28 May Drink Much? – Hydration for Health and Performance
Ever think about your hydration levels? Or maybe if you’re not drinking enough? Well for starters, hydration is important for everyone. Hydration is one of those often-overlooked topics that can honestly wreak havoc on the body through loss of functioning in many areas. Despite taking regular breaks to the water cooler or carrying around that trusty water bottle with you everywhere, it’s most likely not enough. Everyone is made up just a bit differently, but a good rule of thumb is to drink about 2.5-3 liters per day. A little more on that later.
Here are a few questions that I’ll go over that you’re probably asking or will ask at some point regarding hydration.
- Why is it important for people and how important is it?
- What are the signs of dehydration?
- How often and how much?
- When’s the best time to be drinking throughout the day?
- What types of fluids with help with hydration?
So how important is hydration for general health really?
Well I’ve eluded to how important hydration is for the proper functioning in the body. To dive in more though, hydration is key for the several reasons. Water is crucial for the body’s thermoregulation system, which monitors the internal temperatures of the body during daily life and through exercising. Without proper hydration, your internal temperature will be off balance, and this can create a lot of issues through electrolyte loss.
Water is extremely important for keeping your tissues (like all of them) working smoothly. These tissues are what allow you to move and use your joints properly. The tissues I’m referring to are the skin, nerves, muscles, and the connective tissues (around the joints). Proper hydration allows these connections to work well together. Dehydration creates stuck joint areas and tissues, not allowing you to move as freely as you would otherwise be able to.
Water provides a balance of your electrolytes which in turn helps the mitochondria in your cells produce energy, otherwise known as ATP. Mitochondria is a huge source of energy for endurance monsters like runners. The 4 most important electrolytes in the body are sodium, chloride, potassium and magnesium.
They help proper fluid levels in the body, conduct signals to the neural pathways necessary for a physical response (ex: you running), and much more. Electrolytes are lost through sweat during exercise or the urine. Therefore, your urine can be a very concentrated yellow color if you have too many vitamins at once!
What are some signs of dehydration?
It’s good to learn some signs of dehydration so you can combat the issues before they get worse, so you can stay consistently healthy and ready to rock, while not losing out on performance and health benefits. Some signs include:
- Not sleeping well.
- Thirsty a lot.
- Always having to pee. This could be because you’re not drinking enough electrolytes and the body keeps asking for more, but you aren’t supplying with the right type. On that note, try not to always drink tap water. Get some spring water mixed in there. Trust me from experience on that one. HUGE difference in staying consistently hydrated.
- Feel sluggish during or maybe even after workouts.
- Get easily dehydrated on light workout days.
- Digestion is always off or most of the time. This could be due to other factors like your food intake, which most likely is the bigger problem, but not enough water in the gut lining will not help either.
- Getting really dizzy after a workout.
- Brain fog.
- Just to name a few. ?
The cost of being dehydrated far exceeds the annoyance of drinking regularly. Your body works hard to regulate the internal environment and with not enough water, many bodily functions don’t work as smoothly as possible. Your brain doesn’t work well either. If you’re running a marathon for example, which is already asking your body to do a lot of work, shouldn’t you be a nice human and treat it respectfully? Water circulates, removes and is the solvent in your body. It helps transport oxygen through the blood, and it transports nutrients and protein. Sounds like a lot of stuff you need working well doesn’t it?
How much hydration is enough and how often?
Even if you’re not consistently working out currently, you should still understand and try to figure out how much your body needs for general health, and how often.
I would suggest aiming for 2-3 liters of water per day. Two is probably more appropriate for the general population, especially if you’re not working out a lot or have a light workload day to day. As well, the size of the person plays a role as well. You can always try out a variation of ounces of water relative to your bodyweight.
There are a few different opinions here, but one common one is taking half the ounces in water compared to how many pounds you weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds like me, then you would need 75 ounces. That comes to about 2.2 to 2.3 liters which is inside the 2-3 liters I suggested earlier.
These suggestions can include electrolyte additions and should in many cases. This doesn’t pertain to everybody, but if you’re working out consistently, work a lot, have a busy schedule, etc, then 2 liters really isn’t that much. Even if you’re 5 feet tall and weigh 102 pounds. Two liters shouldn’t be too difficult to do. However, you should monitor how YOU react to hydration.
Test, Don’t Guess
Test out a specific amount for a couple of weeks. If you feel waterlogged all the time, then maybe go down a half of a liter and try that for another couple of weeks. You are different than everybody else. The amount you work out, eat, your stress levels, etc, all play a huge role in how much you need. Plus, it won’t be the exact same amount every day. It’s just good to have a marker to follow and keep track in the beginning stages before you figure out your homeostasis of water consumption.
You should aim to hydrate regularly throughout the day. Try not to drink a lot during meals to avoid issues with digesting food. Aim to drink a glass of water when you get up and not a whole lot (just to catch up) before bed. Safe it for the next day so you don’t have to get up and pee all night, disturbing your sleep cycles. With that said, try not to drink in huge gulps all at once either. You need to look at your life schedule and how often it makes sense to be sipping or drinking more substantial amounts of water. It’s hard for doctors running around all day to get what they need. Many other professions would be hard too, but don’t just throw the idea out the window. You only get one body.
I would aim for about 2/3 of your daily intake to be taken before 2-3pm. Whether you are an early workout warrior, or you get yours done after work, I’d say this is a good system to follow. All in all, you need to try some schedules out and see how your body reacts to it.
What types of electrolytes to choose?
There are a lot of great brands out there, but also a lot of poor ones. Please don’t go get Gatorade or Powerade for your electrolyte needs. Way too much sugar and added chemicals that your body just doesn’t need. My tried and true brands come from my running background and are running focused, or endurance focused brands. Try out some Nuun or SOS. Either brand has a great backing of science behind their hydration combinations. Overall, I prefer Nuun. Very low sugar content with lots of flavors as well. You just drop a little tab into your water and bam! You’re one step closer to becoming a hydration machine.
I hope you found this information helpful, or at least a little kick in the butt to get the hydration station flowing. Your body needs proper water to work properly. I’ve made that clear. If you don’t believe me, look up some more information for yourself and find out just how important it is. Otherwise, go try some of this out! Worth the change and it treats your body with respect.
Thanks for reading! Now drink up!