The sports/energy drink market is booming. The marketing gurus would have us believe that their super-duper sports drink is going to make us lift more, run faster, jump higher, ride, climb or play better. Believe it or not, the truth is – if you’re feeling thirsty, your game is already over. The reason why is simple . . . Hydration
Your body is 78% water and all activities of the body require energy and hydration which is dependent upon your body’s ability to convert protein, fat, and carbohydrate to energy. This takes water. Water is also needed to make sure the signals from your brain and neurotransmitters are being properly delivered to the sites that you need to balance, coordinate and perform your sport or activity. Water is also needed for over a thousand other functions. As you can see, water is extremely important, and getting dehydrated is the last thing you want to do.*
The Vital Nutrient
The water the blood uses to control its volume, transport oxygen and carry nutrients begins to change locations in order to bring things under control. Blood vessels dilate pulling free water out of extracellular reserves to thin the blood and circulate the needed oxygen and nutrients.
Without enough water in your system, the blood thickens and the nutrients of oxygen and fuel the muscles need to satisfy the demands of the work we do. While all these changes are taking place inside, you may notice yourself sweating.
The moisture from your perspiration comes in contact with the air and begins to cool you down. That is what is supposed to happen. When you don’t have enough water to supply the demand you need to satisfy normal homeostasis, dehydration begins.
Without enough water you will get tired faster, your muscles will get heavier, you may get light headed or begin having difficulty focusing. You may try to blow it off and push through your body’s signals to hydrate but by the time you get thirsty and want your expensive sports drink, your body has used up its reserves trying to adapt.
You lose approximately 500 to 1000 ml of fluid per hour during a light exercise session which could be about 1 to 2 pounds of body weight. During a more rigorous workout in a hotter environment, you could lose 1500 to 3000 ml of fluid in an hour or about 3 to 7.5 pounds of body weight.
What to Do about Hydration
Here are some variables to consider prior to engaging in vigorous activity (workout, sport, etc):
- How much alcohol, coffee or tea have you consumed? Caffeine is a diuretic, as is alcohol. The more of it you drink, the more water you need.
- What medications do I take? Medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, antihistamines, and beta-blockers interfere with normal kidney function and should be compensated for with extra hydration.
- What does my urine look like? When it is clear, you have enough water in your system. The darker your urine the more concentrated the blood and the more at risk you are of dehydrating.
- What am I wearing? Some materials will hold the heat in once soaked with sweat. You want to make sure your clothing is loose fitting and able to breathe.
How Much Water?
We’ve all hear people say that we need to drink 8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day. That, however, is a generality. We are all individuals with individual needs so the following formula is the easiest way to determine how much water you need per day. Simply divide your body weight by 3 and consume that many ounces of water a day – minimum. As an example, a person weighing 150 pounds needs 50 ounces of water – and that’s before even thinking about a beer, coffee, tea or soda.
Don’t take your water needs for granted, especially if you’re working out. Carry a water bottle with you at all times, and sip from it regularly. During your workout, you should take a gulp of water every few minutes. Cut back on your use of diuretics, such as coffee and alcohol. And, finally, check your urine – the lighter it is the more likely that you are on regulating your water intake correctly.
* Fitness Disclaimer
This website offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis treatment. The author of this article is not a medical professional.