Maintaining proper hydration is important anytime of the year, but even more important in the summer as we tend to sweat more. With our bodies being made up of a significant amount of water, proper hydration is essential for ALL body functions.
Mild dehydration can cause decreased athletic performance and decreased concentration and focus. As the dehydration becomes more severe, you can pass out, develop heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. Basically, as you become more dehydrated, your body’s function begins to decrease and begins to shut down.
What does being dehydrated mean exactly? With just a small 2% decrease in body weight from water, you can begin to have decreased performance and function, including athletic performance and mental focus and concentration.
The problem with this is by the time you notice any sort of thirst, you are already below that 2% mark, normally closer to 3-4% of loss of body weight of water. This means you must drink water on a regular basis to maintain hydration levels, regardless if you feel thirsty or not.
So how much water does your body need? It depends on the size of your body and your activity level.
The minimum amount of water required on a daily basis is equal to half your body weight in ounces. And this is just your starting point. If you can get more than that in, especially in the summer, the better off you will be.
When you add exercise to the mix, the amount your body requires increases. For every pound lost during a workout or training run, you need to replenish with 16 oz of water. The easiest way to figure this out is to weigh yourself before and after your workout or run and see what the difference is. If you are consuming water or fluids of some sort as you run, the numbers still apply.
For example, if you lost 5 lbs while training, you need to consume an extra 80 oz of water. If you drank water while training and that was your number, that is still your number. Because if you weren’t consuming any fluids, your overall loss would have been larger. Make sense?
For anything under an hour of training, may not be as necessary for you to take in fluids while training. For anything over an hour, though, you need to be taking in fluids consistently. It is recommended 4-8 oz ever 15-20 minutes. If you are one who’s body does not tolerate that much fluid while training, at least get a little bit every 30 minutes.
Along with the necessary water, you also need to think about replenishing the electrolytes lost when you sweat. Loss of electrolytes can cause muscle cramping, increased fatigue, lethargy, lightheadedness, and dizziness, just to name a few issues. That doesn’t even get into all the systems in the body that can be affected by loss of electrolytes.
Not sure what to take for electrolytes? You can make your own by adding salt to your water, find powders and tablets to add to your water, or use coconut water, which is a natural source of electrolytes. In the case of powders and tablets, I advise reading the labels to avoid sucralose and aspartame as artificial sweeteners in the products. Sports drinks are commonly used for electrolytes, but they also have a lot of added chemicals that are not needed in your body, especially when training at a high level.
Have more questions regarding hydration? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.