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  • Understanding the importance of drinking enough water

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    Franco Richard

    If there is one thing that unifies many of us when it comes to our workout plans, it is that we are not drinking enough water. Water is a critical part of everyday life. It flushes toxins from our systems and helps us stabilize our body temperature after a workout but in addition to its role as a thirst-quencher, consuming the recommended amount of water per day can have tremendous benefits to your overall health.

    Upping your water intake will bring with it a range of health benefits (as well as a LOT more trips to the toilet), but what will actually happen over a prolonged period of correct consumption?

    Chronic dehydration can hugely affect your energy levels, as well as provide huge benefits to your skin. After around a week, you should notice an uptick in your ability to push a little harder in the gym. Your flexibility will increase, leading to noticeably more comfortable hamstrings which can be worked on further with a routine of yoga.

    When your body begins to adapt it will put the water to better work, reducing your need to pee 20+ times per day and easing out strain from your muscles and fascia, assuming that like most of us you have been overlooking your body’s need for H20, the added levels will translate to increased recovery times after a hard session.

    Some people even begin to report that their body takes to craving a tall glass of water first thing in the morning, a suitable and healthier alternative to guzzling down a cup of joe to shake away the cobwebs.

    Do you know how much you are supposed to drink daily?

    Life is centered around the need for hydration. The earth itself is 70% or so water, our bodies are 70+% water, the same goes for most animals. The need for water is essential for all life on this planet. This fact is even more accentuated when discussing athletes and high-performance achievers. Luckily, there are hacks to assist all with their hydration goals. The first major hurdle must be overcome; increase your water consumption! 

    A gallon, or around 3.75 liters, is the recommended consumption level for a month-long test — a figure which very few of us actually hit per day. After 30 days, you can reduce it to around 3 liters (2.2 for women).

    Most people do not drink enough water. 

    Yes, we understand, between work, family life, and everything in between things can get lost in the daily deliverable. Yet, water should be treated like an actual action item, so have a water bottle with you at all times and keep filling it up! Unfortunately, just drinking a ton of water doesn’t mean your body can use it all. To achieve a hydrated state, your body needs to absorb the fluids. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work properly. For example, water is needed to maintain body temperature, remove waste and lubricate your joints. Proper hydration is essential for overall good health. Many people treat thirst like hunger. If you’re hungry, it doesn’t matter if you eat now or in a few hours, even the next morning. Humans can stay without food for up to 40 days. Without water that number drops to 3 days. This is a clear indication, water should not be treated as food. If you are thirsty now, you should drink now. Who was it that put it so well? Obey your thirst! Waiting a few hours to drink just gets your body used to drinking less at the expense of your hydration; it won’t help to drink 3x more later. The body gets dehydrated a lot quicker than we imagine. Even a 2% dehydration slows down reflexes, brain function, and muscle response.

    Some symptoms of heavy dehydration:

    • Dizziness, lightheartedness
    • Feeling nauseous
    • Cramps
    • Slowed or stopped sweating
    • Fast heartbeat

    Drink Water Daily

    You should drink water every day. Different people need different amounts of water to stay hydrated. The popular narrative is that you should drink 6 to 8, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. 

    8 glasses of water per day is the average

    For some, fewer than 8 glasses may be enough. Others may need more than 8 glasses each day. If you are concerned that you are not drinking enough water, check your urine. If your urine is usually colorless or light yellow, you are well hydrated. If your urine is a dark yellow or amber color, you may be dehydrated. Though urine color can be used as an indicator, it is not a precise measurement, other factors may affect the color of your urine. Consult your doctor to have a proper measurement of your body’s hydration. One technique to roughly calculate how much water one should drink is by multiplying the body weight by 0.4oz. For example, a 200lb person should drink 200 x 0.04 = 80oz of water per day. 

    For people who exercise, the recommended hydration procedure is:

    • Drink 15 to 20oz of water over the 2 hours before exercising
    • Drink 8oz of water 30 minutes before exercising
    • Drink 8oz of water every 20 minutes during your exercise
    • Drink 8oz of water 20 to 30 minutes after your exercise

    For athletes, it is recommended not to go by thirst, rather drink at regular intervals. If you wait until you are thirsty, most likely it’s too late and you are already dehydrated. Dehydration can be measured by weighing before and after exercise. For every 2 pounds of body weight lost, drink 1.5 liters of water. This water consumption should be spread over a couple of hours, not drank all in one shot. 

    I take a hydration break every 20 to 40 minutes when I’m working out. I drink a quantity of water and pour the rest of the bottle over my head.

    The 30-Minute Rule

    Many doctors and health experts advocate drinking thirty minutes before eating. This helps to keep the body hydrated without disturbing digestion. Water takes longer to absorb while you’re eating, it also dilutes the digestive juices in your stomach making it harder to digest the food. We are all used to eating and drinking at the same time, if possible, get used not to mixing drinking and eating. Drink water first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, 8 to 16 ounces is great, some say drink 32 ounces first thing in the morning. Cold water is absorbed more quickly than warm, western medicine believes cold water is better. Eastern medicine follows that one should drink warm water. Each one can drink at the temperature they prefer, the essential thing is to drink plenty of water, so drink often. Little and often keeps you more hydrated than drinking a lot in one shot. Water can’t be absorbed if it passes through your intestines too quickly. Again, check your urine. It’s basic, but a good indication. If it’s very dark, you are on the dry side. Very light or translucent, you need to drink a bit less. Golden light, you’re golden.

    Sports Drinks

    It goes without saying, water is the best way to hydrate naturally. For people pushing their limits, sports drinks may bring additional nutrition to help the body get more energy and deliver more performance. When selecting a sports drink, carefully read the nutrition facts label. The first thing to look at is how many servings are in the bottle. If it’s 2, then all the numbers should be multiplied by 2, if it’s 3, multiply everything by 3. Special attention needs to be paid to sugar and sodium. Drinks with high sugar and/or sodium content should be avoided. 

    The Sodium Secret

    There needs to be the right balance of electrolytes for your drinking water to be quickly absorbed. Ironically, the conduit is an oft-overlooked condiment that can aid your body in its water absorption. A pinch of sea salt! According to Livestrong, Salt water may be necessary for extreme athletes after a heavy workout in hot weather due to high losses in both fluid and sodium. As we said, this is for extreme athletes only. Always consult your doctor before adding sodium to your diet.  You need some sodium and a bit of glucose in your water. Sea salt, not table salt, has all the minerals you need. Sodium binds to water in the body to maintain the proper level of hydration inside or outside our cells. This is not to be overdone as we have been told for years, too much salt can be bad for us. However true, a little can go a long way. A little pinch of sea salt per liter/quart can help.

    Francombat has more tips in store for you! Until then, keep coming back for the hack! And please don’t forget to like this blog post and share it with your friends.

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