What Color Is Your Pee? This Urine Chart Explains What It Means

By: Bulletproof Staff
March 19, 2020

What Color Is Your Pee? This Urine Chart Explains What It Means

  • Your pee can tell you how hydrated you are, and hydration is a key part of overall health that’s easy to monitor and control.
  • Use this urine color chart to figure out if you need to tweak your diet and water intake.
  • If anything seems off, talk to a doctor. How often you pee, the smell and even the clarity are all clues about your overall health.

Being Bulletproof is really about making simple changes to your routine and noticing whether those changes improve your performance. Of all the big health moves you can make, here is the change that may have the biggest potential for impact: drink more water.

Water is key to every function in your body, from processes like metabolism and organ function to joint lubrication and cell structure. Dehydration can reduce strength and stamina, and studies show that even slight dehydration can make you foggy brained.[1]

How do you know if you’re drinking enough? Your pee is one of the most obvious bio-indicators of how well you’re treating your body. The urine color chart below can identify whether the color in the toilet indicates you’re drinking the right amount of water. While your pee can hint at broader health issues, keep in mind this is just a guide — if you have health concerns, make sure to see your doctor.

What color is your pee?

You probably rarely look in the toilet. But it pays to take a second and make sure the color of what’s in the bowl is the right shade. Here’s what a few common shades mean:

Urine color chart

  • Clear: You’re overhydrated. You need to cut back on water.
  • Chardonnay: This is a healthy color. You’re getting enough water.
  • Apple juice: Spot on! You’re hydrating the right amount.
  • Yellow highlighter: You might have this after taking vitamin B.
  • Apple cider vinegar: You’re verging on dehydration. Have a glass of water.
  • Dark tea: You’re dehydrated. Stop what you’re doing. Drink a glass of water, and drink more water throughout the rest of the day.

How often do you pee?

Person checking watch

Do you get annoyed with having to stop what you’re doing to find a restroom? Or do you avoid water because potty breaks interrupt work? Either of these situations are cause for concern.

How many times a day should you be peeing? For most people, going 4 to 10 times a day is a sign that you’re drinking enough water.[2] If you’re peeing fewer than 4 times per day, you may be dehydrated, so check the urine color chart above.

If you regularly pee more often than 10 times a day, pay attention to the color in the bowl. If it’s crystal clear, you may be drinking too much water. If you’re not drinking more than the recommended amount, see your doctor for a possible health problem.

All this assumes you’re drinking the right amount of water. Read on to learn how much the experts suggest you should be drinking per day.

Is your pee smelly, oily or cloudy?

Yellow cloud

You might be shocked to notice that your pee smells differently than usual or isn’t 100% clear.

  • If you notice that your pee is slightly cloudy, this could be caused by an infection or other health condition.
  • If you’ve recently eaten fish or asparagus or enjoyed a cup of coffee, you may smell it in your pee several hours later.
  • If your pee smells a bit like ammonia, that’s a sign that your body is dehydrated, so drink a glass of water right away.
  • If you notice any other funky smells, it could be due to medication, vitamins or a health issue.

See your doctor if you have any concerns.

How much should I drink?

Person looking at drinks

In the ‘70s, Dr. Fredrick J. Stare promoted the idea of eight glasses of water a day, but this leaves some questions. How big are the glasses? Does a 5’3” sedentary person need the same eight glasses as a 6’4” basketball player?

The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) water intake recommendations are 13-16 cups of water per day for men and 9-11 cups for women. To understand this in volume, consider that a restaurant water glass holds roughly 2 cups, and eight of these glasses meets the IOM’s maximum recommendations for men.[3]

If you’re thinking, “Whoa, that’s a lot of water to drink,” don’t worry. This is a guide for the total amount of water you need per day, including what you get from the food you eat and other beverages. Your body is the best guide for hydration. Drink when you’re thirsty, but make sure to check in with yourself and try a sip of water once in a while — it may be the trigger that lets you know you need water!

Also, consider that when your body is in ketosis it needs more water. If you’re eating a keto diet, don’t be surprised if you’re thirstier, or if your pee color shows you need to drink more. Learn more about ketosis and how it can affect your body.

Does it have to be water?

You’ve heard that drinks with caffeine, like coffee and soda, can actually dehydrate you. But some studies contradict that idea.

One study of people given different combinations of fluids found no difference in the level of hydration between those that drank caffeinated beverages and those that didn’t.[4] Another study compared people who drank a combination of drinks that included plain water with those who drinking things other than water, and found no difference in hydration levels between the groups after a day of study.[5]

Of course, too much caffeine is going to make you jittery, and sweet or creamy drinks can be a source of excess calories and sugar. When you’re thirsty, water is the healthiest bet.

Related: This Poop Chart Tells You What’s Happening in Your Gut and How to Fix It

Why aren’t I thirsty?

You might notice that you felt thirsty an hour ago, but the feeling went away. By ignoring thirst, our brains can adjust with something called neural adaptation, similar to becoming nose blind. Another mechanism called prandial thirst is the urge that triggers a need for a glass of water when we start eating, which helps us get the liquid our bodies need for digestion.[6]

If you just don’t feel thirsty, ever, you have to create a habit — like making yourself drink a glass of water first thing when you wake up, one at lunch and another when you get home from work. Once you have a sip of water, this can usually trigger your thirst meter, and if you’re dehydrated, you’ll probably want to finish the whole glass.

How to remember to drink water

Person drinking water

Staying hydrated can make a big difference in your physical and cognitive performance. When you’re hydrated, your body can operate optimally — you’ll have maximum strength and stamina for your workouts, and you’ll be on the top of your mental game as well.[7] [8]

Here are tips for working more water into your life:

  • Grab a glass of water when you eat: You’re usually near the sink if you’re making food, and drinking water is key to digestion.
  • Set a regular “Drink Water” event on your calendar.
  • Filtered water on tap: Get a filter pitcher or use the water dispenser in your fridge, since most include a built-in water filter. It tastes better than tap, and it’s better for you.
  • Stay prepared: Keep a reusable water bottle at the office and in your gym bag. When the weather is fair, keep a reusable water bottle in your car.
  • Get a glass container with a glass straw: You won’t want to drink water if it tastes like the plastic or what you drank yesterday. Glass is the best way to keep your filtered water free from gross flavors or impurities.
  • Change the temperature: If cold water just isn’t doing it for you, warm it up or get it hot for sipping. Variation is the key here.
  • Add a fresh, healthy flavor: Add a squeeze of lemon, orange or lime. Get crafty on top of that and add a sprig of fresh rosemary or basil, or a few strawberries and raspberries (be careful how much fruit you add if you’re trying to stay on a keto diet).
  • Use drink mixes: Powdered drink mixes are an easy way to make your water delicious, but check the ingredients list — you want minimal junk, like excess sugar. Collagen Protein Boosts are great ways to punch up your water routine with targeted support for beauty, joints and gut.

Join over 1 million fans

Sign-up for the Bulletproof mailing list and receive the latest news and updates!