Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Water vs. Soda

In my previous post, I announced that I was attempting to keep track of how much water and how much soda I drink. I’ve now compiled just over two weeks of data. I thought I’d go ahead and report on it.

To start off, allow me to provide some general information concerning recommended fluid intakes. If you’re like me, you’ve heard that you should drink eight glasses of water per day, or 64 ounces. Looking around at various Internet sites, I’ve learned a few things about this claim. First off, according to the Mayo Clinic, “all fluids count toward the daily total,” so if you drink 50 ounces of water and 14 ounces of other beverages, you’re probably serving your body fairly well (in terms of fluid intake, anyway). Furthermore, it is possible to drink too much water. Water intoxication, as it’s called, can occur when someone drinks too much water in too short a period of time. Results can be fatal.

Truth be told, once I started looking at my daily totals, I started to worry about water intoxication. One day, I consumed 218 ounces (just over 27 cups) of fluids, almost 200 ounces (nearly 6 liters!) of which was water. The following day, I consumed 230 ounces (almost 29 glasses, or nearly 7 liters) of fluids. But these days were atypical. My throat was feeling scratchy, and I felt like I had to be constantly drinking in order to avoid a coughing fit. However, it turns out I do drink a fair amount. If we rule out the few days when I had a scratchy throat, my average water intake is approximately 85 ounces per day. But I also drink an average of 49 ounces of soda per day. That’s quite a bit, though my soda intake is much more irregular than my water intake. While my daily water intake remains fairly stable, there are days when my soda intake spikes, usually because we’ve gone out to eat. This means that although I might only drink 24 ounces of soda on one day, the whopping 84 ounces I consume a few days later bears heavily on the calculated average.

But here’s the good news. In an attempt to be more than fair, I chose always to overestimate my soda intake and always underestimate my water intake. This means that, on those presumably high-soda-intake days, the numbers are likely grossly exaggerated. Say I take my 32-ounce refillable cup to Circle K and fill it up with Mountain Dew. Before the Mountain Dew cascades beautifully into the cup, I fill about half of the cup with ice. I’m not saying that drops my soda intake to a mere 16 ounces for that particular refill, but it certainly drops it by at least five or 10 ounces, I would think. And so on those crazy days when I’ve had more than one such drink, I’m probably reporting upwards of 20 ounces of soda that I didn’t really drink. And because I often drink a soda over ice, I’d say most of the reported daily intakes of soda are off. Fortunately, though I underestimate my water intake when it’s difficult to be exact, the numbers should be fairly accurate, thanks to the drinking vessels I tend to utilize (one-liter bottles that I drink in their entirety, refillable plastic water bottles with markers on the side to denote how many ounces remain, etc.). I also did an online survey that asked for details concerning my weight, my exercise habits (ha ha!), and the climate in which I live. According to that site, based on the statistics I provided, I should be drinking somewhere between 112 and 141 ounces of water (fluids?) per day. So I think I’m sitting pretty, about where I should be.

P.S. For those who tried to watch the Michael Jackson tribute video I included in my last post but found it unavailable, I have since updated the link. You should be able to scroll down and watch it now, if you couldn’t before.


  1. I have often wondered this myself about my fluid intake. I tend to drink large amounts of water and have often wondered about water intoxication. From my research it has to be A LOT of water in a short amount of time, or if there are other extraneous factors depleting your body of electrolytes. So I don't think that you have much to worry about. Interesting stats though.

  2. It appears you are conducting quite a serious study. Good for you. I did find I slept a lot better when I stopped filling up on a lot of water at night.
    By the way, did those bad headaches of yours go away?