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Stay Hydrated This Summer!

As you are well aware, summer is officially here and it’s looking to be a warm one!  

One of the ways you can maximize your fun is by staying hydrated. This may sound silly but dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, increased body temperature and cramps!

Generally, most of us do not drink enough water to begin with. When you combine this with summer temperatures reaching into the high 20s, and increased sweating, we really start to put pressure on the body. Drinking sufficient levels of water and replacing lost electrolytes* is integral to overall health! And no, beer and wine do not count as hydration!

(*Electrolytes are minerals dissolved in body fluids. This includes sodium, potassium, phosphate, calcium and magnesium. These ions are essential to normal function.)

Why is water so important to our bodies?

Water is what our bodies are made of! We are anywhere from 45-60% water depending on your body type (1). We use water as a means transport, a place where chemical reactions can take place, to filter toxins, it also lubricates joints and provides padding. We simply cannot survive without water!

With exercise and movement, our body temperature rises due to increased metabolic processes. Water is essential for temperature regulation and assisting with cellular activity during physical exercise. If that was not enough motivation, research has proven that drinking more water can help with weight loss! Water makes you feel fuller, and may also increase metabolism (2).

What is dehydration?

Simply put, dehydration occurs when the output of fluids is greater than the input.

How can we get dehydrated?

As well as not drinking enough, we can also increase our demand for fluids by increasing our activity. While we think of exercise or getting sweaty, anything physical such as gardening, walking or just heat exposure can promote dehydration. Certain medications, illness and fever can also leave you in demand of fluids!

Children and the elderly are more at risk dehydration and should be monitored appropriately. Children who play outdoor sports should drink plenty of fluids and be given “shade breaks” to allow their body temperature to decrease.

What are some sign and symptoms of dehydration?

If you are feeling thirsty or your mouth is dry, chances are you may already be dehydrated.

What do I need to look for? Some signs you should pay attention to are:

  • Fatigue
  • Mental fog
  • Headaches
  • Increased body temperature
  • Dry skin
  • Cramps

In cases of severe dehydration, vomiting, vision problems, and even loss of consciousness can occur. If you are unsure, one particularly accurate assessment of your fluid levels is checking the colour of your pee! Your urine should ideally be clear to light yellow. As you lose fluids, it becomes more concentrated and changes to dark yellow or brownish colour.

Even as little as losing 1% body weight of fluids can impact on your endurance and strength performance (1). If you are training competitively or even just for fun, even this slight change can affect your ability to reach your goal!

Prevention

Drinking water before, during and after exercise can help maintain appropriate levels of hydration. Coffees, teas and BCAAs can go towards fluid intake.  

How much water should I drink?

Precision Nutrition recommend 11 cups of water for females and 16 cups for males. Although there is no precise guidelines as everyone’s requirements are different based on activity, size, climate etc.

Can I drink too much?

Yes it is possible to drink too much water but the quantities would have to be substantial. Over hydration or hyponatremia can dilute our electrolytes to dangerously low levels. This generally occurs by drinking a vast amount of water in a short amount of time, leaving the kidneys unable to clear the excess fluids.

Tips on avoiding dehydration

Make it a habit!

Most people don’t drink enough water during the day because they simply don’t think about it!

  • Set reminders. There are now apps available that will help get you track your water intake and set goals.
  • Have a glass of water first thing in the morning to replace fluids lost at night and one before bed.
  • Invest in a water bottle that you take with you on the go or have on your desk.
  • Take regular water breaks in work and during exercise (in between sets)

Monitor your hydration status!

Check your pee and drink water accordingly.

Make it palatable!

Add some lemon, lime, mint or berries to your water to add some flavour.

Pre-hydrate!

Drink plenty of water before physical activities that may leave you sweaty rather than replacing fluids once they’re lost.

Drink more when exercising or sweating

Don’t wait until your thirsty, it may be too late!

  • Add 2-4 cups of extra water on days that you exercise
  • For every pound of sweat, you should replace with 2 cups of fluids (1)

Replacing electrolytes

With extremely strenuous activities or activities lasting +60 mins, water may not be enough to replace lost electrolytes. You may consider a sports drink, gels or dissolvable tablets. If you prefer a healthier option, homemade sports drinks are easier than you think and taste just as good. (https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/homemade-electrolyte-replacement/)

References

  1. https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-dehydration
  2. https://www.precisionnutrition.com/water-and-weight-loss

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