Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know that we should probably drink more water. We say it to ourselves a few times a year, make plans to up our intake, and then usually forget about it. Water’s not flashy – it doesn’t promise you super-hero-like performance or instant awesomeness. What it does do is keep your body performing optimally, and without it, you would die.
Your body is roughly 60% water, and the water in your body serves all sorts of roles. A huge amount of your body water is contained within your cells or is attached to molecules like proteins and carbohydrates. Water helps to transport nutrients through your body, it helps to dissolve compounds for use in the body, it provides a medium for all sort of chemical reactions necessary inside of you, helps to cushion impact to your body, transports waste, regulates your temperature, and is pretty much the most important thing ever.
A certain amount of body water loss daily is to be expected; we lose water through sweat, urination, defecation, and through our skin and breath. We run into trouble when our fluid output exceeds our fluid intake.
Seriously, people. Hydrate well and hydrate often. If you are cutting significant weight (more than a pound) from pre- to post-workout, you are probably not hydrating enough. If your pee is darker than lemonade, you are probably not hydrating enough. If you’re going four to six hours without peeing, you are probably not hydrating enough.
- 500 ml of fluid on the night before exercise
- 500 ml in the morning
- 500 to 1000 ml, 1 hour before exercise
- 250 to 500ml, 20 minutes before exercise
Make sure to take a gulp every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise. For every pound of sweat lost during exercise, rehydrate with two cups of fluid. You are also losing sodium and potassium in your sweat, so it can be helpful to include a sports drink in your mid- and post-exercise hydration strategy.
Symptoms of dehydration can include (from Precision Nutrition):
- dry skin
- fatigue and weakness
- increased body temperature
- muscle cramping
- darker-coloured urine
- dry mucous membranes (mouth, nose, eyes)
Thirst is not always an accurate marker of how much fluid you need, especially when exercising, so remember to keep sipping your water throughout practices, games and training sessions.
Some tips to help keep you hydrated!
- Hydrate before, during, and after your game(s). Game days, I carry my water bottle with me all day. Use sports drinks if it’s really hot, or if you have to compete more than once in eight hours. During the game, your focus should be hydration, then immediate fuel if necessary (like protein bars or liquid nutrition).
- On that note – Carry a water bottle with you through your work day and never let it run dry.
- Drink a glass of water within 30 minutes of waking up – it will help to lubricate your joints, and it’s a good way to start your day off right!
- Have a calorie-free beverage with every snack and meal (that means water or green tea, not calorie-free soda!).
- Eat more fruits and veggies – their high water content will help increase your hydration level.
- Don’t be afraid to jazz up your water – adding a squirt of citrus, some chunks of fruit, or choosing a carbonated water are all options to keep you drinking enough of the good stuff!
Need more convincing? Check this article out!