Keeping your body hydrated is one of the easiest ways to keep your body in tip-top shape. As natural as it is to drink water, we sometimes forget how easily we become dehydrated and just how much water we need to keep our bodies functioning smoothly.
Why is hydration so important?
At least 60 percent of your body weight is water. Between 4 and 10 percent of your body’s water content is replaced every day with fresh intake of fluids. Without an influx of fresh water, your body becomes dehydrated.
Dehydration can range from mild to severe. Even mild dehydration can cause noticeable problems in how you feel and how you’re able to perform. Severe dehydration can result in death.
Mild dehydration will begin with your body’s water to mineral ratio falling too low. Your body will then trigger a thirst sensation. Remember that thirst always follows dehydration. By the time you feel thirsty, you’ve already lost about 1 to 2 percent of your body weight in sweat and other fluid loss. To get an idea of how this works, measure yourself before and after a strenuous workout or training session. All of that weight loss is in sweat. Some athletes may experience up to 5 pounds of fluid loss.
Studies show that athletes who lose more than 2% of their body weight in fluid loss experience cognitive problems and begin to lose their ability to perform, especially in hot or humid weather. You can withstand slightly more dehydration as a strength-based athlete versus those whose sports demand endurance. However, dehydration should always be avoided, as it can cause other issues for your heart, brain and other vital organs.
Signs that you’re mildly to moderately dehydrated
- You’re even slightly thirsty
- You have a dry mouth
- Your urine is darker than a pale yellow
- You haven’t urinated for 8 or more hours
- You stop sweating
Signs of severe dehydration
- Rapid heartbeat and/or respiration
- Confusion or irritability
- Dry, wrinkled skin like a raisin
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Shock leading to unconsciousness or delirium
Remember that severe dehydration can be permanently disabling and may result in death. Get medical attention immediately if you suspect you or someone else is severely dehydrated.
Tips and Tricks for Staying Hydrated
The following tips should help you maintain the hydration you need to stay healthy and perform your best.
- The Mayo Clinic recommends the average man needs 3 liters of water per day while the average woman needs 2.2 liters. This is a good base, but you will need even more on days you train or play. Expect to add at least 1 more liter for heavy exercise, especially on hot days.You may want to try this handy Hydration Calculator for a better idea of how much water you need based on your weight and activity level.
- While sodas, fruit juices, coffee, tea, etc., all count as liquids that you body uses for hydration, keep in mind that sugar and caffeine can have a counter effect. Count non-water drinks as ½. This means 1 cup of soda equates to ½ a cup of water.
- You can increase your water intake by adding water to sports drinks and fruit juice. This may also help reduce your excess sugar intake.
- Your food can also be a good source of water. Lettuce, spinach, watermelon, grapefruit and other similar fruits and vegetables can be a great source of water, vitamins, and minerals.
- To help keep track of your water intake, consider carrying a large liter bottle of water. Refill it 2 to 3 times per day for easy tracking.
- Interestingly, you can over-hydrate. Having too much water can lower the sodium levels in your blood and vital organs causing a condition known as hyponatremia. The symptoms of hypnoatremia include muscle spasms, convulsions, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, loss of appetite, and headache.
- If you experience these symptoms following a large intake of water, seek medical attention. Severe cases of hyponatremia can cause loss of consciousness, coma, brain herniation and even death.
Latest posts by Zayn (see all)
- Does Running Build Muscle? - May 16, 2017
- Dave Palumbo Diet: High Protein And Excessively Low Carbs - May 11, 2017
- Does Whey Protein Expire? - May 2, 2017