You’ve probably heard this before: you are what you eat. But here’s the thing – you are what you drink, too! The human body is two-thirds water. As the hot and hazy days of summer continue, here’s some timely information we all need to remember regardless of our fitness level.
Drinking adequate amounts of water has many benefits including:
- Regulation of body temperature
- Alleviating fluid retention
- Distribution of nutrients and oxygen to cells and organs
- Improvement of metabolic function
- Decreasing appetite
Personally, I find that last point a little hard to swallow. 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 appetite. (Anyone who knows me knows I do love to eat!) However, will say when I’m hungry and nowhere near a healthy snack, drinking a glass of water can stave off my hunger long enough to avoid eating something I’ll regret later. (Chewing gum works for me 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
To punctuate just how important water is to the body: the body can go for a long period of time without food, but can only survive for a few days without water.
Here are the guidelines of what we should be drinking when we exercise, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):
- Drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise. In warmer weather, feel free to 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).
That last bullet brings me to an important point made by Brent Brookbush and Rick Richey, the amazing NASM instructors who taught the Personal Fitness Workshop I took back in March. If you have just one hour to spend in the gym or running through the park, or only time for a 45-minute spin or strength training class, why would you want to put all the calories back in your body that you’re working so hard to burn?
Now, I know there are some people out there who simply can’t stand water and need some flavor. There are plenty of zero calorie flavored water options available. In my personal opinion (which is backed by many articles I’ve read on websites ranging from WebMD to ACSM), 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, something as simple as drinking (water!) to your health is an easy way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!