Importance of Staying Hydrated Year-Round
Happy summer, Fitness Enthusiasts!
As the temperatures heat up, pay an extra attention for the body’s need to cool down. “Easy!” you say… “Ice cream time!” Not so fast! Did you know that ice cream could actually warm the body up? Yes, the immediate sensation is a cooling one, but once the body begins the digestion process, the contents of this delicious summer treat (specifically fats, carbohydrates, and protein) the energy production as a result of digestion will warm the body up.
Beer? Nice try again, though this would not help either. Alcohol dehydrates the body and leads to what’s called vasodilation (a flushing effect, which is caused by widening of blood vessels. Ever experiences a warming sensation in the face after consuming an alcoholic beverage? This is flushing).
So what is the big deal with staying hydrated? Well, for one thing, humans may survive 30-40 days without food, however will survive only 3-5 days without water. Approximately ¾ or 75% of our body consists of water. Specifically:
- Muscle consist 75% of water
- Brain consists 90% of water
- Bones consist 22% of water
- Blood consists 83% of water
And if that wasn’t enough, water acts as a cooling mechanism and aids in heat injury (heat stroke) prevention
How Do I Know If I Am Hydrated?
Below you will find a chart, which summarizes the importance of adequate water consumption for the physical performance. It also serves as a reference chart for the urine color. Remember, the urine color should be clear / pale tan (the only exception will be if you are taking a multivitamin or supplement containing B vitamin complex. In this case the urine will be neon yellow in color following the supplement consumption).
- Tiredness / “Spaced Out” Feeling / Foggy Brain
- Headache (or migraine)
- Muscle Cramps
- Irregular Blood Pressure
- Kidney Problems
- Dry Skin
- Dark Urine (See Urine Color Chart)
(20% dehydration may result in death)
- Water transports nutrients and oxygen into the cells
- Moisturizes the air in lungs
- Helps with metabolism
- Protects vital organs
- Helps our organs to absorb the consumed nutrients better
- Aids in digestion processes
- Regulates body temperature
- Maintains healthy fluid balance
WATER + ELECTROLYTES (“electro” = energy = “lyte” = to carry)
What to Drink?
Water is your best bet. You may also enjoy a variety of herbal teas and some green tea. Stay away from sports and energy drinks, as these tend to be high in sugar and empty calories (and yes, diet & sugar free soda should be omitted as well).
Do not consume fruit juices.
Try enhancing your water with lemon & lime slices. Add mint leaves & cucumber slices as an enhancer if you cannot drink your water plain.
You may want to try ice cube enhancement technique (brew chamomile tea or any tea of choice, add lemon slices to it, pour into ice cube mold and freeze; once frozen add the enhanced ice cubes to your water and sip throughout the day)
How Much to Drink?
Have you been following the 8 X 8 mantra? How many times have you heard that you should be drinking eight (8) glasses of water 8oz. each per day? Yes, water is a very important nutrient, however 8 X 8 is a very simplified way to think of hydration. Age, gender, physical activity, health status, and body size all play a role in how much water one should be drinking.
If you are a numbers lover, as a general rule of thumb, you may divide your current weight in pound by 2 to get the number of ounces of water (liquid – many vegetables are high in water content, and herbal teas/broths all count towards daily liquid consumption) to drink per day:
Example: If someone weighs 160 lbs., their daily water consumption would then be 80 oz. (160/2 = 80)
If you are physically active, drink 8-16 oz. of water prior to your exercise routine and then continue drinking water during your exercise (generally 8 oz. per 15 minutes of physical activity). You should also replenish water post exercise with another 8-16 oz. within half an hour after you are done with your workout routine. If you perspire a lot, you may consider adding some seat salt to your water to replenish the electrolyte balance (more on that in our later posts).
How Can I Drink This Much Water & How Do I Remember to?
It may take a while to get your body used to drinking enough water. Make sure you sip on your water throughout the day and do not gulp it all in one sitting or in the evening (to prevent the unnecessary bathroom trips during the nighttime).
Take a sip every 15 minutes (you may want to set an alarm on your phone to remind you). There are also different apps available for smart phones to track your daily water consumption (type “water consumption tracker” in apps store search bar and chose the one you like the most).
Eventually the body will be trained to drink enough and will adapt. In the beginning you may have to make extra bathroom trips, however, as the body adjusts, the water consumed will be utilized for the bodily functions (hence decreasing the excreted amount).