Water is life. It’s responsible for the function of each cell in the body, as over 70% of our bodies are made of water. It’s important to remember that having a dry mouth or feeling thirsty is a sign that your body is already dehydrated.
Dehydration is detrimental to exercise regimes. It reduces the volume of blood pumped to the heart which results in less oxygen reaching the muscles. That means that a dehydrated body may experience premature fatigue during exercise. Dark urine, headaches, a feeling of light headedness and tiredness are all symptoms of dehydration.
So how much water should you be drinking? The European Food Safety Authority recommends that men drink 2 litres of water per day, and women drink about 1.6 litres per day. That’s 10 glasses of water for men, and 8 glasses of water for women. However, this government guideline doesn’t consider the need to increase water intake for people that are physically active.
When exercising, consider how much you’re sweating, the intensity and duration of your training session, and the humidity and temperature of your environment. As everyone is different, there can be a fine line between the appropriate amount of water necessary to remain properly hydrated, overconsumption to the point of cramping and hyponatremia, and dehydration due to too little water intake. It’s crucial to strike a balance to prevent fatigue and other side effects of dehydration.
The general rule of thumb is to drink one cup (250mL) of water for every 15 minutes of exercise that is completed. It’s important to continue drinking water following the completion of the workout.
Staying properly hydrated will not only provide lubrication to protect the joints and sensitive bodily tissue including the spinal cord, but it’s also the cheapest and easiest way to lose weight. It increases metabolic rate, metabolizes fat stores in the body, and creates a sense of feeling fuller which leads to a lower overall caloric intake throughout the day. In addition to aiding weight loss, staying properly hydrated leads to clear glowing skin, a cleanse of toxins in the body, a boost in the immune system, prevention of headaches and other general ailments, and an overall increase in mental and physical performance.
Are a poor diet and overeating preventing you from achieving your fitness goals? Water preloading before main daily meals is the key to overcoming the poor diet obstacle. A study with two groups of participants had one group drink 500mL of water 30 minutes before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while the other group was instructed to imagine their stomachs being full before each meal. Twelve weeks later, those that took part in the water preloading group lost twice as much weight as the other group. Staying properly hydrated is the key to your fitness success.