I say “hydrate, hydrate, hydrate” with as much excitement and fervor as real estate agents say “location, location, location.” The topic of hydration is timely as I sit here observing my outside thermometer reading “94 degrees”. So, let’s get to the point.
Some common questions I receive:
- Do I really need 64 oz of water each day?
- How much is too much?
- What do I need to sustain my workouts and how do I know if I’m hydrated “enough”?
All valid and good questions to ponder! The first point I want to emphasize is to let thirst be the guide to your personal water intake needs. Like anything in health, fitness, or life, a one-size fits all approach is short sighted and, quite frankly, erroneous.
The second point – let’s talk about the purpose and role water has in the human body. Water is the largest component of the body, which makes up 50 o 70% of our total body weight. In fact total body water is greater in athletes than non-athletes. Say what?! Yep – it’s true.
The Wonders of Water
Water isn’t just the largest component; it is a necessary component and has incredibly important physiological functions such as the following:
- Regulating body temp
- Protecting organs
- Providing assistance with vitamin/nutrient absorption
- Blood volume maintenance
- Hydrating source for athletic performance and exercise
The loss of water (daily and during exercise/competition) is influenced by several factors: types of food and beverages consumed, sweat, waste excretion, metabolic processes and respiration (yes, we lose very small amounts of water through breathing).
How much do you need?
Well, this also depends on several factors – size, weight, activity level and environment (think hot climates vs. cold). Now we circle back to my first point – let thirst be the guide. Another easy way to determine if your “euhydrated” is to check the color of urine. If it is light yellow with little odor, you’re doing great. If it is more concentrated or dark, boost your intake.
What does this mean for exercise?
Aim for a 1:1 fluid replacement to fluid loss ratio. You want to avoid a total weight loss of greater than 2% during exercise (this is most likely in serious athletes and/or those who live and train in very hot temps). Everyone sweats at different rates; consider drinking about 8-16 oz of water each hour (on the higher end if it’s hot and humid). For prolonged exercise (greater than 90 minutes) try taking in a fluid with some sodium (Gatorade, for example). This will help balance electrolytes lost through sweating. Now, to be clear, 30 minutes on an elliptical does not necessitate the use of Gatorade or other sports drinks! Trust me, you’re not going to become dehydrated or electrolyte deficient in 30 minutes to an hour. Why take in the extra sodium and sugar if it isn’t going to be of significant use?
Tips for Promoting Hydration
- Keep water with you at your desk or near you during the day
- Replace one caffeinated beverage a day with water
- Infuse water with fruit if plain water isn’t palatable
- Drink water throughout the day – no need to down 8 glasses at once! In other words, you’re not a horse so don’t down the trough! 🙂
- Let thirst be the guide
- Keep water handy
- Monitor quantity and color of urine
- Consume water throughout the day and before, during and after exercise.
Remember, it’s All About That Balance.