Do I really need to drink almost 4 litres of water a day? I haven’t got the bladder for it

I used to laugh at my friends’ frequent toilet breaks. I have a lot more sympathy since I decided to stay properly hydrated

I have long been quietly proud of my bladder control. Not for me the frequent, often urgent, toilet visits of my middle-aged friends. Motorway pitstops not for petrol, just for a pee? Not me. Nor was I ever heard to say, before setting off, “Ooh, I’d better just pop to the loo.” No need, you see. And in pubs, the hours I’d spend drumming my fingers, lonely as a cloud, waiting for my friends to return from the gents. Poor souls, ageing quicker than me, I reflected, smugly.

Hubris, sheer hubris. Last week, I read that a chap of my age and weight – 55, and 97kg (15st 4lb) – should be drinking 3.7 litres (6.6 pints) of water a day. Since I have endeavoured to comply with this guidance, my pride in my bladder has been flushed away. No wonder I could control it – I was hardly putting anything in it.

It takes real commitment to put away that much water. It turns out that while I’ve long started the day with a pint of water, apart from the odd tea or coffee that would be about it until teatime. Not any more. Before I know it, the app I have installed on my smartwatch is badgering me to drink some more. I tend to go great guns until lunchtime then, thirst comprehensively slaked, I lose focus and the target seems to get further away. But the input side of things is less of a challenge than the, erm, output. I’m forever running – and I mean running – to the toilet. And anything I do that involves putting any distance between me and a toilet needs careful planning.

How on earth do the properly hydrated get anything done? How do they ever travel anywhere? It’s a mystery to me. I’d like to know the hydration levels of the highly successful, the super-busy. I bet they’re as low as reservoirs in August. I’m quite sure the lavatories at the G20 are underused. There’s no way those world leaders are doing their 3.7 litres. If they were, we’d forever be seeing them hurrying out of plenary sessions to relieve themselves.

Hydration has changed everything for me, and not in a good way. Never mind the glowing skin – I want my life back.

  • Adrian Chiles is a broadcaster, writer and Guardian columnist


Adrian Chiles

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The healthspan revolution: how to live a long, strong and happy life
Dr Peter Attia is an expert on longevity and preventative medicine. He explains how sleep, weight training and other incremental changes can make us much more resilient

John Harris

28, Mar, 2023 @5:00 AM

Article image
The seven types of rest: I spent a week trying them all. Could they help end my exhaustion?
When we feel fatigued most of us focus on sleep problems. But proper relaxation takes many forms. I spent a week exploring what really works

Emma Beddington

25, Nov, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
The ugly truth: beauty’s not just skin deep – gorgeous people may be healthier too
Good-looking people may be better at fighting infections, a study finds, so don’t feel shallow when you swipe right

16, Feb, 2022 @3:27 PM

Article image
I always knew guzzling two litres of water a day was over the top | Emma Beddington
A new study cuts the traditional public health target down to size. What a relief: it’s never pleasant to drink a cold, flavourless glass of nothing

Emma Beddington

28, Nov, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
I wanted to know how to increase my life expectancy. Do I really have to avoid everything? | Annie Macmanus
The advice was to limit alcohol, avoid high-sugar foods and decrease saturated fats – but warnings like this are just going to encourage me, writes Annie Macmanus

Annie Macmanus

18, Jul, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
‘Massage breaks the pain cycle’: the return of touch – after almost two years without it
For many people, social distancing and lockdowns left them bereft of physical contact. Here, touch experts explain why it is so essential and what we lost in its absence

Emine Saner

08, Nov, 2021 @10:00 AM

Article image
A stunning second act! Meet the people who changed course in midlife – and loved it
It can feel as if our options narrow with every passing year. But taking a big risk could mean the second half of your life is much more exciting and fulfilling than the first

Emine Saner

26, Aug, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
Can taking a pill really stop you getting a hangover? There’s one way to find out …
Even at £30 a packet, the Myrkl ‘pre-drinking’ pill sold out before its UK launch. I spent four days finding out if it does indeed reduce the effects of alcohol

Tim Dowling

13, Jul, 2022 @5:00 AM

Article image
Hope feels dangerous in a pandemic – so I am trying to build happiness by focusing on small delights | Emma Beddington
I am not one of nature’s sunbeams, but we all need optimism in our lives right now. Can looking for little moments of joy help, asks Emma Beddington

Emma Beddington

07, Jun, 2021 @1:00 PM

Article image
Hot tub health kick: why a long bath is almost as good for you as a long run
Researchers have discovered that prolonged immersion in a piping hot bath has many of the same medical benefits as aerobic exercise

26, May, 2021 @4:18 PM