Put simply dehydration occurs when we lose more fluid than we take in, which in turn upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugar) in your body, which affects the way that it functions.
Dizziness, lethargy, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting are symptoms of dehydration common to most people who are dehydrated. Many of us don’t even realise it (tip – try drinking a pint of water instead of a coffee at breakfast time and you’ll probably feel more alert – crazy!). So, as we’re in the fitness and exercise game here, how do you hydrate before, during and after training?
First of all, it is very important to understand that it can take you several days to hydrate your body after it becomes dehydrated. It is essential that your body is fully hydrated before any physical activity. Unlike carbohydrates, which your body uses for energy and stores them in your muscles; water will be expelled out once the body feels it has enough. We’ve all heard the guidelines of drinking 8 glasses of water daily, but drinking extra water the day before your event will help you keep your water levels at an optimal state. Make sure you stopped drinking water about two hours before starting your activity to give your body enough time to empty your bladder – you don’t wont to be stopping in a race, adding to your finishing time!
Secondly, do not make the common mistake of thinking that because you drank plenty of water prior to working out, you don’t need to keep drinking water. Your body can lose pounds of water during exercise so replenishing your water levels is essential to achieving your desired performance. On the other side, drinking more water than your body can handle will lead to hyperhydration; also called water intoxication. There have been several fatal situations where marathon runners have experienced hyperhydration. Most health professionals recommend drinking 10 fl oz of water every 15 minutes during your workout or drinking any moment that you feel thirsty.
What about post-exercise? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the best way to know exactly how much water to drink after your workout is to compare your weight before and after. Once you know the weight loss during the physical activity, you can replenish these fluids by drinking 24 ounces of fluid for every pound that you lost. If that’s a bit scientific, which I’m guessing it it is, then just go with how you feel; is your mouth dry? do you feel groggy? is the temperature/climate humid/hot? what colour is your urine? (if it’s really clear, its a sign you’re probably hydrated).
Water is essential for your body to function properly, after all about 55-50% of our bodies are made up of water. Staying properly hydrated before, during and after your workout can be the difference between achieving your fitness goals and on the extreme side, avoiding a life threatening situation. Remember to drink 8 glasses of water daily; 10 fl oz of water every 10-15 during your physical activity and lastly, 24 fl oz per pound lost after you are done.