Whether you’re an elite athlete, an avid exerciser, or more the spectator type, there’s one common fact: you can’t live long without water. Your body needs enough water to carry out many vital body functions and help you perform at your best. If you drink only enough to water to quench your thirst, your body may still be dehydrated. So always remember to drink beyond thirst!
Being well-hydrated means the water you consume from beverages and foods is in balance with the water your body loses from perspiration, respiration, elimination and other body processes.
Here are some basic hydration tips to keep in mind:
- Drink before, during and after workouts, and more if it’s hot or your workout is long. Consider sipping your drink throughout the workout, rather than guzzling large amounts at one time. Guzzling your water is more effective for complete rehydration post workout. Rapidly drinking large quantities of fluids may actually reduce the amount of water your body retains by increasing urine production. So, it pays to slow down a bit. Every few minutes to take a swig from your sports bottle, then continue on your athletic endeavor full speed ahead!
- Use a “weigh-in” to replace water. To replace water lost from perspiration during a workout, the American Council on Exercise recommends weighing yourself before and after exercise, and then drinking 16-24 fluid ounces to replace every pound lost.
- Pick a drink with appeal. The term “water” can mean more than just plain drinking water. Of course, plain water is a great source of hydration, but if you don’t like to drink water, you can still stay hydrated by drinking milk, juice, soft drinks, coffee, tea, sports drinks, and other drinks. But be nutrition aware and realize that a big source of obesity in America is from ‘liquid calories’. Remember this saying, “don’t drink your calories.” Watch the sugary drinks – the calories add up fast (even with juice).
- Make hydration fit into your schedule. Stock up on beverages for the week so they’re ready to grab for your drive to work or to the gym. Keep water in your car, on your desk, and drink a glass of water every morning when you wake up or maybe after you’ve just finished brushing your teeth! Smart, deliberate choices soon become good habits.
- Think outside the bottle. Eat plenty of “watery” foods such as fruits, vegetables and soups – they not only contribute to hydration but they also help to regulate blood pressure and are a good source of fiber and nutrients. Lettuce, watermelon, broccoli, grapefruit, carrots and apples are just a few examples of fluid-filled fruits and vegetables.