How Much Water Should I Drink? – Beware Water Intoxication. YES, Water Can KILL You!


There are a lot of “rules” and myths floating around on how much water you should drink. Some people believe you should drink half your body weight in ounces. In that case, if you weigh 200 pounds you should drink 100 ounces of water/day (not true). The “standard” is 8 glasses, or 64 ounces.

However, you should let YOUR BODY tell YOU how much water to drink.

Can You Drink TOO MUCH Water?

YES. And it can be fatal. You heard me right – deadly. Drinking too much water can literally KILL you.

Earlier this year, a 28-year-old California woman died after competing in a radio station’s on-air water-drinking contest. After downing some six liters of water in three hours in the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” (Nintendo game console) contest, Jennifer Strange vomited, went home with a splitting headache, and died from so-called water intoxication. -source

Unfortunately there is SO much misinformation floating around about how much water you should drink. I see people doing “water bombs”, which means guzzling large amounts of water at once as a means to consume the amount of water they were told they needed. This really concerns me. It’s important to know the FACTS…

Understanding Water Intoxication

Water intoxication, also known as water poisoning or dilutional hyponatremia, is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain functions that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside safe limits by over-hydration.

Under normal circumstances, accidentally consuming too much water is exceptionally rare. Nearly all deaths related to water intoxication in normal individuals have resulted either from water drinking contests in which individuals attempt to consume large amounts of water, or from long bouts of exercise during which excessive amounts of fluid were consumed. Moreover, water cure, a method of torture in which the victim is forced to consume excessive amounts of water, can cause water intoxication. –source

“Young, healthy people don’t normally [get hyponatremia] unless they drink liters and liters of water at once, because your kidneys can only [expel] about half a liter at most an hour,” says Chris McStay, MD. He’s an emergency medicine doctor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “You’re drinking more than your kidneys can pee out.”

The warning signs of hyponatremia look a lot like the symptoms of heatstroke and exhaustion. You might be hot, have a headache, and just feel crummy. Other early symptoms can include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. –source

At the onset of this condition, fluid outside the cells has an excessively low amount of solutes (such as sodium (hyponatremia) and other electrolytes) in comparison to that inside the cells causing the fluid to shift through (via osmosis) into the cells to balance its concentration. This causes the cells to swell. In the brain, this swelling increases intracranial pressure (ICP).

It is this increase in pressure which leads to the first observable symptoms of water intoxication: headache, personality changes, changes in behavior, confusion, irritability, and drowsiness. These are sometimes followed by difficulty breathing during exertion, muscle weakness & pain, twitching, or cramping, nausea, vomiting, thirst, and a dulled ability to perceive and interpret sensory information.

As the condition persists, papillary and vital signs may result including bradycardia and widened pulse pressure. The cells in the brain may swell to the point where blood flow is interrupted resulting in cerebral edema. Swollen brain cells may also apply pressure to the brain stem causing central nervous system dysfunction. Both cerebral edema and interference with the central nervous system are dangerous and could result in seizures, brain damage, coma or death.source

That’s enough to scare the pee out of you, right? haha 😛

Keep Reading…

Hyponatremia translates as “insufficient salt in the blood.” -source

* Some symptoms of water intoxication are similar to those experienced during low carb flu. This is why it is recommended to sip on chicken broth, for the electrolytes (the same reason you drink chicken broth when you are sick). You want to increase your sodium and/or electrolytes to help with the symptoms of keto flu.

How Much Water Should I Drink?

How Much Water Should I Drink?

Let your body be the guide. Your urine should be a very pale yellow. If it’s any darker, you should drink more water. If your urine is any lighter than pale yellow, or clear, you are drinking too much water. This is the ONLY way to know if you are drinking enough water. Or “getting” enough water, I should say – as some of your water comes from other sources…

Some foods have exceptionally high water content, so you are getting water / hydration from the foods you eat as well as the actual water you drink.

Low Carb foods that are very high in water content include:

– cucumber
– iceberg lettuce
– celery
– radishes
– tomatoes
– green peppers
– cauliflower
– broccoli
– spinach
– strawberries

There is very little actual research, and varying evidence, that drinking water to lose weight actually works. One article I read said “research says that water helps to break down fat more effectively.” Even this article on Seeker (previously Discovery News) includes a lot of “might” and “maybe” wording, and they focus mostly on the concept of drinking water before meals to feel less hungry – and eat less food. However, that’s not necessary on the Low Carb Diet since it’s not a portion or calorie-restrictive diet.

You should eat when you’re hungry, and drink when you’re thirsty.

Drinking too much water can actually make you feel more thirsty – it’s one of the symptoms of water intoxication. So “how much water should I drink?” – the answer is, as much as it takes to quench your thirst and keep your urine at a pale yellow color consistently. Period.

Lynn Terry aka @LowCarbTraveler

About Lynn Terry

I love making the low carb diet EASY for people with a busy lifestyle (like me!) with my KISS / Keep It Simple method. :) About Lynn Terry: Host of the Low Carb Challenge
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14 Responses to How Much Water Should I Drink? – Beware Water Intoxication. YES, Water Can KILL You!

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  4. Keichana says:

    Hello I am a dietetic what else can I drink besides water because I’m only drinking water and it too much I need drinks something else besides water but something not to rise my blood sugar too much

    • Lynn Terry says:

      Hi Keichana,

      I drink 1/3 or 1/2 of a diet coke sometimes, and I like coffee. There’s also unsweet tea – and you can add cream and sugar free flavored syrups, which are nice in tea. Anything sugar free is usually fine.

  5. Jamie Cospelich says:

    Wow this is kinda startling. Because I have always been a water drinker as a kid growing up. I love water lol now I’m also diabetic and I drink a lot more because of that I know during my 10 hour shift at work I’m on my feet for the whole time and don’t get breaks cause we only work one person at a time so I normally drink 6 liters of water during that time definitely 5 liters most the time 6 because I am trying to cut out diet cokes as I have drank those since I was young also they seem to bloat u really bad so I allow myself 2 a day now. Now I’m gonna be nervous drinking that much water

  6. This is one of my favorite myths and I love seeing it debunked! The 64 oz a day quote was actually from a doctor, but the media only picked up the first half of the quote and ignored the important second half, where he said that the fluids are easily obtained in the foods we eat for the most part! People are ridiculous with the water obsession. Drink to thirst. It is totally illogical that experts tell us to listen carefully to our hunger and stop when full but then say we should force water. Lol. Bogus!

  7. Mary says:

    I did not know you can drink too much water ! so glad to hear about this one !! I don’t drink enough water , I tend to drink Diet Pepsi in place of it !! That is not good either but I will surely pass this one on ! Thanks !!

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  10. Donna says:

    I love real cold water, I use Mio in my water it’s made by Kraft, it comes in different flavors and has 0 carbs & calories. I’m also Diabetic so I stopped drinking diet pops last year.

  11. Cathy says:

    My dog (of all things) had to go to the emergency vet (need I mention in the middle of the night) from water intoxication!! He had been running around all day playing with a broken sprinkler. We all thought it was cute–but as explained to us–it can be deadly. He peed like a water hose for about 2-3 hrs, lost his appetite, and was visibly uncomfortable. He was fine by the next morning, but we were at least alerted that it can be harmful.

  12. AG says:

    Thank you so much for posting this!!!! I go absolutely CRAZY when people stress that everyone needs to drink a gallon a day or half their body weight or ANY predetermined amount of fluid. It is so dangerous and completely untrue. My son has significant medical issues from a brain tumor that cause a whole host of issues, one of which is his body cannot regulate thirst. We have to very carefully medically monitor him to make sure he is not over or under hydrated. His nearly 300 lb frame requires 80 oz of fluid per day. If he followed the half your body weight ‘rule’ he would die. So much goes into a specific person (and a specific day) fluid needs. Drink when you are thirsty and watch your pee. Anything more complicated than that is dangerous!!!

  13. Deidre Michelle says:

    Hi! I thank you for sharing this info on water intake as I’ve heard So many opinions about how much water a person should drink daily. I am a fime believer now in the info you have shared and I will let my body determine when it needs water. Thank you!

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