It’s a strange thought that our bodies are made up of around 60% water. Over half of me is made from liquid?! Huh? It's not rocket science to realise that water intake is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to fitness, we often spend time planning how much carbs, fat and protein we eat, but do we really give our water intake enough thought? Virtually every function in our entire bodies requires water, so we and the guys from Optimum Nutrition want to give you the best hydration information. Grab yourself a drink… besides, you can’t live without it!
When we workout, our bodies use a lot of fuel (this is starting to sound like rocket science), because our bodies are essentially a vehicle… we have to replace the energy we use. Our body uses the macros we consume as energy (carbohydrates, proteins, fats), but that still comes with a cost to our water levels. When our bodies break down the fuel supply the muscle contractions produce heat. Heat and water are NOT friends. When our core body temperature rises too high, we lose water and electrolytes in the form of sweating. When the sweat evaporates from our skin, it carries all that water away with it!
As little as 2% water loss can have a significant effect on your overall exercise performance. This is why it is super important to maintain adequate hydration during and after exercise, if you want to grow to your fitness potential!
Do I Need a Sports Drink?
Enough about water. We all know there are lots of other fitness drinks on the market, but is all the hype worth it? Actually, yes. As we mentioned earlier, when we exercise we don’t just lose water, we also lose electrolytes. Electrolytes are required to maintain balance in our bodies, and the most common ones are sodium and potassium. Now, where do sports drinks come in? When we sweat excessively, or are exercising for longer than 60 minutes, the drop in electrolytes can go beyond what a simple drink of water can fix. Sports drinks are specifically formulated to replenish electrolytes. They even have the added benefit of containing some carbs, which will help you keep going for longer. I knew there was a reason that every Village Gym has a sports drink vending machine… small tips like this can really help you up your fitness game!
Tips to Stay Hydrated
Hydration recommendations are highly individualised and also depend on time and intensity of activity, temperature, and training status. Here are some general guidelines for hydrating before, during, and after activity:
Consider drinking 16-20 oz. of water 4 hours before exercise. Never engage in physical activity without adequate hydration… you will feel very fatigued and could potentially faint from overheating and increased heart rate.
Ensure to hydrate throughout exercise… if you are exercising for over 60 minutes, or feel as though you are sweating excessively, grab yourself a sports drink!
We recommend hydrating regularly throughout the duration of the exercise. This will help you tolerate drinking more liquid in total, which is more likely to maintain those water levels.
Now it's time to replace the water lost from sweating. As a rough guidance, weigh yourself before and after exercising and this will give you an insight into your water loss. Make this up by drinking 16-24 oz. of water for every pound of body weight lost!
As with everything fitness related, your body is unique, so the amount of water needed differs from person to person. There are personal factors including your body weight, cooling ability and how effective your body is at heat acclimatisation. There are other environmental factors involved like the weather, or the temperature inside the gym. Thank you to Optimum Nutrition for the insight into the importance of hydration.
And remember… if you start to feel dizzy during exercise, reach for a refreshment. Be proactive and hydrate!