The importance of staying hydrated

Here's a question for you - do you think you drink enough water?

Typically, when you start on any new training program, you’re told to drink two to three litres of water a day, without being any wiser as to why this is the case. Well, in short, a hydrated body functions much better than one that is dehydrated.

All your body’s functions and chemical reactions require water. Your muscles are 70 per cent water and your brain has an even higher percentage. A small reduction in hydration levels can see performance being dramatically affected, which not only impacts your activity, but also your daily function and mental cognition. Aside from this, water is a major component of our blood as well as being used to protect and lubricate our joints.

Dehydration can manifest itself in many guises, such as thirst, dry skin, constipation, tiredness, headaches and even hunger, which is an important consideration if you are trying to lose weight. Dehydration can also increase your heart rate and body temperature.

So, hopefully, you can already see why it’s so important to stay on top of your hydration levels over the course of the day.

For daily consumption, drinking water is generally your best approach. However, if you struggle to drink enough or just don’t find it palatable, what I tend to do is add some flavour, like a low-calorie fruit squash. I would also tend to keep a full water bottle to hand as this helps to keep track of how much you drink over the day.

Don’t forget that you can also get water from what you eat; fruit, vegetables and even foods like stews and broths. Both alcohol and caffeine have diuretic effects, meaning they increase water leaving the body in urine and can contribute to dehydration.

One of the easiest ways of identifying hydration status is by monitoring the colour of your urine. A pale, odourless and plentiful urine, usually signifies a hydrated state. Darker urine with a strong odour can mean you are already dehydrated and need to rehydrate as soon as possible.

For any of you who are consistently training at an arduous level and sweating a lot, you will be losing electrolytes in your sweat. In these cases, rehydrating with a drink that contains electrolytes will be beneficial.

Micheál Penston is the Head Coach at FM Fitness & Nutrition based in Westport, Co Mayo. They specialise in helping busy men and women to create the healthiest versions of themselves through educating and empowering around all areas of their lifestyle from fitness, nutrition, recovery and behaviours. Find out more about their methods at www.fmfitnessnutrition.com or social media handles @fmfitnessnutrition

 

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