As the summer months begin to creep in, especially here in Austin, I get asked more and more how to stay hydrated. Now before we get into some of the nitty gritty of this, please keep in mind that every body is different and therefore we all have different needs. When it comes to hydration this is an area that is subjective to the person and region we live in. For instance, I drink (try to, let's be honest I am human) roughly 2-3 gallons of water per day. To the average person this is a lot. When you factor in the fact that I have been an athlete and very active my whole life, and I live in a very hot and humid state this suddenly doesn't seem like so much.
When it comes to hydration we think water is the only way. While it is the main way there are a few other things involved that KEEP you hydrated throughout the day. Let's take a look.
For starters, we need water to help metabolize and breakdown nutrients and remove waste from the body(including fat, this is why water helps you lose weight!). When your urine is a dark yellow, that is because you are dehydrated and your urine has too much urea in it. In order to remove harmful waste and toxins in the body we need to drink plenty of water to continue to flush them out. We also lose water in our tears, sweat, feces, breath and spit. So there are multiple ways to become dehydrated throughout the day if we aren't paying attention.
Your food can be a source of hydration! Eating foods that carry electrolytes, such as cucumbers, salads, citrus, etc will help you stay hydrated throughout the day so you're not tediously drinking gallons per day. You also want to drink more than just water. Giving the body a small break for a tea or cold-pressed OJ is a great way to stay hydrated as well.
Electrolytes are an important part of hydration because they not only give an electrical charge but they transport nutrients. So keeping these in your foods and even squeezing a bit of lime into your water can really boost your hydration, especially in those hot summer months.
We also need to remember that while we all need at least one gallon of water per day, that amount changes person to person. These factors are determined by sex, age, weight, activity level and where you live. All of these affect how much water you need to stay hydrated and functioning. Let's be honest, no one wants to be dehydrated. Did you know it only takes 2% into dehydration for your brain and muscle to slow down and begin to stop functioning? That's not much! We also must remember that it takes longer to hydrate than it does to dehydrate the body.
So, the first thing we should do upon waking it drink at least one 8-ounce glass of room temperature water straight out of bed. This will also boost and jump start your hydration from the very start of your day! How amazing is that?! Remembering to do this first step, is actually a pretty great way to set the tone for your day as far as water consumption goes. You want to set yourself up for success, not failure. If you are going to workout you'll want to consume at least 2 16-ounce glass/bottles of water before beginning any rigorous activity. If you are only working out for about an hour or under, you really only need water. If you are going HAM all day, you may want to throw a NuuN tablet or some BCAAs into your water. I never really recommend a sports drink as many of them are pumped full of caffeine and/or sugar. The sugar is really what will get you. Adding that extra sugar may make it taste delicious and give you a bit of energy boost, however it also dehydrates you. So I tend to stay away from drinks like Gatorade, Poweraide, Vitamin Water. Yes even VITAMIN water is not good for you. The reason you feel you need more is that sugar is taking over baby!
Now you know the basic facts and operations of hydration. Grab your jug and mark it every hour if you need a reminder to drink. But whatever you do, drink that water daily!
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