A Gallon a Day, and Other Hydration Myths You Should Stop Believing

A lot of this conventional wisdom doesn't hold water.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Pink gallon water jug beside glass of water
Photo: Marnie Shure

Hydration is a touchy subject. With headlines likePeople who don’t drink enough water each day ‘at risk of killer disease’” andDrinking This One Thing Every Morning Gives Me More Energy And Cleared My Skin” (spoiler: it’s a cup of water), it’s no wonder so many of us think that drinking a gallon a day will keep both the doctor and the acne away. But is that much water really necessary? Are we doing ourselves any favors by guzzling that much?

Why drink a gallon of water every day?

Most days in the office, my liquid intake consists of coffee and maybe juice. To combat this lack of hydration, I decided to order a refillable water bottle online to keep at my desk. I found a cute pink bottle with encouraging words printed on it to motivate me to drink more water. What I didn’t realize, or pay much attention to in my shopping cart, is exactly how much fluid this bottle could hold. Or, more accurately, I did not pay attention to how much water this jug could hold. Yes, I bought a gallon jug as a water bottle.

Advertisement

Drinking a gallon of water a day seems a bit extreme to me, but making sure you’re well hydrated does have benefits. Healthline details some of the benefits, including better exercise performance, regular bowel movements, better brain function, healthy skin, and treating or preventing headaches.

It’s not always practical, though. My water jug is so enormous, it does not fit under the refrigerator’s filtered water dispenser, and it takes whole minutes to fill at a water fountain. Plus, it’s heavy. Unfortunately, I’m just not committed enough to carry a gallon’s worth of water on my commute to and from work every single day. I don’t think I’m built to be a good little gallon girl.

Advertisement

How much water you actually need in a day

Forget the standard “gallon a day” or even eight glasses of water per day” figure, which are too broad and misleading. Hydration necessity depends on factors such as a person’s activity level, location, metabolism, and overall body size.

Advertisement

“Drinking a gallon of water a day is not really necessary, but it’s not going to hurt you either,” says Beth Czerwony, a registered dietician. Part of the reason it’s not necessary is that we get a lot of our water intake from the foods we eat, especially produce, and from the other beverages we drink. Tea, coffee, and even milk will help you stay hydrated, too. It’s a myth that only “pure water” will do the trick.

Instead of listening to the fitness experts of TikTok or the sensational warnings that say “If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” perhaps listening to what our bodies actually want is the best solution. Most of us know when we’re feeling thirsty, so whenever you are, take a drink of water. If you’re feeling tired, or feel a headache coming on, try drinking a glass and see if you feel better. If you’re at the gym, sip on something before and after your workout. It really can be that simple.

Advertisement

I failed as a gallon girl. I’m 5’0 tall and weigh around 130 lbs.—I genuinely don’t think my body (or more specifically, my bladder) could handle a full gallon of water a day. My productivity and my sanity would take a major hit as a result of the 25 bathroom breaks it would require. But maybe I can try being a half gallon girl and see if there’s any benefit. If not, I’ll stick to coffee, juice, and only as much water as I feel like drinking.