If you neglect your hydration now is an ideal time to shift your focus. Often when we are hungry we are lacking fluids therefore staying adequately hydrated can benefit our nutrition. The exact amount of water we need will depend upon our weight body and the level of physical activity we do. Aim for 2-3L water a day and in extreme heat add a pinch of salt. If you are office/desk based fill up a bottle & pour your glasses throughout the day so you can track the amount you drink.
What does water do for you?
- It is needed to form saliva which helps with the digestive process.
- It allows the body’s cells to grow, reproduce and survive.
- Flushes bodily waste, mainly in urine.
- Lubricates the joints and acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord.
- Regulates body temperature (sweating and respiration).
- Water is used by the brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters.
- Helps deliver oxygen through the body
When, What & How much should I drink?
This is valid in general & particularly if you participate in sports/endurance events.
You should be hydrated before exercise. Being slightly hydrated by 2% of body weight found runners speed to drop 6-7% in a 5000m & a 10,000m run. Monitoring the colour of your urine will give you an indication of your hydration levels. Water is a good option but if you plan to exercise at a high intensity for longer than an hour you might benefit from a sports drink.
The more you sweat, the more you need to drink. Studies show that you can maintain optimal performance if you replace at least 80% of your sweat loss during exercise. Ensure that you do not force yourself to drink only when you feel the need otherwise you can dilute your blood & sodium levels will fall (hyponatremia)
To restore normal fluid balance after exercise, researchers recommend that you should consume approximately 1.2-1.5 time the weight of fluid lost during exercise. Sports drinks might be better at speeding recovery after exercise. Water alone can cause a drop in blood osmolality (i.e. dilutes the sodium in the blood) which reduces your thirst & increases urine output so you might stop drinking before you are rehydrated. I encourage a pinch of salt in water to avoid it passing completely through the body.