Hydration is part of our daily routine that we seem to let slide more than other parts-instead of treating it just as important as our food intake. We all rant and rave about our nutrition and what we eat, but how many of us forget about the most important nutrient-Water?
As mentioned before, energy in must equal energy out in order to have a maintenance level. The exact same goes for hydration. On average our body is made up of 60-70% water. Our brain 80% water, Lungs 90% and Muscles 75%. If that doesn’t show you how water is important in your diet I don’t know what will.
When we train we make sure we eat correctly and fuel our body appropriately around our training session. Why don’t we pay as much attention to our fluid intake?
We must find the maintenance level. Fluids in must equal fluids out. As simple as that.
I say fluids but I mean optimum fluids in the form of noncaffeinated, nonalcoholic beverages, soups, and foods. Yes, coffee, tea, juices, alcohol and the likes are all fluids but are they the most beneficial health wise? These drinks actually have a diuretic effect aka they trigger water loss and actually increase your daily fluid requirement. I would try to keep the majority of my fluid intake to water alone.
How much water do we need?
Rough daily guidelines:
- 1litre per 20-30kg of bodyweight
- Bodyweight in kgs x 0.03
- Bodyweight in lbs / 2 = drink in fl.oz 1 Oz = 30ml
E.g. →70kg x 0.03 = 2.1litres per day
→154/2 = 77fl.oz per day or 2,310ml (x30 to get ml) 2.3litres per day
As you can see using 2 of the methods above, I received 2 similar guidelines. Therefore I would either go between both or take the higher value just to be safe.
This is your daily estimated guidelines, now put it into action. Track how much you drink by either using a re-usable water bottle and figure out how many re-fills you need to be having a day to reach your fluid intake or simply write down or type into your phone each time you have a glass/bottle of water and add it up as you go along.
Once you get it into your head you will make a conscious effort to meet your required intake.
How do we lose fluids?
We lose fluids from our body through passing urine, stool and through sweating. The main things we must think about when staying hydrated.
You don’t have to be a sportsperson or someone who exercises to lose fluids. It’s very easy to become dehydrated. Every day you lose between 450-600ml of water just doing your daily business and activities; therefore it’s very important to replace these fluid losses throughout the day. When we sweat it is in order to regulate our core body temperature.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is the loss of body water and important ions (blood salts like potassium and magnesium). It simply means your body doesn’t have as much water and *electrolytes as it should have, which interferes with normal body processes. These processes include providing structural firmness and helping lubricate our joints allowing them to move freely against each other as well as many more functions that I won’t go into detail on now.
How can I tell if I’m dehydrated?
Your urine shouldn’t be darker than a pale yellow colour. If it is, this is a sign you are dehydrated so drink up!
Thirst. I am sure a lot of people take this as their prime indicator that they need to drink more water, but this is in fact a poor indicator as you can lose 2% of your body weight before you even feel thirsty.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- dry skin
- fatigue and weakness
- increased body temperature
- muscle cramping
- darker-coloured urine
- dry mucous membranes (mouth, nose, eyes)
Severe dehydration can also include:
- muscle spasms
- dark urine
- vision problems
- loss of consciousness
- kidney and liver failure
How much do I need to rehydrate?
This depends on whether you are active or not, and how active that is. Another consideration to take into account is the climate/conditions you are in. Obviously hotter climates will mean more sweating aka more water loss which must be replaced.
A person running will lose between 1.5 to 2.5 litres of water per hour through sweating, even more as the temperature and humidity rises.
Some athletes find it difficult to drink lots of water to rehydrate as they find it uncomfortable in their stomach, especially when playing in competitions. It’s said that drinking 170ml – 240ml water every 20minutes during exercise can help prevent dehydration.
1) Weigh prior to exercise
2) Weight post-exercise
1kg = 2.2lbs
Each kg lost = 1-1.5l of water to be drank.
According to the rehydration guidelines, you should recover and rehydrate with fluids and food to restore the electrolytes and water into your body
“Electrolytes are certain minerals (i.e., calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, sodium ions) essential to human health…and cannot be substituted by any other nutrient in the diet.”
Besides maintaining fluid balance, electrolytes help your muscles to contract and relax and assist in the transmission of nerve impulses from your nervous system to different body parts in order to perform optimally.
Exercise in the heat/humidity:
Water helps maintain core body temperature (thermoregulation), hence why we sweat as mentioned before, especially in hotter climates (like here in the Middle East!).
Even in moderately warm weather, significant amounts of water are lost through sweat.
Under more demanding training conditions, it’s estimated that endurance athletes can lose up to 3 litres of water in hot and humid environments. A weight loss of as little as 1% means more than just this. It is followed by a 2.5% decrease in blood volume, muscle water decreases by 1% and the body’s core temperature can increase 0.4 to 0.5°C.
What on earth does any of that mean to us you ask!? The change in the blood volume during prolonged exercise, especially in the heat, means that the body can’t deliver oxygen and the important nutrients to the muscles, organs and glands that need it most during exercise and it reduces the body’s ability to expel heat in order to keep our core temperature regulated.
Soo basically, it decreases performance on a whole!
Losses of three percent are associated with physiological changes, such as decreased blood volume, decreased urine output, diminished performance, and decreased endurance, while losses of nine to twelve percent are fatal.
This just sums up why we need to keep on top of our hydration, especially when exercising, and even more-so in hotter climates. Drink your effing water 🙂