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Today I would like to talk about hydration. Hydration is one of the most important concepts for you to understand. It seems simple, and it is, but it is also something that we can easily forget to do, and the consequences of dehydration are quite negative to your overall health and to you reaching your fitness goals.
We will talk about general hydration, what it is, how to be hydrated, how it helps you meet your goals, and what to drink to be hydrated.
Let’s get started!
Hydration vs Dehydration
Hydration is simply the process of replacing water in our bodies. Our bodies lose water all day long in various ways, such as, sweating, breathing, peeing, pooping, through tears and in our saliva. If we don’t make an effort to replace the water we have lost, we will become dehydrated. When we are dehydrated, we do not have the proper amount of fluid in our bodies to allow all the systems to function at full capacity. Dehydrated you is less able to function normally throughout the day than hydrated you.
The amount of water we need to stay hydrated varies from person to person, and as importantly, from day to day. If you are working outside in the sun you will sweat more and you will need more than the usual amount of water to stay hydrated, The standard eight, 8 ounce glasses of water is what we need on a regular, non-active day. As the activity level increases, the amount of fluid needed also increases. If you are lifting weights, please increase the level of hydration, as muscles need water to recover and grow.
Why Hydration Matters
Staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining the function of every system in your body, and therefore to staying healthy. Your heart, your brain, and your muscles all rely on water to function properly. Even you joints use water for lubrication.
The fluids in your body also carry the nutrients to your cells, they flush bacteria from your bladder and they prevent constipation. The proper amount of water in your body is necessary for all your systems to get rid of waste and prevent disease.
Every cell in your body contains water, including skin cells. A hydrated person will have smoother and more plump skin, and in fact may look younger. A hydrated you is a younger looking you!
Again, every cell contains water, and n=muscle cells with the proper hydration level will be bigger and fuller than dehydrated cells. Drink water, look bigger!
How Do I Hydrate?
There are two simple ways to hydrate: Drink and eat. Throughout the day, we can normally get the amount of water we need to keep everything functioning properly just by eating and drinking. It isn’t a huge amount of water that we need – just 30 – 50 ounces of water a day.
A few glasses of water will do the trick. One in the morning when you wake up, one with breakfast, one with lunch, one with dinner, and one before bed should do the trick.
There are other things you can drink to hydrate. Coffee (more on this in a minute) and tea, milk, coconut water, almond milk, and sports drinks will all have a hydrating effect on your body. Beware of the sugar content in sports and energy drinks.
If you are eating whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, then the remaining water needs will be met quite easily. There are many foods that will assist in hydration including watermelon, cucumbers, celery. Blackberries, lettuce, cottage cheese, soups that are water based, yogurt, radishes, carrots, spinach, grapefruit, oranges, and apples, to name a few.
Staying hydrated is not that difficult. What you will find, if you are properly hydrated, is that you will be going to the bathroom more than usual. As you increase your fluid intake, your body will increase it’s flushing of toxins and you will need to urinate more often. As you stay properly hydrated over time, your body will become accustomed to this amount of fluid, and your frequent trips to the bathroom should slow down. Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
Is Dehydration Really That Bad?
In a word, Yes! Dehydration is not a state you want to put your body into. There are a few tell-tale signs of dehydration. You may feel weak and dizzy, your blood pressure may drop, and you may be confused. The obvious signs of dehydration are an increased thirst and a dry or sticky mouth, dry eyes, and a lack of sweat.
A surefire sign that you are dehydrated is your urine will be a darker colour than usual. I heard somewhere that you will know if you are properly hydrated if you could read a book through your urine. Don’t do it; but if it is clear enough that you could see through it easily enough to read, then you are hydrated properly.
Other signs of dehydration could be headaches, blurred vision, muscle cramps, or even fever.
That should be enough of a list of uncomfortable side effects to make you want to stay hydrated.
Seriously, just drink something!
Coffee – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Truth!
Coffee is the most consumed beverage on the planet. There are so many studies that have been done about coffee that it would be impossible to reference all of them. There are also so many outcomes and conclusions from those studies that it is simple to find a study to corroborate the fact that you want to put forth.
Studies will say coffee is good for you; or bad for you; or good for you if you only drink a little; or if you drink a lot. You can find any conclusion you would like. Click here for a detailed look at coffee and it’s many benefits. As I say in the article, there are many benefits of coffee from many studies. But what are the facts about coffee and hydration?
The fact is that coffee has a hydrating effect on your body. It is, after all, made with water. So even though it is a diuretic (makes you pee and poop), it still has a net effect of hydration. That being said, the main reason we drink coffee, other than the great taste, is for the caffeine. Caffeine was the replacement for cocaine in Coke, when cocaine was no longer a viable ingredient, so the drink would have the same effect on the body. Caffeine and cocaine effect the same part of the brain, giving us the boost in energy and mood we are looking for.
What about coffee and the body builder? Should weight lifting and coffee drinking go hand in hand? Perhaps, but caffeine also has other effects on our bodies (other than an increase in energy). It will cause the adrenal gland to release more adrenalin and cortisol in to the bloodstream. The increase in adrenalin is not a bad thing, as it gives us more energy and assists in breaking down fat. It’s the cortisol that we need to avoid. Cortisol will increase blood sugar and lower the effects of the immune system. Cortisol also limits amino acid uptake and protein synthesis, both of which are vital to growing muscle. High levels of cortisol will also lower testosterone. Click here for a more detailed look at testosterone and cortisol.
My advice (remember I am not a professional) is that anything in moderation is probably OK. The same goes for coffee. If you are having a reasonable amount of coffee in a day, you are probably not doing yourself any harm. If you are making it a better coffee by adding MCT oils and brain activating ingredients (like butter) then it is even better for you.
Moderation is the key.
Hydration and dehydration. It is all in your hands. Literally. Pick up a glass and drink some water. Your body will thank you for it but operating smoothly and functioning at its highest capacity.
Thanks for listening.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
See you in the next post.
Have a great day!