Why Hydrate

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blog hydration

The performance winner and performance killer!

Firstly, the basics. Why is it so important that we stay hydrated? Well we would think that the answer to this is simple and for the most part it is. However, when living a sedentary lifestyle drinking over 2 litres of water a day is never really top of your things to do list. Quite frankly it should be. Your body depends on water to survive!

Every cell, tissue, and organ in our body needs water to work correctly. You lose water each day when you go to the bathroom, sweat, and even when you breathe. You lose water even faster when the weather is really hot and when you are physically active. For example, when we hear that we need 2 litres of water a day that’s just so your body can maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints (do the basics). This for me wouldn’t cover the extras that we do like keeping fit, going to the gym, etc. Beverages like Tea, Coffee and all alcoholic drinks are all dehydrating fluids and will eliminate water from your body. So if you are thirsty make sure you are not drinking any dehydrating fluid. You’ve got to understand that up to 60% to 70% of our body weight is water. Think about that for a minute, now imagine our body is a luxury sports car. You would look after it, you would service it regularly, keep it topped up with oil, oh and you’d always make sure it has enough WATER! We are the most amazing machine ever created yet we fail to even do the basics for ourselves.

Did you know: drinking the right amount of water daily can actually speed up your metabolic rate and help to curb overeating when your body confused hunger and thirst.

So how does this measure when we have it right? The peak of human performance these days is measured in matters of milliseconds and advanced hydration has a serious role to play. With the massive influx of advanced hydration drinks and supplements, general sports science and nutrition now has a special emphasis on optimising human hydration performance at all ages! Optimum hydration is a key and an essential part of every athlete’s and aspiring athlete’s training program regardless of fitness level or age. Simply put, optimum hydration can be the difference between winning and losing.

The simplicity and the knowing how to hydrate before during and after training sessions has revolutionized human performance over the years. During high intensity training and activity, the heat that is produced from our workout is dissipated through the process of sweating (loss of fluid & electrolytes). Like before, imagine your body is that wonderful luxury sports car. Electrolytes to the body is what motor oil is to your car. They don’t make the engine run, but they’re absolutely pivotal to keep everything running smoothly. Our whole on-board system - digestive, nervous, cardiovascular, and muscular systems depends on adequate electrolyte levels. Even muscle cramping, though there are many theories as to why it happens, usually involves improper hydration and/or improper electrolyte replenishment.

Where do sports drinks fit in? Since both carbohydrates and fluids are necessary during training and events. Some sports drinks, not all sports drinks go a long way in providing adequate carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluids to fatiguing muscles. Apart from water, which from the tap does not have electrolytes. Some of the more typical fluids that are used during long training and events include hypotonic & isotonic sports drinks as well as gels. While I don’t agree with all of them, some would argue that each has their own special place based on the discipline.

The breakdown. Hypotonic drinks generally contain less than 4g of sugar (carbohydrates) per 100ml. A hypotonic drink is absorbed more quickly by the body than just water on its own, which is an incredible achievement but a whole other article. An isotonic sports drink generally contains more and up to 8g of sugar (carbohydrates) per 100ml. An isotonic drink is absorbed by the body as quickly as water. So when we get back to performance being measured in terms of milliseconds. Hypotonic for us delivers the muscle stimulating electrolytes and fluids quicker. Without effective hydration management, athletes will fatigue prematurely and, as dehydration progresses, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke can result. Finally, recovery from intense activity requires nutrients that will replenish muscle glycogen stores, body water, electrolyte, etc. Proper nutrition during the recovery phase is essential for rapid and effective recovery and for optimal performance at the next event or workout. We will cover recovery and its importance in later articles.

Tie it all together. How much water do I need per day? A good guideline for the minimum daily intake of water for our body weight is highlighted by Paul Chek. This amount of water is the minimum you need a day to assist your cells to function at optimal level. It is calculated based on our body weight in kg’s, divided by 0.024. This level of water intake works out at 1 litre plus 1 cup (1250ml) for each 30kg of body weight.

For example -a 90 kg person would require 3 1/3 litres per day= 90kg divided by 0.024 = 3.75 litres per day

Remember, cola, lemonade, alcohol and caffeinated beverages do not count as water intake as they are dehydrating and strip water from our bodies. We also have to remember that if we exercise or it’s a hot day we have to increase our water intake. Also we lose at least half a litre of water each day as we breath. This will increase to at least 1 litre if the day is hot or we are doing exercise. So remember more is good!

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