The human body is made of up to 75% of water (depending on your age, body type and lifestyle). Any decrease in this amount will be reflected in your physical and cognitive capabilities. So everything in your life will be impacted negatively if you become dehydrated, not only your training performance but your work life and personal relationships. We maintain our homes and our cars and nurture our relationships… So why do we neglect our own bodies?
The lasting implications of dehydration on our health are endless. From day-to-day problems such as constipation, dry skin and mood swings to chronic dehydration which can lead to kidney stones, cholesterol issues, muscle and tissue damage, liver problems and ongoing joint pain. These aren’t problems that may happen eventually, they are inevitable problems which will happen from the effect of something so simple as forgetting to drink enough fluids.
Are you feeling thirsty? Do you have a headache? These are vital signals that you should not ignore as eventually they will have a lasting impact on your body and it may be too late to fix something that can so easily be fixed today.
The European Food Safety Authority suggests that men (average weight of 90kg) drink 2.5 litres of water a day and women 2 litres (average weight 60kg). We completely agree with this amount, but remember if you exercise a lot, listen to your body and increase this as necessary (more tips on this below).
Your thirst receptors can be insensitive if you have been dehydrated for long periods of time, therefore you may have little to no signs of dehydration. So if you read this and know or suspect that you are not getting enough fluids, the best thing to do is closely monitor and target your daily intake whilst retraining yourself to naturally remember to reach for water regularly.
The skin pinch test:
Pinch the skin on your wrist… If you are well hydrated it should spring back to it’s original form instantly. Anything less than instant is a huge indication that you need more water. But as mentioned above, you may not be showing obvious signs of dehydration if you have been continuously dehydrated for a very long period of time.
Another test to monitor dehydration is the chart below which shows optimal - detrimental urine colours:
Hydration whilst exercising
0.3 - 2 litres of fluid can be lost per hour as sweat when we exercise (depending on the heat and intensity of session). So take this into account if you are training. Additionally, small amounts of sodium (salt) or electrolytes (sugar) can be added to water to help increase your energy levels and session productivity. The maximum amount of fluids your body can absorb within an hour is approximately a litre, so you will need to be drinking water for a few hours even after you exercise, especially in severe heat!
Tips for adding more water to your daily intake:
Add natural flavours to make water more interesting: such as lemon and lime, fruit or herbal teas. There are loads of infuser type bottles on the market now to help you with this!
Food counts, so plenty of fruits and vegetables will add water into your daily intake and provide fibre, vitamins and minerals too.
Keep your water bottle handy to help you track your water intake. BPA free bottles are best and remember not to leave plastic bottles out in the heat!