Friday’s Food For Thought: The Liquid Edition

Welcome to June!

We’ve had some warm and sticky weather here in New York City since the Memorial Day weekend, so I thought it was the perfect time to remind everyone about the importance of staying hydrated.

I often talk about the fact that the human body is an amazing machine, but it’s important to remember that machine is made up of two-thirds water. Like anything else, if you want the body to keep running properly, you need to give it what it needs.

Here are some of the benefits of staying hydrated:

  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Alleviating fluid retention
  • Distribution of nutrients and oxygen to cells and organs
  • Improvement of metabolic function
  • Decreasing appetite

I’m still waiting to feel the effects of that last bullet point. I do my best to drink the recommended 5-7 glasses of water each day, but I don’t know how much effect it’s had on my overall appetite. (I love to eat!) However, I admit if I’m hungry and nowhere near a healthy snack, drinking a glass of water can stave off my hunger just long enough to avoid eating something I’ll regret later. (Chewing gum works in a pinch, too.)

Now let’s look at some of the physiologic effects of what happens when you don’t consume enough water and become dehydrated:

  • Decreased blood volume
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased core temperature
  • Sodium retention
  • Decreased sweat rate

Think of it this way: the body can go for a long period of time without food, but can only survive for a few days without water.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) offers the following guidelines for drinking water when exercising:

  • Drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise. In warmer weather, you can add an additional 8 – 16 oz.
  • During exercise, drink 20 to 40 oz for every hour of exercise.
  • If you exercise for more than 60 minutes, you can re-hydrate with a sports drink containing up to 8% carbohydrate to replace both fluid and dwindling muscle glycogen stores.
  • When exercising for 60 minutes or less, water is best. (My personal choice).

Here’s how I rationalize that last point: If I’m pressed for time and can only squeeze in a 30-minute elliptical session, I’ll burn up to 340 calories. During that time, if I guzzle a sports drink like Gatorade or Vitamin Water, I’ll consume 125 calories.  So I walk away from a shorter than normal workout, and I’ve only burned 215 calories. That is not the post-cardio high I was looking for!

I realize some people simply can’t stand the blandness of water and need a little flavor. Luckily, there are lots of  zero-calorie flavored water options available. Remember, having a flavored drink with zero calories (or 5 calories if you add one of those flavor-crystal packets to your water bottle) is better than NOT drinking anything at all.

In the end, raising a water bottle to your health is an easy way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

About LauraLovesFitness

After spending more than 10 years in the communications industry, this lifetime fitness lover and newly certified fitness professional wants to share my passion for health and well-being with others.

Posted on June 1, 2012, in Fitness, Health, Nutrition and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Absolutley we put all that hard work in the gym why sabatoge all the benefits by drinking unwanted calories! Why not drinnk the all natural H2o that God intenteded us too drink and reap nothing but rewards!

  2. My point exactly, John! There are also more fun things to save the calories for! Have a GREAT weekend!

  3. My fav are the Propel packets. I dump them in a old Gatorade bottle and let them chill while at the gym or mowing the lawn. Thye last about 3 seconds when I get home. I hate filling my trash can up with all the plastic bottles so I resue them with the help of a water filter…and the Propel.

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