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What is Superhydration?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Superhydration involves drinking large amounts of water every day, creating a state in which the body is indeed superhydrated. This concept has a number of proponents and adherents, who make all sorts of claims about its efficacy. It also has some detractors, who have raised concerns about how well it works and whether or not it could be dangerous. You may want to consult your doctor for a medical opinion before embarking on superhydration yourself.

There are two approaches to superhydration. One approach simply involves drinking a lot of water every day; the exact amount varies, depending on the proponent, but it can exceed one gallon (almost four liters) of water a day. Other proponents say that the water must also be extremely cold, preferably ice-cold, for the benefits to be felt.

Fans of superhydration say that it can promote weight loss while also making digestion more efficient. Superhydration is also supposed to help the body express toxins, essentially acting as a solvent for fats and a variety of potentially harmful materials and flushing them from the body. Many dieters use superhydration or some form of it as a tool to deal with food cravings. People who encourage the consumption of ice cold water believe that the body expends calories through heat exchange as the cold water slowly warms up in the body, thereby promoting weight loss even further.

Detractors of the superhydration theory have pointed to a number of studies which show that the alleged benefits of this practice are not actually that great. These studies have shown that a number of factors can contribute to things like weight loss, and it is hard to control for these factors while carrying out a superhydration study. Superhydration can also create an illusion of weight loss in the early stages, leading to disappointment when a diet does not proceed as expected.

Superhydration also comes with a risk. People who consume large amounts of water in a short period of time are risking water intoxication, a medical condition with serious consequences. Water intoxication can even lead to death in some circumstances, and while it is rare, it does happen.

Drinking some water every day is generally a good idea, and there's probably nothing wrong with moderate superhydration. In theory, you should get all of the water you need from the food you eat, but drinking extra water can help keep your skin supple and hydrated, and it can stave off the effects of minor dehydration which can arise when eating a lot of salty, processed food or living in the heat.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon342726 — On Jul 23, 2013

I drink over a gallon of water most days. I am an adult male, 35 years of age, 6'2" tall and weigh 210 pounds. I actually have never even come close to feeling ill or anything and even today I have consumed a half gallon of water in the last hour.

The only reports I have ever heard of water poisoning is in athletes like super marathon runners who consume large amounts of water during events and are unable to urinate sufficiently.

By ashybadashy — On Jan 28, 2011

@cfmom- I think water poisoning is more likely to occur in small children who are forced to drink massive amounts of water. I think it is pretty rare in adults.

By cfmom — On Jan 26, 2011

This is interesting. I have never heard of a diet that involved drinking the amounts of water that would be needed to superhydrate. I have always heard drinking too much water could lead to "water poisoning."

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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