We need water to stay alive. Yet, we lose it all the time through sweating, respiration and excretion. Staying hydrated is important for many reasons; it lubricates joints, can help delay the onset of fatigue, regulates body temperature and brings nutrients to cells to name just a few.
Adequate hydration before exercise ensures optimal physiological and performance responses. Unfortunately, many individuals workout in an already dehydrated state, which can put them at a disadvantage for performance and recovery.
How Much Water Do I Need?
So, how much water should you drink?
Most adults need about three liters of water every day. But, as always, many factors should be taken into consideration:
- Larger individuals need more than smaller individuals.
- Sick? You will probably need extra fluid replacement and electrolytes, too.
- If it’s hot out or dry, you could use 500 mL more.
- And if you’re working out hard, you could be looking at up to six liters a day!
For example: when individuals workout and work in warm environments, their water needs can be considerably larger than those for sedentary individuals and may increase up to 10 liters/day.
Estimate your fluid needs by using this calculation:
- Body weight in pounds divided by 2.2= Body weight in kg
- Body weight in kg x 30-40 mL of water
- If you prefer to work in ounces, take that number in mL and divide it by 29.5
As with your nutrition needs, water needs will vary depending on the above as well as how long and how intense your workouts are. Be sure to consider the amount of time you spend exercising. You will need additional fluid around the time of exercise and more if it’s hot out.
Why is hydration important for kids and teens? Hydration is the key to feeling energized. Even if you feel as if you drink a lot of water, drinking water when you are at school all day and then practice in the evening can be a challenge. Creating a hydration schedule can help get you in the habit of drinking at regular times throughout the day.
Use this as your starting guide:
• Girls and Boys 4 to 8 years = 7 cups
• Boys 9–13 years old= 10 cups
• Girls 9–13 years old= 9 cups
• Boys 14–18 years old= 14 cups
• Girls 14–18 years old= 10 cups
8 gulps is roughly equal to 1 cup of fluid. If you stop and take 8 at least 4 times throughout the day, you consume 4 cups of water without even realizing it.
1 gulp = ~1 ounce of fluid! 8 gulps = ~ 1 cup.
Water makes up about 55-60% of our bodies.
Over half of you is water.
Bone (22%), body fat tissue (25%), muscle and brain tissue (75%), blood (83%), eyes (95%), etc.
For example, if you are a 130 pound female, your cells are soaking in about 72 lbs of water on most days. If you’re on your menstrual cycle, it will be more. Our body composition and hormones all play a role in how much water we carry around.
This is one of the reasons that the bathroom scale doesn’t always tell the whole story. Weight fluctuation from fluid balance can affect the number on the scale more than you might realize.
Water is critical for most of our body’s functions.
- Water helps to dissolve proteins, bring nutrients to cells and carry waste products away.
- Water helps to lubricate joints and acts as a shock absorber for the spinal cord and eyes.
- Water helps to regulate our body’s temperature. When we workout, our body temperature increases…and we sweat. As the sweat evaporates from our body, it cools us off.
Electrolytes (minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) are often lost in urine and sweat.
If sweating lightly, water is an acceptable fluid replacement beverage, but many individuals lose a large amount of sweat during training and that loss can be accompanied by a large electrolyte loss. While plain water is a good thirst quencher, it’s not effective to rehydrate in this case. Only when water is combined with foods/liquids that contain sodium, chloride and other minerals will sufficient water be retained to promote rehydration.
Hydration from Food
Depending on our diet, we can get water from the food we eat.
Foods like raw fruits and veggies are mostly water, high-fat foods, like nuts and butter, have very little water.
Even coffee and tea, pre/post workout supplements can help with hydration.
Yes, caffeine acts as an diuretic, as it increases urination. But it doesn’t increase the ratio of excreted fluids to fluids taken in, if you are accustomed to it. The body adapts (as always).
But, if you are drinking excessive amounts of caffeine, its diuretic effect will drain your body. Generally though, the typical 1-2 cups will have a minor effects.
The more dehydrated your body is, the more concentrated your urine becomes which makes it a darker the color. That being said, make sure you’re peeing light yellow to pale or clear pee…that reflects a good balance. #peecolormatters
Our body helps us regulate hydration needs through thirst so we take in more water when we need it, but it’s not a perfect system. There’s a “lag time” from when we lose fluid and feeling thirsty. We typically don’t notice the sensation of thirst until we’ve lost about 1-2% of our body water.
And unfortunately, even a slight dehydration can lead to decreased focus, performance and concentration.
Importance of Hydration
We lose water when we sweat, if we don’t drink enough before, during and after, losing even small amounts of water can directly affect our performance at the box and energy levels throughout the day.
The following occurs as fluid loss affects bodyweight:
- Losing only 0.5% of body water could result in an increased strain on your heart to pump blood through your body (this means your heart rate will have to increase to deliver the same cardiac output).
- If you lose just 1% of body water, you could decrease your aerobic endurance.
- If you lose 2% of body water, you could experience a measurable decrease in performance
- If you lose 3% of body water, you could be looking at headaches, dizziness, a reduction in muscular endurance and a 5% loss in power output.
- If you lose 4%, it could result in reduced muscle strength, decreased motor skills and an increase in heat cramps.
- If you lose 5%, you could be looking at fatigue, 30% decreased work capacity, reduced mental capacity, even cramping and heat exhaustion.
- If you lost 6% of your body water, it could result in physical exhaustion, heat stroke and even a coma.
What’s your sneaky tip to make sure you’re getting enough H2O? Do you add fruit? Use an app?
Share your answer on our Facebook page.
Learn More About Staying Hydrated
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