Hydration: A Guide To Drinking More Water and Improving You

Our bodies are made up of water. A lot of it.

In fact, our bodies are made up of between 55-60% water on average.

What Water Means to Our Body

Water is what gives us, and everything around us life. Without water, basic life processes will cease. Cells will dry up. And Planet Earth will become Mars. Water’s main jobs in our body include, but are not limited to…

  • Transportation of solids, liquids, and gasses
  • Being a catalyst for metabolic reactions in the body such as with our digestion of nutrients and brain functions
  • lubricating the body’s joints, spine, and eyes (eyes are about 95% water)
  • Temperature regulation through perspiration (sweating)

These are all very broad jobs. But it showst that water is very important to almost EVERY bodily function.

Relevance To Exercise

In order to effectively exercise on a macro level we need to…

  1. Regulate fuel usage (whether to use carbs, fats, or proteins)
  2. Regulate our temperature
  3. Lubricate muscles, joints, and our brain in order for proper signalling to occur.

Dehydration within a bout of exercise can wreak havoc on someone trying to get an optimal workout in. If you lack water in your body, you will not be in a position to exert yourself. It does not take much.

  • A loss of .5% body water can place strain on the heart. This is because as the body loses water, the blood cells become thicker and stickier. And the heart will have to work harder in order to move the blood around.
  • 1%  is reduced aerobic activity: Water moves blood quickly and will transport fat and glucose where it needs to go. If this is slowed down, this will be compromised.
  • 3% reduced muscular endurance: For most field sport athletes this is immensely important. That 4th quarter is as important…if not MORE important than the first 3!
  • 4% leads to reduced muscle strength reduced motor skills and heat cramps can set in. For NFL prospects entering the NFL Combine, these fine tune motor skills are much needed and can be the difference between being drafted and not being drafted.

Relevance to Fat Loss:

In order for us to mobilize fat & carbs for fuel we need water to transport those fatty acids. When we are dehydrated your body will be unable to keep up with the processes needed to accomplish this feat. Furthermore, when we are dehydrated, this can increase hunger cravings. This is due to water being in our food as well. Which can serve as a short term “thirst quencher” depending on what’s eaten. On average, we get about 1 liter of water from our food each day.

Water Rich Foods

  • fruits
  • veggies
  • boiled whole grains/legumes

Water Scarce food

  • butter
  • raw whole wheats
  • nuts/seeds
  • oils
Despite what the college kids say, pizza does not hydrate us 🙁

Since we can hydrate ourselves via a food outlet. Oftentimes if we find ourselves dying of thirst with a big plate of spaghetti in front of us, chances are you may have an extra helping, or 2!. We mistook a thirst cue for a hunger cue. As a result more calories were potentially eaten as a result. If you stayed optimally hydrated you could have prevented the additional calories that needed to be eaten. So you potentially made your fat loss protocol more difficult by feeding a thirst craving, instead of satisfying a true hunger craving. Water is 0 calories… an extra helping of pasta could be well over 200 calories!

How Much Water Do I Need?

The Institute of Medicine states everyone should have ~8-10 8 oz glasses of water per day. This is a very general guideline, as it does not factor in energy expenditure or size of the person. A better equation that we can use to determine how much water we need is…

30-40 mL*kg of body weight

So for myself. I am 190 lbs.

190/2.2 (lbs to kg conversion)

86.36 kg * 30= 2590mL 86.36*40=3454mL

So anywhere between 2.6-3.5 liters of water per day for me. Which is roughly 1 gallon of water.

Make the necessary conversions as most American bottling companies do not use liters specifically. Type it in the Google Machine 🙂

What Range Should You Fall Into?

When trying to determine how much water you should have in a day: Understand that there IS such a thing as consuming too much water. Hyponatremia is when there’s too much water relative to sodium in the body. It is very rare outside of marathon running circles. So because of that, I would not place fear into people regarding drinking water (unless you’re a Type A over achiever type). Although it is very hard to over consume at a lethal level, drinking too much water, even if it’s not a lethal dose can still be very uncomfortable. It can also be very invasive to people who are always on the go and have time sensitive tasks that need completing. It’s hard to stay focused if you’re peeing every 30 minutes! So I would always side on the lower side of this number to start, because your body will benefit from adjusting to the increased water intake. As you get more comfortable, there should be very little issue slowly increasing it to around that 40ml/kg range.

Determinants for MORE Water Intake:

  • Hot/humid temperatures
  • Exercising in hot/humid temperatures: Outside or in an air conditioned gym?
  • How long are you exercising for? 30 minute quick lunch break or a 12 mile run?
  • What type of exercise? Weight lifting or endurance running?
  • Diets limited in fruits/veggies/cooked grains

How To Get More Water In During The Day:

CBS.com reports that close to 75% of Americans fail to get 8-10 8oz glasses of water per day. So to hear that many people should be getting 84 oz at least (based on converting my liters of water into ounces) it can be a daunting task to some. When you’re trying to get into a workout routine the worst thing you can do is over complicate a task. The more complicated/tedious the task, the less likely to adhere.

  1. Buy a bigger water bottle. We typically are more likely to drink all of what is in front of us. So if we have a larger water bottle, in theory we will drink more water. Ideally go for something that can provide almost close to 1/2 of your day’s water in one bottle. The less times you need to go fill it up the better you will be!
  2. Never eat a meal without water. Keeping that mental tally will allow you to become conditioned to need water while you eat. Plus, it can also allow you to have better portion control and provide better digestion of your meal. As stated earlier, food can hydrate to some extent. So thirst could be confused with hunger, which can potentially cause over eating during the meal.
  3. Have a glass of water immediately upon waking up. This one is simple but just that little extra water in the morning can kick start your day in a positive direction.

These are a few helpful tips to increase your water intake. It is necessary to promote long term wellness in all facets of our life. If you have a goal to increase muscle, lose fat, or just become more healthy overall, the first step you need to have is ensure you’re drinking enough water during the day!

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