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3 Reasons Why “8 Glasses of Water a Day” is a Big, Fat Myth

8 Glasses of Water a Day

How Many of You Think You Need to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day?

Probably all of you. The myth has become so commonplace that even kids are saying “Drink your 8 glasses of water a day mommy!” (right after the other BS myth – orange juice is good for you!).

Surprisingly, even the Mayo Clinic flat out states that this 8 glasses of water thing isn’t even supported by science.

Thank you science for being an asswipe and contradicting yourself.

Now then. There’s another problem.


Yep. One of the worst things about the internet (and sometimes best things) is that virtually anyone can gain a following if people like the idea that someone writes about (regardless of the truth).

For example, if you have a creepy troll doll fetish, I’m sure there is a community for that.

I’m also sure there’s a community for people who love toes. Or strawberries. Or strawberries in toes..

In any case, bodybuilding.com has attracted this massive number of meatheads (aka 16 year olds who have ego issues and are dissatisfied with their self image and ability to attract women).  There’s nothing wrong with that.

Here’s the problem though. These kids number in the hundreds of thousands and they basically pass on bodybuilding bullshit science without confirming whether or not it’s true.

And a common thing they love to say is “drink a gallon of water a day.”

When I was living in China, my friend and I used to workout together as an accountability group to stay focused.  One day, he showed up with this huge gallon jug of water, and naturally I was pretty curious.

“That’s a lot of water dude,” I said.

“Yeah man, gotta stay hydrated and keep lots of water available for those muscles you know?” he replied. “The only thing that sucks is that I’m pissing all day.”

… And that should’ve been his warning sign. Let me ask you this: just based on the laws of not-being-an-idiot – do you think that if you are peeing as much as a diabetic person, that’s good for your body?

And why would a 100 pound girl need the same amount of water as a 220 lb bodybuilder?

I sought to find some answers to these questions, one dark and dreary day when I was suffering from one of the worst, most demoralizing things in existence: constipation.

3 Reasons Why You Don’t Need to Drink 8 Glasses of Water

8 Glasses of Water a Day

Alright, let’s start from the top: despite the fact that you don’t need to drink 8 glasses of water a day, I agree that many people need to drink more water.

The majority of people aren’t drinking straight water, or eating many fruits and vegetables (which have more water content than meats and grains).

Having said that, let’s jump into the juicy stuff.

#1 – Almost Everything You Eat and Drink Has Water

One of the biggest, most misleading beliefs is that coffee, tea, wine, milk, soda, etc. don’t play into your daily water consumption. But they do.

Fluids and drinks like: sodas, coffee, tea, fruit juice, wine are made up of 85-99.9% water.

Did you know that water is the largest single component of most food too? It ranges from 50-70% in meats and 75-96% in fruits and veggies.

Schmidt’s Human Physiology talks about how this water content is actually broken down throughout the day:

“A person weighing 70 kg [155 lbs] requires at least ca. 1,750 ml [59 oz] water per day. Of this amount ca. 650 ml is obtained by drinking, ca. 750 ml is the water contained in solid food, and ca. 350 ml is oxidation water. If more than this amount is consumed by a healthy person it is excreted by the kidneys, but in people with heart and kidney disease it may be retained…”

Only 650 ml is obtained by drinking. That’s about 2.5 glasses of water.

Konstantin in his book Fiber Menace says that this overall number (1,750 ml – about 7.5 glasses of water) is where the mis-leading “8 glasses of water a day” originated.

So originally there was mostly likely a nutritionist or someone who incorrectly interpreted this data, and began this massive myth about the 8 glasses of water.

Your food provides water for your body. Fact. Coffee, tea, wine, soda, juice also provide water for your body. Fact.

Are you better off drinking straight water? Yes.

But you don’t actually need to be forcing yourself to drink 8 glasses of water a day.

However, there’s one other problem: people who are constipated are often told to “drink more water.”

Fact or fiction?

#2 Water Does Not Help With Constipation (Your Poop 101)

So, in our juicy story above I talked about how I was blocked up tighter than the gates of Troy. And it kept happening to me.

So I saw my doctor first. The doctor basically asked me some funny questions about “clogging the toilet” and how “that must suck,” but then quickly referred me to a nutritionist.

The nutritionist (although totally genuine and well-intentioned) was a little bit baffled.

“You have a diet purer than the Virgin Mary,” she told me.  At that time I was eating mostly vegetables, exercising 5 days a week, and only drinking water.

“Let’s try adding more fiber and drinking lots of water.”

So I went ahead and added tons of bran to my already fiber-loaded diet.

…. And was promptly in the worst abdominal pain of my life. Pain so bad I couldn’t sleep. Oops.

I later learned that people with chronic bowel issues like IBS or Constipation, fiber actually decreases bowel motility and is the worst thing possible.

So we decided to scratch the fiber. Then we went to the water.

I was drinking about a gallon a day and pissing like a race horse — and it also wasn’t doing anything. That’s when I started doing some research.

In Fiber Menace, Konstantin talks about three false beliefs in regard to water, fiber, and constipation:

#1 Because fiber absorbs water (true), it will increase stool moisture. Wrong! Dietary fiber in stools doesn’t retain water any better than other cellular components, except psyllium seeds in laxatives[1] (a mere 5% more).

#2: Because fiber is so highly water-absorbent (true), it requires additional water. Wrong for two reasons! First, up to 75% of fiber,[2] including insoluble fiber, gets fermented by intestinal bacteria and doesn’t require any water. Second, the remaining fiber gets all the water it needs from up to seven liters of digestive juices, which are secreted daily inside the alimentary canal.

Conjecture #3: Water is needed to prevent intestinal obstructions from dietary fiber: Wrong! Water, actually, expands the fiber four to five times its original volume and weight,[3] and if anything makes obstruction even more likely.

He also goes on to state that “Dried out, hard stool, which is one of the symptoms of disbacteriosis, doesn’t point to dehydration (a mistaken view), but to the lack of synergistic bacteria needed to retain water.”

So what does control and fix constipation?

“Meal composition (not volume, and not fiber) influences motility more than any other factor: “Human Physiology: Motility is influenced by the energy content and composition of the meal, but not by its volume or pH. Energy-rich meals with a high fat content increase motility; carbohydrates and proteins have no effect.[13]”

If you’re constipated, rather than drinking more water, you’re better off stimulating a strong urge but creating a daily habit of going to the bathroom by eating a fat-rich meal, or drinking a warm beverage at the same time every day and just relaxing.

So: water’s role in constipation? Hyped up.

#3 So How Do You Know How Much Water to Drink?

This one is going to come as a real shocker.

Do you need a reminder every time you need to poop? Or eat? Or sleep?  Nope. We are conveniently designed with the ability to take care of ourselves, otherwise we wouldn’t exist.

How do you know how much water to drink? … When you feel thirsty. That’s how you know.

There are some obvious grey areas here — like the fact that although coffee and orange juice contribute to your total daily water intake, you are better off drinking pure water.  And obviously activity levels, diet, weather, etc. will affect water consumption. And people with certain illnesses (like kidney issues) may need more water.

But you’ve got that good ‘ol noggin for a reason.

Why the Diet Industry is So Overwhelming (The Big Problem With Science)

8 Glasses of Water a Day

The biggest problem I see with science (as a dude who has a serious love of it) is that it often over-complicates it for people and prevents people from taking any action. Especially beginners.  It can zoom in too much and lose track of the big picture.

We see 456 weight loss studies, and decide to act on exactly none of them. We see studies on every Vitamin known to man: A, B, C, D, X, Y, Z proclaiming to be a key role in every disease.

If you want to get nowhere in life, then be as myopic as possible and try to break everything down. But if you want to succeed in losing weight or getting healthier – look for the big wins.

Why are you taking fish oil supplements to help with heart disease but you aren’t even trying to lose weight?

If you lost those 30 pounds you would naturally see a dramatic improvement in your blood pressure, cholesterol etc. as well as a host of other benefits like energy, sleep quality… oh, and having sex again.

Focus on the big wins.  

This is a major theme at Modern Health Monk — don’t over-complicate, don’t make things harder than they have to be, and focus on big wins.  Instead of investing a thousand hours into becoming the top 99%, invest 10 and become the top 90%.

Use Your Intuition To Guide Your Health

Being in optimal health is often a matter of intuition — but science can’t always prove the things we deep down know.

But don’t you deep down know that your body knows when to you tell it’s thirsty? Or when it has to go to the bathroom? Or when it can’t sleep?

Don’t you know that exercise will help keep you strong, mobile, and young better than virtually anything else in existence?

Don’t you kinda know that many of our diseases today (the majority) come from our daily eating habits? (Straight from the CDC: “Chronic diseases are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all U.S. health problems.”)

You do. You know that.

The problem is that our modern day lifestyle totally short circuits many of our natural urges – we don’t get the natural urge to sleep as easily because we look into bright screens all nightwe don’t get natural urges to go to the bathroom anymore because of our diets, and despite the fact that you may be eating right and exercising, you might not be losing weight due to stress hormones.

It may not be an easy journey to figure out the way to optimal health again, but hey, it’s a fun one.

Just remember: you don’t need 8 glasses a day 😉

Images: Water, Flower, Shoes

Have You Read My New Book Yet?

  Read more about this in my book Master The Day. You’ll learn the nine daily success habits I learned interviewing people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off in a healthy way – by changing their habits. Plus, you’ll get a free $100 bonus video course if you show me your receipt. You can get the audiobook here too.

39 comments… add one

  1. Very good article! I actually did read the book |”You are not sick – you are thirsty” by the guy who started the 8 glass mania. At the end of the book, he mentions that he went down to the tennis court and played for two hours, every day over twenty years, That was in the scorching heat of Teheran and that is how he ended up drinking a lot of water .
    My scientific conclusion : play Tennis, stay healthy.

  2. Thank you for this! I can’t physically drink that much water, I don’tdrink that much in a day! If I drink too much I’m pissing all day and I wake up multiple times during the night to piss as well, which is not healthy! People really need to start listening to their bodies.

    1. Char char,

      100% agree with you there! I’ve seen people that are 100 pounds think they need to drink a gallon of water a day… and they wake up 5 times in the night to go to the bathroom. Not how it’s supposed to be haha.

  3. Good article Alex. I’ve never been able to keep up with the 8
    glass rule ever anyhow as it alway seemed too much with a few teas and coffees thrown in as well each day!

    So nice to read there’s a reason for that and as you say, it’s completely logical, one just forgets almost to question seemingly authoritative sources, and makes like a lemming about the info, which is odd as I would class myself as a reasonably educated person!!

    1. Cheers Nell!

      1. Your article is a little misleading. The Mayo Clinic said “Everyone has heard the advice, “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.” That’s about 1.9 liters, which isn’t that different from the Institute of Medicine recommendations. Although the “8 by 8” rule isn’t supported by hard evidence, it remains popular because it’s easy to remember. Just keep in mind that the rule should be reframed as: “Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day,” because all fluids count toward the daily total.”

        1. Very true Robert, thanks for the correction.

  4. Wow this is mind-blowing! I always struggle with drinking water when I am told to do so but don’t really want to. Follow your body not your desire. Also it is surprising to know that water does not help with constipation :/

  5. Is it bad for you to drink 8 glasses of water?

  6. This is the dumbest thing I have ever read lol!

    1. I agree.

      Drinking a lot of water is good for you.

      The only time drinking water is dangerous is if you’re drinking a gallon in less than an hour span which can cause death because you would literally drown yourself from the inside out.

      check your facts before writing (or reading) such a dumb ass article.

  7. Good Article man. But i would suggest not to eat ‘Bran’ (as a source of fiber). This is reason for constipation (Indigestion). Our body does not have the sufficient hormone to digest that fiber, hence indigestion.

  8. This article is not right!!

  9. News to my ears, whew!

  10. Thank god !!!

  11. I must say that you are pretty much convincing but i wouldn’t really reject the idea all together though. Well for one reason doctors have studied about these matters for years.

  12. You idiot..you need water in order for your body to function right. Your just trying to get people to follow you, i drink a gallon of water a day and i don’t piss all day…your body has to get use to it dumb ass. If yo listen to this your an idiot too!

    1. Why do you drink a gallon of water a day?

      P.S. I think you meant “you’re.”

  13. It does not matter if we need to drink 8 glasses a day. Our livers and kidneys are filters, so drinking more water will help flush toxins out the body. If we eat a clean diet then we need less water, but those of you who do not should drink at least 8 glasses a day, yes you will piss more but that is good. I follow this rule if my urine is clear I’m clean inside if it’s brown I need to clean hence more water.

  14. I just had to leave a comment on this article. Don’t confuse people with your stupid “facts”. Yes it is true, people of different body types should consume different amounts of water. This guy is an idiot, water does drastically help with constipation, unless all you do is eat cheese all day and you’re literally clogged up. yuck. Yes all of the liquid we consume on a daily basis has majority water in the ingredients but it also has lots of other toxins that your kidneys have to filter out just for your body to get what it actually wants – water. I’ve never felt more compelled to leave a comment than this because I hope people don’t buy this bullocks. Drink your water people, and as much as you can humanly take without overdosing. It will clear your mind, cleanse your sewer system, keeps your lips unchapped in the winter, keep your skin clear, and if you actually keep the habit for longer than a week or a month like most of these “google article writing chumps” you will see that the habit will keep you in high spirits. I can write so much more about water but I actually have to get back to my real job of helping people and not misleading them.

    1. Haha, interesting points tom. If I’m the google article writing chump… where are your sources?

      1. idiot. go drink 6 beers and eat a large pizza. then have pancakes and orange juice for breakfast you fat troll. most peoples diets suck ass. a healthy person who doesn’t drink alcohol, juices, or eat everything in-between the outer ring of the grocery store doesn’t need to worry about mad water. but majority of idiots with terrible American diets who will read this need to drink twice the amount and piss all day.

        1. Haha

  15. What an idiot. People have terrible diets. They have coffee first thing in the morning. Soda with lunch and beer with dinner. So yes all of America and any other country with shitty diets should drink more than what you are talking about. A healthy individual who eats no bread or pasta or any other garbage and gets majority of real carbs from fruits all day doesn’t need to worry about this. I won’t even get on the sodium levels of most American diets or similar countries that eat like shit. This article is stupid.

    1. Hahah.

  16. I drink roughly a gallon a day…. Back 6 months ago I was 280 lbs drinking maybe 6 glasses a day other than that I drank soda or coffee ate a lot of fruit, etc… My doctor told me cut all that out and instead drink water there’s no calories if you feel hungry drink water it fills your stomach curbs cravings and he said the more you drink the more you loose well here I am 6 months later still drinking a gallon a day on a low calorie no carb diet and I’m healthy as a horse I’ve lost 92 pounds so far my health has benefited so very much from my blood sugar to my kidneys and liver function best of all I have a flawless blood pressure now! I feel great my body over time got used to the water and adjusted to peeing so much I sheeeeddddd toxins when I do pee I have a very healthy amount of fiber in stool just all around great! Heck I’m gonna try to up my intake

    1. Wow congratulations Cole! Keep it up, 92 pounds down is incredible. What else did you do to help with that?

  17. stupid article, dont mislead people! dumbass author!

  18. I’m a physician and I agree with the general premise that we don’t need 8 ounces of water 8 times per day. Everyone is different. Some need less and some more. To make a blanket statement that this is the general rule is ridiculous.
    I disagree with the premise that water does not help those with constipation. Of course it does. It depends on what is causing the constipation.

    1. Hey Joel,

      I think all blanket statements (like you mentioned) tend to be inaccurate. Agree with you 100%.

  19. It amazes me how rude people are!!! This man is allowed to voice anything he would like!!! Doesn’t mean people have to listen. The world is full of millions of people telling you what is best for YOUR body & full of billions of products that claim to make you perfect!!!! It is YOUR body & a decision only you make to take what advice you want to go w/. BUT, you get on here & call him a dumbass & idiot which shows you are no better. It is lack of class!!! People should carry themselves
    better in this aweful World!!! Is it so hard to say “great opinion, I respect that & I’ll stick to my routine” instead of judging, name calling etc. In todays World, this man could show up at your door, for calling him names & shoot you in the face!!! People should concentrate on what makes them happy!!! Instead of seeing people wanting to help others or are positive people & trying to verbally bash them all the time!!! If it was a parent that was telling you this information, would you call them stupid? Call them idiots or dumbass? Hopefully you would say “Huh, never thought about it that way, thank you for the food for thought!” I never reply to these things & only read this one & commented because I’m stuck on the “shitter!!!” Hahaha. Have more compasion & love for one another!

  20. Logical. Actually drinking at least 2,000ml of water a day and I feel good. Though I was also thinking about the water content in everything we eat or drink, my perspective is that they are bonus water intake. I’m not really against of what you wrote but I will still keep my water intake practices. Thank you for the good laughs though. I had a really had a good laugh.

  21. ..it’s great to be a self-declared expert

  22. I think you are a dickhead! Since drinking more water my body has changed quite a bit.
    I don’t feel tired and have a lot more stamina, I’m losing weight, my skin looks better etc.
    I drink around 6 litres of water per day and the only draw back is going to the toilet more frequently which I don’t mind especially as I work from home.
    So don’t give me that bollocks that drinking the amount of water I do is not necessary.
    There’s always a doubting Thomas on the Internet. Fuck off!

  23. Actually, there might be some truth to this. Although I disagree about the water not being good for constipation, I do believe that eating something high in fat, even a snack has helped with constipation almost immediately, which is the oatmeal pies you can get in a box or individual at any store or convenience store, they have creme inside..I don’t know if it’s the oatmeal, or the cream inside that “push things” through (sorry), but they do have high fat with the creme and they work..just eating one helps.

  24. The fact that you aren’t discussing the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber should be a red flag to people that you don’t actually have any clue as to what you’re writing about.

    Constipation is caused by colon dehydration, which happens when your body reabsorbs water from your stool to make up for the lack of water in other parts of your body.

    1. Hi Ashley – I’ve talked about this in previous articles. Thanks for your input.

  25. I know this article is 4 years old, but if people still read it:
    Different types of soluble and insoluble fiber can affect different people, it is a situation where you’ve got to try different diets to find what helps the best. I eat no grains at all and stick to very cooked cruciferous veggies for dinner to get things things going well. Someone else may find they need more carb sources to get things going. It all depends on your own needs.

    By the way, I do drink 12-16 cups of water a day, depending on the season and activity I’m doing daily. Helps a lot. A good cup of red wine at the end of the day can also help as well. That’s my IBS-C solution.

  26. Forgot to also mention – I do take a powder magnesium supplement, the Natural Vitality stuff, which has helped me even more than diet alone. A good bioavailable salt or powder is the best for ibs-c because it doesn’t take forever to leave the gut and you’re not dealing with more constipation due to the other ingredients in a pill or tablet form.


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