Usually, you can’t go wrong with H2O. It keeps us hydrated (obviously), helps us avoid overeating, and could even burn extra calories. But, like with many of your healthiest habits, more isn’t always better, even when it comes to water. Believe it or not, there are a few times when you should back off the bubbler.
When you already chugged a bunch
It’s incredibly rare, but it’s possible to drink so much water you put your health at risk. If you chug enough to dilute your body’s natural balance of salt, you can become too low in sodium, a condition known as hyponatremia. Endurance athletes, for example, may be tempted to keep on sipping all throughout a marathon (or after), leading to cell swelling that can cause nausea, vomiting, seizures, and even death.
Hyponatremia can also be caused by certain issues with the liver, kidney, heart, or pituitary gland, says integrative physician Taz Bhatia, MD, as well as by certain medications, like diuretics, antidepressants, and pain medications.
When your pee is clear
So how do you know when enough water is enough? Forget that old “8 glasses a day” rule and instead take a look in the toilet. If you see a light lemonade shade, you’ve reached optimal hydration status. If you see only clear urine in the bowl, you can probably cut back your water intake a smidge. Darker yellows can be a sign it’s time to get sipping.
When you ate a big meal
It’s one of the simplest ways to cut back on a few calories: Drink a glass of water before a meal (or when a craving strikes) and you’ll naturally eat a little bit less since that fluid is already taking up space in your fist-sized stomach. But for the very same reason, drinking too much water before or during a heavy meal can lead to discomfort. Drinking more water may only leave you feeling even more bloated.