All Athletes, from the “elite” to the “occasional”, benefit from proper hydration.
With nearly two-thirds of the human body consisting of water, hydration is essential when it comes to general health, performance and body composition. Specifically, our friend, H2O:
helps keep skin healthy,
is important for digestion and excretion,
can control calorie intake by providing a “feeling full” effect, and
assists in virtually every task in the body.
Without proper hydration:
exercise performance may be compromised,
the risk of muscle pull or injury during a workout increases,
painful muscle cramps may sneak up on you, and
cognitive ability can be impaired.
How much should I drink?
The old adage of eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day generally satisfies an individual’s need for hydration, but when you factor in exercise, extra water may be needed to replace fluids lost during training. Basically, you need to replace the water that your body loses as you sweat.
What should I drink?
While maintaining proper hydration levels with good old-fashioned H20 is the easiest and cheapest route, other beverages such as no-sugar-added fruit juices, milk, and decaf tea and coffee can all help in the hydration process. However, when consuming other beverages aside from water be sure to use caution. Certain fruit juices and sodas are often loaded with added sugar, and many “energy” drinks can be loaded with excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar. Limiting your “caloric beverage” intake by sticking to water will surely help you stay hydrated, performing optimally, and also keep your body composition in check.
But if plain ol’ water is boring you, fill up a pitcher of water each morning with wedges of oranges, lemons and/or limes for an extra boost of flavor throughout your day, and pick up a few beneficial nutrients along the way.
Or for the occasional refreshing treat, try an icy glass of seltzer or sparkling water (the kind with zero calories, zero sodium, and zero sugar) with your favorite fruits.
How do I know if I’m dehydrated?
Well the truth is you can take a look at the color of your urine. Dark yellow urine is often the best sign of dehydration. Aim to keep urine clear or as close to clear as possible to help assure you are properly hydrated. Drinking a large glass of water during each meal as well as keeping your water canteen with you during exercise are both great ways to ensure you are on your way to adequate hydration.
Sometimes we will find ourselves dehydrated (maybe due to excessive training, gardening in the sun, etc.) and water may not be sufficient in and of itself to adequately re-hydrate. Often, we turn to Sports Drinks for electrolytes and simple sugars, but unfortunately these products can be loaded with more sugar than we need, not to mention artificial colors and other chemicals. While Sports Drinks can provide electrolytes and sugars that will re-hydrate us more rapidly, the unwanted byproducts are often present as well. So, bottom line, limit the number of Sports Drinks you consume. And as an alternative, consider trying Coconut water, as this is a great way to allow nature to help us replenish those depleted electrolytes.
What about alcohol?
For you social drinkers, those alcoholic beverages can lead to dehydration (i.e., that familiar cramping during your workout the following day), not to mention that unwanted pesky body fat. So, we should definitely think twice about those “couple here, few there” cocktails. Rationalizing these alcoholic beverages are easy, but the last thing we want to do is compromise our exercise efforts or sabotage our clean eating efforts.
Week 5 Quiz:
1) Alcohol consumption is not really related to added body fat: a) True b) False
2) Adequate consumption of H20 plays a role in all of the following EXCEPT: a) Helps keep skin healthy b) Is important for digestion and excretion c) Can control calorie intake by providing a “feeling full” effect d) Counter acts any alcoholic beverages you consume
3) Which of the following can be a result of improper hydration? a) Exercise performance may be compromised b) The risk of muscle pull or injury during a workout increases c) Cognitive ability can be impaired d) All of the above
4) Many “energy” drinks can be loaded with excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar:
a) True b) False
Once you've taken the quiz, click here to see how you did.