Is the 30-day water challenge on TikTok good for you?
Believe it or not, body-related challenges did actually exist before TikTok, but there’s no denying that the app has become the leader in making off-the-wall and sometimes dangerous experiments go viral. Some challenges are rather obviously foolish to most people, like the 2020 challenge that got people filing down their teeth to make them straighter.
However, the app is also full of seemingly harmless health challenges that only enhance your social media clout, not your health. One of these is the “30-day water challenge,” (#gallonofwateraday or #gallonchallenge, among other hashtags) which asks users to commit to drinking a gallon (4.5 liters) of water every day for 30 days, and no other beverages. Let’s take a look at some facts behind the challenge.
Too much water? Yep!
Perhaps a gallon a day sounds like an awful lot to you, and it sure is! That’s 128 fluid ounces, which is double the typically cited recommendation of 64 ounces a day. That’s why you’ll find plenty of TikTok videos complaining/joking about how committing to a gallon a day is basically committing to lots of trips to the bathroom. Your body just doesn’t need that much water, and the only way to push out the excess is through the bladder. Fun, right?
One size doesn’t fit all
If you’ve been following our articles here about proper hydration, you’re familiar with the idea that everyone’s water needs are different. Whether you’re an athlete, pregnant, living in the tropics, or recovering from COVID, you must take your personal circumstances into account when it comes to how much water to drink. In other words, listen to your body, not to strangers on TikTok.
The real trick: No other beverages
Of course, there have been folks who’ve completed the challenge and felt completely transformed by it, but here’s the secret: The magic isn’t in drinking a gallon of water a day, but in cutting out other beverages. Yeah, drinking more water can help you feel full and avoid snacking, which is great. But if you typically drink one or more sugary beverages a day and then cut those out in favor of water (in any amount), then you’re going to see some changes in your body.
Ok, so no TikTok water challenge. What should I do instead?
The bottom line is this: Social media trends can be fun and motivating for sure, but don’t be led astray by viral challenges that promise health benefits just because they’re clogging up your FYP. Instead, create your own personal challenges that fit your own health circumstances and lifestyle. Are you hooked on iced mochas? Challenge yourself to cut back on them at least 50% this month. Trying to drink more water in general? Build the habit of having a glass at the beginning of each meal so that you connect drinking water with something else you do every day. No matter how you choose to do it, start small, and go for long-term hydration habits over short-term challenges!