So you’ve been working out, burning calories and sweating a lot. But have you been hydrating?
One quick way to tell if you’re getting enough fluids to replenish what you’ve lost is to look at your urine.
Now before you go “ewww!” hear me out.
Urine color offers a quick and easy way to tell if you’re drinking enough water or not.
This doesn’t only apply to those working out.
We’ve always been told to drink 8 glasses of water. But according to the Institute of Medicine, men should drink 13 cups which comes to nearly 3 liters, while women 9 cups, which is 2.2 liters.
The confusion has to do with the large number factors involved how much water our body expends. This includes
- how much you exercise,
- at what intensity you exercise,
- do you live in a warm tropical climate or a cold one,
- do you have any illnesses
- and many other factors.
Since this all varies from person to person, it’s quite difficult to tell.
One way to know if you need to gulp more fluids is by looking at your urine.
Urine Colors and What They Reveal About Your Health
Transparent or No Color
What it Means: Transparent or no color means you’re probably drinking too much fluids or water.
While we don’t hear of it as often as we do the term dehydration, you can be overhydrated as well. Drinking too much fluids or water causes this.
Your body tells you this with this color urine. It becomes colorless because the water dilutes all the other elements so no color is seen.
This isn’t as dangerous as being dehydrated. However, it isn’t healthy either.
Being in a constantly overhydrated state dilutes the body’s electrolytes. These include sodium and potassium among others.
When this happens for too much too long it could lead to water intoxication and hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is when too much water dilutes sodium in our blood. This happens to some marathon runners.
At this point you can feel:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cramps and muscle weakness
What You Should Do: The easiest way to deal with this is to cut back on fluids. Drink less of it, less often. You can also eat foods high in potassium like bananas, as well as some salty food like pretzels to help balance the electrolyte levels.
Straw color to Transparent Yellow Color
What it Means: You’re doing great!
It not only means that you’re properly hydrated but it also means you have healthy urine.
In general, a yellow color is a sign of a healthy urinary tract. How intense the yellow color tells us more about hydration. A light yellow to transparent yellow color tells us you’re drinking enough for what you’re body’s using up.
What You Should Do: Nothing. Keep following your regular fluid pattern.
Dark Yellow Color
What it Means: You’re normal but beginning to show signs of dehydration.
At this point you’re close to or experiencing mild dehydration. There’s nothing alarming about this except that your body is telling you that it does need more fluid intake.
The darker the yellow, the closer you are to getting dehydrated.
One exception would be if you are taking B vitamins, whether through supplements or through a multivitamin. The vitamin Bs do make the urine color more yellow.
What You Should Do: Add a bit more water to what you’re already drinking.
Honey or Amber Color
What it Means: You’re not getting enough water. You’re dehydrated.
This color is darker than the dark yellow color above. At this point you need to drink more water. You’re probably feeling thirsty too.
As a general rule, any time you start to feel thirsty drink water. It’s your body’s way to telling you it needs more.
The yellow color comes from the concentration due to the lack of fluids to dilute it. This can be due to the heat, or you exercising more than you used to.
While it’s probably because you’re sweating more it could also be from drinking excessive caffeine or eating foods high in salt which can reduce your fluid levels.
What You Should Do: Increase your water intake.
Maple Syrup or Brown Ale Color
What it Means: You’re probably very dehydrated. Brownish urine color can also be a sign of liver problems.
The very dense concentration of urine is often a sign that your body is asking for more water. Very dark colored urine means you’re extremely dehydrated.
When you see this you want to up your level of water intake. We prefer drinking water because other fluids can have different effects.
At this point however, you’ll also want to observe a few other things just to make sure. If you have yellow eyes or skin, or are experiencing pale stools, then you may want to visit the doctor to have your liver enzyme levels checked.
If you’ve started hydrating more but still experience the same dark urine color, it may be a sign of a few other things, including a possible UTI, proteinuria, or kidney stone.
Either way, if you’ve been taking in more water and the situation still persists, please make an appointment with your doctor.
What You Should Do: Start hydrating with water. Drink more water for the next few days as you are currently very dehydrated. This should solve the issue if its dehydration.
Pink to Reddish Color
What it Means: It could be you’re eating something that causes the color, or you may have some medical issue you need to take care of.
The pink or reddish color may be a result of eating beets, blueberries or some other vegetables or fruits. A number of them turn your urine and/or stool to a reddish color.
If this is the case, then there’s no problem at all.
Otherwise, a reddish hue is not a good sign when it comes to urine. It can mean anything ranging from an urinary tract infection (UTI) to kidney stone or something more like kidney disease. The red color comes from blood. If its pink, there’s probably not as much as there is when it’s red.
Either way, this is a sign that it’s time to visit the doctor.
What You Should Do: This is one situation where you should consult your doctor. A simple urinalysis test will tell you a lot about what’s happening.
Cloudy, Fizzy, Bubbly or Foamy
What it Means: The fizzy, bubbling effect happens when you’ve held it in for a while and relieve yourself with a good flow. The bubbles are a result of the force of the stream hitting the water.
However, this should only happen when you’re urine stream is strong.
If it happens all the time and your pee is always foamy or fizzy, it could be sign that there is protein in your urine. Normal urine should have no protein, or very minute traces of it depending on what activities you’ve done recently.
If there’s always foam and bubbles left in the toilet bowl, 5 to 10 minutes after you’ve relieved yourself, it could be sign of protein in your urine.
Should this be the case, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can. This is something that can happen if you have high blood sugar or diabetes, or if you have high blood pressure.
Cloudy urine on the other hand, is often a sign of a urinary tract infection, or a kidney problem. Just as with the foamy urine, this is a sign to go consult your doctor.
What You Should Do: If foamy, fizzy, cloudy or bubbly urine happens all the time, you may want to visit your physician to have a urinalysis done.
Blue or Green Colors
What it Means: These stranger colors can be a result of what you ate or very rare urinary tract infections (UTI).
Most probably it is something you ate.
There are some foods that can change your urine color to blue or green. There are also food dyes that can cause this to happen.
Foods like asparagus, artificial food coloring or certain medications also turn urine to blue or green. It can also be caused to excessive amounts of certain vitamins.
If it isn’t any of the things above, it could be very rare urinary infections.
What You Should Do: If the issue persists, then having it checked with your physician is the best course of action.
With hydration, the rule doctors often go by is that, if you’re feeling thirsty, drink up. You’ll probably get enough with 8 glasses of water, but depending on the climate where you live, how much exercise you’re doing and what other foods and fluids you consume, that may not be enough.
The color of your urine not only gives you an idea whether or not you’re hydrated enough, but it also can reveal a lot about your health.