Your Hydration Sucks: Here’s How to Do it Better
Drink more water, improve your hydration. Boom, article over.
Or, perhaps we should dive just a little deeper into this whole hydration thing considering most of my clients sucked at it (Sorry guys, you know it’s true) and I’m guessing you do as well.
You intuitively know you should drink water and you learned at a young age that the majority of your body is made up of water, but yet you still probably don’t drink enough.
Is it because your football coach told you water makes you weak?
No Denzel, I’m not outside my mind, I just want people to be hydrated.
It’s easy to disregard proper hydration, focusing on lifting weights and eating healthy food, but you are missing an important piece of the “get in shape” puzzle.
Why You Should Care
Do you want to feel more energized and get better results from your training? Sure you do. That’s why you should care about hydration.
In terms of improving body composition, drinking enough water will do a few things for you:
- Speed up your metabolism. If you are dehydrated your metabolism will actually slow down, due to the amount of bodily functions that require water to take place. Without enough water the body doesn’t function as it should and a slower metabolism is the result.
- Improve you workouts. Water plays a critical role in muscle contraction. If you drink enough water you’ll have better workouts and be able to train at a higher intensity without cramping like Bron Bron…
- Give you better control over your hunger signals. A large number of people are mistaking being thirsty with being hungry. You could see where grabbing more food instead of drinking more water could be an issue for the ole’ waistline.
Proper hydration also helps improve your overall health and makes you feel better through more effective digestion which clears away toxins efficiently and enhanced transfer of nutrients to your cells through your blood. Not to mention that water lubricates joints and regulates body temperature.
Look, hydration is important and if you’re consistently drinking enough water good shit will happen (Pun intended).
How Do I Know If I’m Hydrated?
Check your pee. Seriously, you aren’t doing anything else while you pee, you might as well take a look. If your urine is dark in color and looks more like swamp water than bottled water you know you’re dehydrated. Other symptoms of dehydration can be:
- Muscle cramping (Remember LeBron?)
- Feeling thirsty
You may have heard this before, but if you are thirsty then you are already at least a little dehydrated. In an ideal world you’ll actively be consuming fluids so you don’t get to this point. With dehydration leading to general feelings of shititness, it’s obvious that you should drink more water, but how much exactly?
How Much Water Should I Drink?
More than you are. I’m just kidding, but not really. Since you’re probably dehydrated you do need to drink more but you that’s way too vague.
In an excellent post, fitness bro-thority John Romaniello suggested drinking one liter of water per 50 pounds of body weight and an additional one cup of water for every cup of coffee you drink.
The team over at Precision Nutrition had some great recommendations as well:
- Men: 16 cups per day (About 3.8 liters)
- Women: 11 cups per day (About 2.6 liters)
- 500 ml of fluid on the night before exercise
- 500 ml in the morning
- 500 to 1000 ml, 1 hour before exercise
- 250 to 500ml, 20 minutes before exercise
- 2 cups for every pound of sweat lost
The exact amount you drink isn’t the issue, but the message is clear (Get it?) – drink more water!
3 Things You Can do to Stay Hydrated:
First off, it’s important to realize that hydration is an active, not passive task. You have to make it a priority and consciously think about it, at least in the beginning, to ensure you’re drinking enough. Also, with drinking more water you’ll pee more, but you know what that will force you to do? Get up and move. This is especially important if you work at a desk all day. Think of it like this – If people can use smoking as an excuse to take a break from work, you can use peeing as excuse to take a break from work. Enjoy it. With that in mind, the following strategies will help you drink more water and stay hydrated every day.
1. Drink Water as Soon as You Wake Up
As soon as you get up in the morning, start drinking water. I tend to keep a water bottle in the fridge and as soon as I get out of bed I start drinking from it, finishing all 20 ounces before I leave my apartment 30-45 minutes later. You can wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy or whoever the hell else you want, but when you do get up, do yourself a favor and drink some water. Yes, that was a Kesha reference. No, I’m not sorry about it.
2. Keep a Water Bottle With You
An easy way to ensure you drink more water is to always have water with you. Mind-blowing, I know. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be a water bottle you carry with you. You could use a sippy cup, a CamelBak hydration pack or the holy grail – just keep something with you that holds water and drink from it. Easy enough?
3. Drink More Water Before, During and After Workouts
You already saw the recommendations from Precision Nutrition above about hydrating before your workouts and after workouts and while you don’t have to follow this advice to a tee the general idea is to drink more water to prepare you for your workouts and help you recover afterwards. Remember, while hydrating all day is important, it’s especially important around the time you are going to kick some serious ass in the gym (unless of course you don’t care about efficient muscle contractions leading to stellar workouts…the choice is yours).
How to Start Improving Your Hydration Today
By now you understand the importance of proper hydration and realize that you’ve been missing out. The great thing is, even if your hydration sucks, you can start improving it today. Firstly, buy your drinking device (i.e. water bottle) that you’ll take with you wherever you go. Secondly, start tracking your water intake.
I’m not sure who first said it, but there’s a quote out there that says “What gets measured, gets managed” – this couldn’t be more true. Keeping track of your hydration level, at least for a couple of weeks, will give you an accurate picture of where you’re at and help you improve. You don’t have to track your intake forever, but doing so at the start will surely help.
Yes, you’ll also be checking your pee to see if you’re dehydrated, but tracking your actual intake is still important.
Proper hydration isn’t the key to solving all your problems, however it is an easy way to feel better and get better results from your training. Not to mention that while your pre-workout, your protein powder and any other supplements you use are costing you dolla dolla bills – water is FREE.
Takeaway message? Drink more water. Do it, do it now.
I’m out, the venti water is catching up to me and I have to pee again – a small sacrifice I make to hydrate like a boss.