yourself while helping to restore our oceans by stocking up on ZenWTR. Our various sizes provide convenient hydration you can take with you on-the-go, wherever you go and our ultra-pure, vapor-distilled, alkaline water is crisp and refreshing, so staying hydrated should be a snap!
Don’t forsake your water intake as the winter months approach. Gift yourself some ZenWTR today to help you stay hydrated all season long.
Department of Kinesiology, The University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH. Thirst sensations and AVP responses at rest and during exercise-cold exposure. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15354034/
Newswise. University of New Hampshire. Why We Feel Less Thirsty in the Cold. https://www.newswise.com/articles/why-we-feel-less-thirsty-in-the-cold
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. How Cold Water Affects the Body During Exercise.https://www.froedtert.com/stories/how-cold-weather-affects-body-during-exercise
Denver Health. Winter Dehydration: Is It Real? https://www.denverhealth.org/blog/2019/02/winter-dehydration
Arkansas Urology. What is Cold Diuresis? https://arkansasurology.com/what-is-cold-diuresis/
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The importance of hydration. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/the-importance-of-hydration/
Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and healthy eating. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
James Clear. How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science). https://jamesclear.com/new-habit
James Clear. How to build new habits by taking advantage of old ones.
Healthine. The Best Hydration Apps of 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/hydration-top-iphone-android-apps-drinking-water
Healthline. Does Coffee Dehydrate You? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/does-coffee-dehydrate-you#dehydrating-effect
University of Rochester Medical Center. Overcoming Your Midafternoon Energy Slump. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/
Health. 10 Health Benefits of Green Tea, According to a Nutritionist. https://www.health.com/food/benefits-green-tea
Webmd. The Wonders of Water https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/wonders-of-water
Healthline. 19 Water-Rich Foods That Help You Stay Hydrated. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-hydrating-foods
Healthline. Does Water Dehydrate you? https://www.healthline.com/health/does-alcohol-dehydrate-you
University of California, Irvine - Susan Samuli Integrative Health Institute. Stay Well-Hydrated for a Strong Immune System. https://ssihi.uci.edu/tip/hydration-for-immune-system/
 Department of Kinesiology, The University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH. Thirst sensations and AVP responses at rest and during exercise-cold exposure. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15354034/
 Newswise. University of New Hampshire. Why We Feel Less Thirsty in the Cold. https://www.newswise.com/articles/why-we-feel-less-thirsty-in-the-cold
 Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. How Cold Water Affects the Body During Exercise. https://www.froedtert.com/stories/how-cold-weather-affects-body-during-exercise
 Denver Health. Winter Dehydration: Is It Real? https://www.denverhealth.org/blog/2019/02/winter-dehydration
 Arkansas Urology. What is Cold Diuresis? https://arkansasurology.com/what-is-cold-diuresis/
 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The importance of hydration. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/the-importance-of-hydration/
 Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and healthy eating. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
 James Clear. How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science). https://jamesclear.com/new-habit
James Clear. How to build new habits by taking advantage of old ones.
 Healthine. The Best Hydration Apps of 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/hydration-top-iphone-android-apps-drinking-water
 Healthline. Does Coffee Dehydrate You?
 University of Rochester Medical Center. Overcoming Your Midafternoon Energy Slump. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/
 Health. 10 Health Benefits of Green Tea, According to a Nutritionist. https://www.health.com/food/benefits-green-tea
 Webmd. The Wonders of Water
 Healthline. 19 Water-Rich Foods That Help You Stay Hydrated. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-hydrating-foods
 Healthline. Does Water Dehydrate you? https://www.healthline.com/health/does-alcohol-dehydrate-you
 University of California, Irvine - Susan Samuli Integrative Health Institute. Stay Well-Hydrated for a Strong Immune System. https://ssihi.uci.edu/tip/hydration-for-immune-system/