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Proper Hydration for Health and Performance

Fun Fact – Your body is made up of 60-70% water.

Fun Fact 2 – Just 2% body weight water loss will decrease your performance and mental function.

Fun Fact 3 – You don’t notice you are thirsty until a 3% body weight water loss.

Consuming water on a regular basis is essential for overall health, maintaining good mental function during the day, and maintaining good physical performance during your training and competitions or races.

Overall Health

All the organs in our bodies require water to function.  According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery at 31%.

Besides just the composition, water serves a number of purposes in the body:

  • Primary building block of cells.
  • Carries oxygen and nutrients to cells.
  • Regulates internal body temperature; the body uses perspiration and respiration to regulate temperature.
  • Insulates the brain, spinal cord, organs, and fetus. It acts as a shock absorber.
  • Need to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates used as food. It is the primary component of saliva, used to digest carbohydrates and aid in swallowing food.
  • Lubricates joints.
  • Flushes waste and toxins from the body via urine.
  • It dissolves minerals, soluble vitamins, and certain nutrients.

Mental Function

As stated above, the brain is composed of 73% water.  Because of this dehydration can cause or contribute to:

  • Mood changes
  • Decreased memory
  • Decreased concentration
  • Decreased attention to details
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Becoming confused and disoriented

Physical Performance

Dehydration can significantly impact our physical performance.  I’m sure you have all seen video of someone finishing a major race or event who staggers or appears dizzy, appears disoriented and confused, and/or collapses.  This is the result of dehydration.  Along with that, you may also experience:

  • Decreased endurance capacity
  • Decreased power output
  • Earlier onset of fatigue
  • Decreased concentration and decision making
  • Decreased reaction time and coordination
  • Increased risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke
  • Increased heart rate and decreased blood pressure

Water Requirements

So how much water do you need on a daily basis?

At a minimum, your goal is to consume at least ½ your body weight in ounces of water every day.  So if you are a 200 pound individual, you need to be consuming at least 100 ounces of water per day.

When you train (aka sweat), the total amount of water you consume needs to increase.  With activity, the easiest way to calculate how much water you require in order to rehydrate fully is to weigh yourself before you workout and after you workout.  The difference on the scale is what you lost in water weight.  For every pound lost, you need to consume an extra 16 ounces of water.

Consumption Tips

Does the amount of water seem overwhelming to you?  Let me make this easier for you.

  • Drink 20 ounces of water first thing in the morning when you get out of bed. From sleeping all night, your body needs the water.  Along with that, taking in the water right away starts to get your digestive system going…keeping you more regular and healthy!
  • Drink 8-16 ounces of water before every meal. Doing this will also fill your stomach a bit, making it less likely that you will eat more than your body really needs.
  • Set an alarm or notification on your phone to go off every hour of your work day, reminding you to drink water. Drink 8-16 ounces every time the alarm goes off.

Follow those tips and you will have your water requirements in before you know it!

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