Written by SBG Performance & Nutrition
How do you keep yourself hydrated? What is your go to beverage to quench your thirst?
I am proud to say that finally, after around 18 months of trying, my liquid intake is about 99% water. The remaining 1% is made up of mostly black coffee and the occasional beer, obviously.
It wasn’t always like this though. I can remember times when not a drop would pass my lips unless it was part of some horrific, E number enriched squash or sugar saturated soda drink. It takes time to eliminate these kinds of things from one’s diet and I believe it should be done as part of a wider attempt to improve health and well being.
That isn’t what I want to talk about today, though. I want to talk about the importance of staying hydrated to maintain optimal performance, both physically and mentally.
Being well hydrated helps us maintain good cognitive function, absorb water soluble vitamins, digest our food and clear toxins from our body. It also helps our muscles utilise fat for energy which is why I always make sure my clients stay well hydrated during our sessions.
We lose water in a variety of ways, the most obvious being through the process of expelling urine and sweating. Up to about a litre and a half can be lost through urine and this number will only increase if we exercise. The body has to clear toxins that are created during exercise so this can increase the amount lost through urination. However, we also lose water through the moisture in our breath. Not an inconsiderable amount either, we can lose up to 700ml of water through breathing alone in a single day.
When you become as little as 1.5% dehydrated you will start to have impaired cognitive function. People who have to spend a considerable amount of their days focusing intensely will notice this more than others. Students and people with high stress jobs for example. When it comes to exercise, if you have a higher volume session on the cards and you are even slightly dehydrated, your performance will suffer. And to all you cover models out there, dehydration can amount to a reduction in lean muscle mass. This is because the body will draw it out of there and deposit in places where it is really needed as it is the safest place to do so from. This is only temporary though as when you rehydrate, maximal hench-ness should resume (phew!). However, studies have shown that 1 rep max strength is largely unaffected by slight dehydration (not an excuse to not drink water I might add).
And it is no good using thirst as an indicator of hydration levels. By the time you get thirsty you are already dehydrated, it has just taken your body time to realise it! You can thank your hormones for this delayed failsafe.
You want my advice for getting in adequate amounts of water? I personally have a bottle of water with me at all times and I just sip on it throughout the day. If you don’t like the taste of plain water then try cutting up some lemons and/or limes and putting them in a bottle of Evian. It will give it a nice citrus-y zing and you will get a small dose of vitamin C, fibre and some electrolytes as well.
Bodyweight in kg divided by 0.024 = Amount you should be drinking, in litres, per day if you are generally sedentary. Increase by up to a litre if you are an active individual, exercising regularly.
Be good people and sip the H2O