If you are physically active at all, you know to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Preferably with water. But WHYYYY?!
Water/fluid helps regulate your internal body temperature and helps maintain blood volume so that everything runs smoothly. The reason you sweat when you are hot is to cool down your insides. You will want to make sure you are getting enough water beforehand, during and after to replenish fluids loss so that you can keep up your strength, endurance, and overall performance not just for hardcore exercise but also for everyday activities.
FYI! JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT THIRSTY DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE NOT DEHYDRATED. Unfortunately this may not be your bodies way of telling you to drink some water. Other ways to tell would be if your urine is a dark yellow color, your skin is looking overly dry (and not just because you live in Colorado in winter), or if you feel lightheaded/have a headache. Another sign might be that you think you are hungry when you probably shouldn’t be. Try drinking a glass of water before grabbing that granola bar.
So how to prevent dehydration before it occurs…
As a minimum guideline, no matter what your activity level, you should aim for half of your body weight in ounces a day. For example, a 140 lb. person should drink at least 70 ounces of water a day.
For the exercisers…
Drink water throughout the day/night to get your minimum daily recommended guideline.
2-3 hours before exercise, make it a must to at least drink 2-3 cups (16-24 ounces) of water. This will help you hydrate and be able to excrete any excess before you exercise so you don’t get the ants in your pants while doing squats.
10-15 minutes before exercise, especially if it is an endurance event (half marathon), drink 1-1.5 cups (8-12 ounces) of water.
For every 15-20 minutes of exercise (depending on race speed, weather conditions, and tolerance) aim for around 6 ounces of water but no more than a 8 ounces. If you are pretty well hydrated going into the workout will really impact how soon you will need that for 6 ounces.
The best way to tell how much water you need is to weigh yourself before and after exercise. Replace at least 75% of weight loss, especially if you lose closer to 2% of your original body weight. For every 1 lb. lost, drink 2.5-3 cups of water. If you feel like you sweated a ton, having 8 ounces of a low sugar sports drink will help replace electrolytes that you loss during your sweat-sesh. Look for one that has around .5 g/L of sodium to help minimize muscle cramps. Either way, don’t stop drinking water afterwards! You need to be ready for the next workout!
*** Avoiding alcohol right after a hard workout will really help with the recovery. I really need to take my own advice here, but it’s almost not fair that after most races there is a free cold beer waiting for you at the finish line!
Listen to your body. These are general guidelines! If you feel that you are lightheaded, having osmotic diarrhea, or other symptoms that aren’t normal after a workout, go see a registered dietitian so that the whole picture can be looked at. A small change in fluids and nutrition can really make an impact on your body and help you push yourself to your best!
Just a little inspiration to get creative when drinking water! La Croix can count for some of your required fluid too.. 🙂
C Byrd-Bredbenner, G Moe, J Berning. Wardlaw’s Perspectives in Nutrition. 10th Edition. 2016.