You probably heard growing up that you should drink 8 glasses of water per day. Is this enough, or too much? The answer depends on a number of factors such as how much muscle or fat you have, and is a different answer for every individual. Our bodies are about 65%-70% water, less so if you have more body fat because body fat contains no water. Water is super important as it serves as a transport vehicle, lubricant, and can regulate heat loss by sweating.
Here are some facts about water:
- The majority of water is stored around the cells and in the bloodstream.
- The average adult uses about 2.5 litres of water a day.
- Our food consumption is a source of fluid – about 500ml per day.
- Drinking 2 litres of fluid per day keeps most people hydrated. If you training jiu jitsu, you will need more!
How can I tell if I am drinking enough water?
There are many factors which influence your fluid balance. One way to see if you are on track is to take a look at your urine colour first thing in the morning. It should look like pale lemonade. If it looks this way you did a good enough job the day before of hydrating yourself. If your urine colour looks like apple juice, or there is a small amount, then you did not do a good enough job drinking enough fluid the day before. Thirst is a poor measure of hydration because there is a lag between the time you get dehydrated and the time you actually experience thirst. The older we get, the less sensitive the thirst mechanism is. If you want to measure your hydration level during physical activity, weigh yourself before and after exercising. We have a scale at our club, so you could try this as an experiment. A 1%-2% decrease in body weight can decrease your performance by 15-30%!. Think of how significant this statistic is. Ensuring you are not dehydrated can be a dramatic way to enhance your performance.
Are sports drinks a good idea?
If you are exercising less than an hour at moderate intensity, water is a good choice. If you are exercising for more than 60 minutes you may want to consider a sports drink to provide electrolytes (sodium) which is lost in sweat. If you have experienced muscle cramps during training this could be related to the amount of sodium you have lost while sweating. Sports drinks provide a flavoured fluid which people tend to drink more, electrolytes (sodium), and some calories. A sports drink is something you should only use for intense exercise and not as a lunchtime beverage.
You can calculate your sweat rate: the number of pounds lost in physical activity. Each pound lost is 473ml of sweat; to rehydrate, you need 473ml to 710ml of fluid.
Here is a link to Gatorade Powder which will reduce the use of single use plastics while saving you money!
How do I know when I am dehydrated?
Dehydration is characterized by weight loss, confusion, dry skin that is hot to the touch, and possible an elevated core body temperature. In a hot climate, dehydration can be dangerous and result in thermal injury. Overhydrating can also be dangerous, which means you have been drinking so much fluid that you dilute the amount of sodium in your blood.
What about energy drinks?
Energy drinks can have a dehydrating effect. There is typically a significant amount of caffeine in energy drinks. There are also B vitamins and amino acids. We do not know the long-term consequences of energy drinks. Coffee and tea would be a safer option. There are great photo-chemicals and antioxidants in coffee and tea. Because the caffeine is wrapped in whole foods, it behaves differently from the caffeine in an energy drink.
Tying it all together
In summary, ensuring you are properly hydrated is essential to performing well. Consider a sports drink if you will be exercising intensely for over 60 minutes. If your first morning urine looks like apple juice, or there is a small amount chances are you did not do enough to hydrate the previous day.
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