Everything you need to know about hydration

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In this article I will be addressing the topic of hydration. How important is it to drink water? How much water should you drink per day? How does exercise affect water intake? I will answer these questions and dispel some myths that you often hear surrounding hydration.

In recent years you have probably noticed a rise in the number of people carrying water bottles around with them. Staying hydrated has become a trend of sorts and for the most part, this is a good thing. However, some people go slightly overboard and can become obsessive about staying hydrated. Of course staying hydrated is important but this new trend of drinking lots of water is something that is now becoming overrated. For optimal health, staying hydrated is important and allowing your body to get too dehydrated or stay dehydrated for long periods of times can be detrimental for health but most people who are reading this will not be chronically dehydrated nor be at risk of severe dehydration. If you are urinating more than 3 or 4 times per day, your urine is light yellow or lighter and you do not feel thirsty all the time then you are probably take in enough water for optimal health. In fact taking in too much water in a short period of time can lead to electrolyte imbalance which can cause death. This is only seen in extreme circumstances however. A final point on hydration for health, you may have heard people say that once you feel thirsty that you are already dehydrated. This is not true. When you are thirsty, drink until you are no longer thirsty and this will keep you well hydrated. The only time it might be important to preemptively drink would be during intense sport or exercise which I will go into more detail now.

Hydration is a lot more important for sport and performance than it is for optimal health. When you exercise, you sweat and therefore lose water. If you do not replace your water then you will become dehydrated. When you become dehydrated, your performance will start to suffer. As low as 2% dehydration can cause significant decreases in aerobic performance. In an ideal world, you would drink as much water as you lose through sweating but it is impossible to know exactly how much water you are losing through sweat and therefore I recommend starting to drink as soon as you start exercising and if you are sweating more then drink more and if you sweat less then you may not need to drink as much. If you are doing very intense activity then you may need to drink extreme amounts if you try to replace all weight lost from sweat which can lead to electrolyte imbalance. If you are doing intense exercise for an extended period of time then I would advise adding electrolytes to your water to help combat this.

Another reason why some people drink water is that it can act as an appetite suppressant and can therefore aid weight loss. This is true but water passes through your digestive system very quickly and so will not fill you up for very long. The best method of using water as an appetite suppressant would be to drink a large glass of water before your meal. This will fill up your stomach a bit and your meal will be more likely to make you feel full than if you ate on an empty stomach. Other than that, hydration does not seem to have a massive role in body composition either.

All this seems a little bit obvious and it is. The main advice of this article is to drink when you are thirsty and mainly drink water. If you go into any more detail than that then you are just giving yourself one more thing to worry about which will likely have little no impact on health or body composition. Stay hydrated but don’t stress the small stuff.

Speak to you guys again soon.

Albie

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