By the time we feel thirsty, we've already become victim to the performance killer of summer months. Yep, dehydration. Our bodies - including muscles - are mostly water, so we need plenty of it to function, and more importantly to excel at being active and fit.
When we don't get enough, things start to break down. Our form, our race pace, our pedal stroke, etc. Without proper hydration, it all starts to shrivel and wither like dried fruit.
I blogged recently about ways to make hydration less dull, but given that we're entering into the hottest, longest month of summer (soaring temps, humidity at 800%, no college football yet, oh the horrors!), it seems a good time to go back over a few basics of how, when and why to hydrate.
The 5 Ws of Water:
Who (needs it): We all need to drink water or get water from food sources like fruits and veggies, but it is absolutely critical for those of us workin' on our fitness. If you've ever been a quarter of the way into a hot, humid August afternoon workout only to remember that your last sip of water was at breakfast, you know what I'm talking about.
If food is like the fuel that keeps a car going, water is the oil you need to run your engine at its best. In these hot afternoons or even in the dark, humid mornings, anyone exercising outdoors needs to account for the water lost in all that sweat. This is obviously true for anyone living in humid places like Florida, but just as much of an issue for fitness fiends working out in hot, dry climates. The rapid evaporation of sweat can trick you into thinking you aren't losing a lot of water - but do not be fooled. So if you're a Badass working on your Badass Journey, keep drinking!
What (kind): For the average exerciser, plain old water is the only hydration necessary to get you through a typical workout session. I love Gatorade G Series and Advocare Rehydrate for long exercise sessions or if I'm teaching back to back high-intensity classes, but unless your workout is longer than 60 minutes, water will do. For endurance races and longer training sessions, aim for 4 to 8 ounces of a sports drink every quarter hour or so. Throughout the day, get your water from the glass AND the plate - the water-rich fruits and veggies in meals and snacks help keep your hydration in check. Even oatmeal is 85 percent water! Also keep in mind that dehydrating liquids including coffee, tea and alcohol will set you back in your hydration 'count.'
When: Remember that the goal is to never actually feel thirsty, to stay ahead of the hydration curve. So when you're just going about your day, sip regularly. Also a good habit/schedule:
- As soon as you wake up, down a big 8 to 12 ounce glass of cold water.
- Do the same before lunch and before dinner.
- Before working out, within 1-2 hours of the session, drink 2-3 cups of water. (For an experiment, weigh yourself now and then again after the workout to see how much water weight you've lost...see the Water Math below for more on that).
- When you are working out, the recommended hydration for workouts of an hour or less is 4 to 8 ounces every quarter hour.
- If you're working out for longer, instead of water go with the same amount of a sports drink every 15 minutes.
- If your pee is darker than the color of lemonade (the ideal), you are likely dehydrated. If it is totally clear, you are plenty hydrated.
Where: Wherever you are, that's where your water should be. There is a large glass on my desk all day, constantly being filled and refilled with water. When I do errands and go on road trips, my stainless steel TRX water bottle is always in my hand or in my backpack, a constant hydration companion. If this isn't yet a habit for you, work on making it one. If you are an "out of sight, out of mind" type, always keep that water in sight. Make the water bottle akin to a toddler's security blanket - indispensible, and always within reach.
Why: More like why NOT? There's a reason our bodies can go days and days without food but need water to stay alive. Water is necessary for digestion, absorption and transport of nutrients, biochemical reactions, etc. We often think we're hungry - when in fact we just need water. Repeat after me: We. Are. Water. We. Need. Water. We. Are. Water. We. Need. Water. It is the magic liquid that makes our bodies function and hum smoothly. Without it, we will perform half-ass instead of Badass. So drink up!
And here's a little math to live by:
Daily intake: Aim for 1/2 to 1 ounce per pound of body weight. So yes, the more there is of you, the more water you need. A 150-pound person needs at least 75 ounces and up to 150 ounces, or 9 to 18 glasses, daily.
Replenishing: For every pound of water lost during your workout, drink 8 to 20 ounces of water.
Coming up: The Trigger Point roller meets ice, a product review...and a cycling playlist to roll through.