Hydration, how important is it?
Hydration, it's something we often think about and know is important but how important is it? When is it more important than other times?
It’s something you’ve probably known since you were old enough to walk.
But what does it do and how much should we get?
Water serves as a lubricant for our joints, can maintain hunger signals and also acts as a recovery mechanism for our muscles to ensure we can keep pushing them in workouts. It contains minerals, nutrients and vitamins as well, but less so compared to what you can get through eating.
The hard, easy rule for people is to get half of your bodyweight in ounces per day of water. That means about 70 oz if you happen to weigh 140 pounds. When it comes to staying hydrated you should also know that by the time you’re feeling thirsty in a long workout, it’s already too late.
Even a 2 percent level of dehydration can lead to significant declines in your overall performance.
So what do we do about it?
The biggest thing is to get ahead of it as early as possible. Wake up in the morning and start your day off with a tall glass of water. Get ahead of it as early as possible. I find this strategy works the best for clients in making sure their hydration goals are met.
Then keep a bottle by your side throughout the day.
To answer your next question as to whether it’s just water that counts, no not only water counts. If you like drinking a few Bubly’s, flavoured water, etc., knock yourself out. Getting in enough fluid is still a higher level issue than not getting enough water in general.
As for coffee, count one cup towards your daily total and move on. In the past, we in the nutrition considered coffee or any form of caffeine a diuretic. However, after much research the scientific community debugged that myth, proving that while it may not be something that actively contributes towards rehydration it also doesn't actively dehydrate you in the same way that say consuming a case of beer would.
Additionally, we've found in clients as well as in research that those who increase their water intake are also able to reduce their cravings and overall appetite, meaning that those who have weight loss goals are going to be better equipped for losing weight. Yes, that means the old adage that if you're hungry you should have a glass of water, does in fact, carry water (pun intended).
So... in terms of some actionable items for you to take on?
1) If your urine is dark yellow, it could be a good time to measure your fluid intakes for a few days and see where you're at. We're aiming for light yellow here.
2) Drink half your bodyweight in ounces per day for a week and see what happens.
Like many things, when it comes to nutrition and finances, what gets tracked gets improved. If you take the time out of your day to track your fluid intake, there's a good chance you'll improve it or at the very least learn that what you're doing isn't holding you back from performance, aesthetic or health related goals.
Drink in your success!