Drinking Excess Water Will Do More Harm Than Good

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 01/28/2024

Picture this: You're crushing it at the gym, your water bottle in tow, chugging away because you're dead set on hitting that magic number—eight glasses a day. It seems healthy enough.

What if I said that consuming too much water could be counter-productive? It's true; sometimes more isn't better.

We've all been preached the hydration gospel—stay ahead of thirst! But here's the twist: Your body might not need an ocean of water to thrive. Ever heard of hyponatremia? Yeah, it’s as tricky as it sounds and can sneak up when you least expect it.

Stick with me—I'm about to unravel how listening to your own body beats any rigid rulebook and why smart sipping could be your ticket to staying energized without tipping the scales into dangerous territory.

The Myth of Eight Glasses a Day

Have you ever heard the familiar adage that one must drink eight glasses of water daily to stay healthy? Well, that's about as outdated as wearing bell bottoms to your Pilates class. The truth is more like an old pair of jeans – it varies from person to person.

Origins of the Eight-Glass Guideline

Taking us back in time, this hydration myth has its roots deep in misinterpretation. No one knows who first pulled out this magic number, but Tim Noakes did some severe myth-busting in his book "Waterlogged."

He threw cold water on this warm tale by highlighting how our bodies' needs are too individual for such a blanket rule.

If you're sweating buckets at spin class or chilling like a snowman in aircon all day, your body's SOS signals for H2O will differ vastly. Trust me; I've been that parched athlete and the cool cucumber working from home.

Individual Needs Vary

Your buddy might guzzle gallons and feel grand while you could get jittery with just jugs full. Whether it’s running marathons or racing through Netflix series', we all need different amounts to keep our engines humming smoothly.

Lifestyle choices like hitting keto hard or fasting till noon also toss those old-school rules right out the window—your body talks, so listen up.

Understanding the Dangers of Over-Hydration and Hyponatremia

Woman with keto headache

Headaches and Confusion

You might think slamming back gallons of water is your ticket to health, but hold up. Did you know that too much H2O can lead to a pounding headache? When you overdo it on the hydration front, headaches often follow suit.

And we're not just talking about any old headaches—these are worsening ones that feel like your brain’s somersaulting your skull.

But wait, there's more. It's not just physical pain; mental fog joins the party, too. You could be experiencing confusion or disorientation—all because you've been guzzling down more water than necessary after hitting the gym.

Physical Symptoms Beyond Thirst

If swollen hands or feet aren't on your wishlist this season, watch out for them, as they're tell-tale signs of chugging too much water. They say beauty is pain—but this isn’t what they mean.

This kind of swelling happens post-exercise when people think replacing sweat with an ocean of water sounds like a good idea—it isn't.

Better safe than sorry: these symptoms hint at over-hydration and warrant scaling back on fluid intake before things get salty with hyponatremia—that dangerous drop in body sodium levels due to excessive drinking (of water.).

So listen up next time Thirst calls; it knows its business better than any scheduled sipping routine ever will.

Understanding Hyponatremia

Explaining the condition caused by low sodium levels due to excessive water consumption and its potential dangers.

The Role of Sodium in the Body

Outlining why sodium is vital for bodily functions and what happens when levels drop too low.

Sodium: it's not just for flavoring your fries. It keeps our muscles flexing and neurons firing, but sodium waves a white flag when we drown ourselves in water. That's hyponatremia – fancy talk for low salt in the blood because someone got too friendly with their water bottle.

We need this mineral to keep the peace between fluids inside and outside our cells. Consider sodium as the club bouncer, deciding who gets in or out. Too little sodium?

The party inside cells goes haywire; they swell like balloons on a parade float - not precisely what you want to happen to your brain cells.

This balance is crucial—especially during that beach body workout or chasing after your toddler—and yes, even sitting there marinating over spreadsheets all day can play into this salty saga.

When Hydration Becomes Hazardous

The severe health risks associated with hyponatremia include brain swelling and heart stress.

You've heard "stay hydrated," right? But guzzling H20 like there's no tomorrow can send your heart into overtime trying to pump diluted sludge through your veins.

Your noggin doesn't fare much better—it could start swelling up from all that extra fluid cramping its style (think squeezing a large melon into a small hat).

In short, while reaching for another glass might seem virtuous—a cautionary pause could be wiser if you're already well-watered.

Exercise-Induced Over-Hydration Risks

Imagine running a marathon and guzzling water at every station. You might assume that such behavior would be beneficial, but caution is advised.

Think again. Chugging too much H2O can lead to a dangerous drop in sodium levels, sending athletes into the murky waters of over-hydration.

Balancing Fluids During Workouts

The trick isn't to stop drinking but to sip smartly. Picture your body as a sponge; it can only soak up so much before it's saturated. The key is moderation, keeping those fluids balanced like an expert juggler—enough balls in the air, but not too many that you lose control.

Slow down on the swigging if you've ever felt more bloated than a beach ball after exercise. Instead of setting sail on an ocean of water with no end, listen closely for when your natural thirst taps out.

sports drink bottle

High-Risk Scenarios for Athletes

Athletes often get caught up in high-stakes hydration roulette during intense training or long events where sweat flows faster than fans from stadium exits after a loss. They mustn’t let their hydration enthusiasm tip them overboard.

Symptoms such as brain swelling and heart stress are real risks when excessive fluid intake pushes sodium levels below deck, causing internal SOS signals that shouldn’t be ignored because staying ahead of dehydration doesn't mean flooding your system until it flounders.

Listening to Your Body's Thirst Signals

Heeding the age-old advice of "listening to your body" is particularly relevant regarding hydration. Trusting our natural thirst might be more reliable than forcing down eight glasses of water daily because someone said so.

It turns out that thirst is the body’s built-in alert system for when we need water.

Thirst vs. Scheduled Drinking

You wouldn't nosh if you weren't famished, correct? So why drink when not thirsty? Some folks chug water on a strict schedule, but doing this ignores what our bodies are telling us.

Scheduled drinking can lead us astray—sometimes into dangerous territory like over-hydration and hyponatremia, where sodium levels dip too low from excessive water intake.

Educating on Proper Hydration Cues

To keep things balanced, tuning in to your hydration cues is critical.

Instead of following blanket rules or trends found online about how much H2O you should guzzle, pay attention to personal factors such as sweat rate during workouts or changes in urine color—a telltale sign if you're well-hydrated or veering towards dehydration.

This way, by listening closely and responding appropriately to your body's signals—not just a set timetable—you'll strike the perfect balance for optimal health without falling prey to the pitfalls of overdoing it.

Practical Hydration Strategies for Health Enthusiasts

Staying hydrated is vital, but there's a fine line between just right and too much. You've heard about the ketogenic regimen or periodical abstaining from food, correct? These aren't your average diets, and they tweak your water needs.

Adjusting Water Intake for Diet and Fasting

If you're cutting carbs like a pro on keto or timing meals like clockwork with fasting, listen up. Your body isn't hoarding water from those missing carbs anymore. And when you fast? Your hydration cues can get as mixed up as socks in the laundry.

To hit that sweet spot of hydration without overdoing it, think tailor-made, not one-size-fits-all. Keep an eye out for nature's hints—thirst—and act on them instead of sipping by the clock.

Monitoring Hydration Without Overdoing It

We all love gadgets that make life easier. How about using one to track how much H2O you're guzzling?

A smart bottle might be more intelligent than us at this game—it tracks every sip against your daily goal. But remember: Too much tracking can lead to overhydration faster than running behind schedule on a Monday morning.

Dangers of Over-Hydration and Hyponatremia, Particularly in the Elderly

Dehydration symptoms in elderly can have a dual impact by not only contributing to dehydration itself but also influencing the risks associated with over-hydration and hyponatremia.

The elderly, often more vulnerable to dehydration, may experience symptoms like dry mouth and dark urine. In attempting to address dehydration, there's a potential for seniors to overcompensate by consuming excessive amounts of water.

This well-intentioned effort to rehydrate can lead to dilution of electrolytes in the body, resulting in hyponatremia—a condition characterized by low sodium levels.

Hyponatremia poses serious health risks, including confusion, seizures, and, in severe cases, life-threatening complications.

Thus, recognizing dehydration symptoms in the elderly is crucial to address dehydration and avoid the unintended consequences of over-hydration and hyponatremia, emphasizing the need for a balanced and tailored approach to fluid management in older populations.


So, you've learned the ropes. The potential perils of consuming too much liquid and developing hyponatremia are actual threats that can be avoided.

Drink when thirsty, not just to hit a number. Remember that your body's needs are unique—no universal water quota exists.

Tune into what your body tells you. Spotting signs like headaches or swelling could save you from trouble.

Balance is critical during workouts; too much water can do more harm than good. Trust in thirst—it’s nature’s way of keeping things just right.

Sip smartly and stay safe by listening to yourself—it beats any old rulebook every time!

Healthy Keto Guide for Beginner

FREE Keto Diet Plan