You work hard in the gym; Sweat runs down your face and you drink some water. Great idea! However, simply drinking water won't keep your body properly hydrated - in fact, the combination of losing sweat and replacing it with water alone can leave you dehydrated and even ill.
Yes water is important we would die without it and need to drink it daily but the truth is if you don't replace and replenish lost minerals your body and health will suffer.
With summer just around the corner, your sweat rate will increase and with it the need for proper padding. Here, ah Alldredge, President of Hydration Health Products, shares his knowledge on how to properly hydrate your body, which in turn increases energy, promotes faster post-workout recovery, and just plain makes you feel better.
Drinking too much water can actually harm you
Water is good for the body, so keep drinking it. However, if it's pure water that isn't fortified with electrolytes (or your diet is lacking in certain minerals), it can have a negative impact on your health.
Drinking only pure water will rid your body of its much-needed stores of minerals and electrolytes, which are essential for bodily functions like a regular heartbeat. And drinking too much water is a recipe for disaster. “Your kidneys can process about 32 ounces of water an hour; After that, there is a risk of hypokalemia, or more commonly hyponatremia, which can lead to irregular heartbeats and, in the worst case, death,” warns Alldredge.”
"Just drinking too much water dilutes your blood electrolytes," he adds, which can then damage your body and cause frightening symptoms. Simply put, overhydration with water alone leads to dehydration.
The best way to avoid this is to make sure you're getting the right electrolytes and minerals every day — especially if you exercise regularly.
Minerals that support hydration
Electrolytes are minerals that your body needs to function properly. Pay attention to these 4 essential electrolytes:
Options for hydrating drinks and food
"The average person loses about 2,500 mg of electrolytes per pound of sweat," says Alldredge, making these hydrating beverages and foods a perfect way to stay hydrated.
- Coconut Water: A cup of unsweetened coconut water contains 9% of the daily value of potassium (and has only 45 calories).
- Watermelon (and other melons): These fruits are loaded with water and minerals, making them a great choice for post-workout hydration.
- Smoothies: Berry-focused smoothies are high in fiber; Pack a large batch of vitamin C and you're free to add your favorite electrolyte powder. Add a frozen banana for texture and a potassium boost.
- Milk: Milk contains protein, fat, potassium, magnesium and calcium and is a perfect addition to your protein shakes due to the many minerals and vitamins.
- Yogurt: With 85% water content and similar benefits to milk, yogurt is packed with probiotics and minerals to help your body stay hydrated.
- Cucumbers: Made with 96% water and packed with minerals, add these to your salads or dip them in hummus to help keep you hydrated.
Alarming Dehydration Facts
Alldredge shares some key dehydration facts that place an important focus on staying properly hydrated.
- Three percent dehydration equates to a blood alcohol content of 0.08, reducing your reaction time by 17% or increasing your chances of an accident by five times.
- 3% dehydration reduces cardiac output by 20%.
- Dehydration is the most common reason for a decline in athletic performance.
- Dehydration is why OSHA regulates hydration in the workplace to increase productivity and reduce the chance of injury.
- For every milliliter of alcohol consumed, your body produces 10ml of urine; Excessive urination causes your brain to shrink, resulting in headaches/hangovers.
- Seventy percent of Americans walk around dehydrated on a daily basis, this is the leading cause of daytime sleepiness and headaches, many hunger pangs are misdiagnosed when it is dehydration as you lose cartilage in your joints, dehydration makes joint problems worse.
signs of dehydration
Although these symptoms can mean you are dehydrated, this is not always the case. If you have these symptoms, it is best to consult your doctor.
- Dark-colored urine or very light-colored urine if you are overhydrated
- Dry or cracked skin
- drowsiness and dizziness
- Low blood pressure
- Altered mental status or difficulty concentrating
How to know your fluid balance and what your urine should look like
If you're feeling "off" and want to know your fluid levels, Alldredge recommends getting tested.
"The best way to find out how hydrated you are is to have a fluid test — there are some pretty sophisticated saliva tests these days," he says. Consult your doctor or licensed dietician for more information.
Another way to tell if you are hydrated or not is to look at your urine. "The ideal urine color is pale yellow, clear means you're overhydrated," says Alldredge.
Tracking your urine color and how you're feeling can help guide your fluid journey and keep you on track or getting you going again.
What you should look out for when drinking a drink
As with anything else, not all drinking beverages are created equal, so it's important to check what the labels say. "The average American consumes 161 pounds of sugar a year," says Alldredge. "To burn that amount of calories, you'd have to run 53 days non-stop."
But here's the thing, electrolytes need a transport method to get to absorption across the intestinal membrane. "Sugar is effective, but it also has its downsides, like blood sugar abnormalities, bacterial feeding, and calorie count," says Alldredge.
If you don't need the extra calories, Alldredge suggests you look for a product that's sugar-free and has a delivery system.
w that your minerals are on point, here's how much water you should be drinking
"Sweat rates increase when it's 68 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer," explains Alldredge. He adds that when the outside temperature is at least 30 degrees, the sweat rate can be as high as 4 to 6 pounds per hour, depending on the intensity of the work being done. Therefore, it is important to prioritize proper hydration and knowing how much water your body needs (or doesn't need).
When it comes to hydration, "a big goal is to drink half your body weight in an ounce of liquid a day," says Alldredge. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, try drinking 100 ounces, he says.
“Muscle & Fitness readers like to work hard in the gym and sometimes play outside of the gym; Focusing on hydration/rehydration accelerates recovery and enhances the gains they're looking for in the gym,” he adds, motivating to stay hydrated and gaining weight at peak levels.