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Hydration Basics for Health and Performance

August will have some hot days ahead, and making sure that we understand the basics of hydration will go a long way to improving our fitness and overall health. 

From a physical standpoint, our body requires water to function properly; without it, we would struggle to . . .

  • Deliver oxygen throughout the body
  • Maintain healthy skin
  • Regulate body temperature
  • Flush body waste
  • Prevent kidney damage
  • Perform strenuous physical tasks and more

Dehydration not only affects us physically but cognitively as well. For example, studies have shown that even a 1-2% drop in body water can negatively affect coordination, problem-solving, and attention to detail in the hours after a workout. 

We’ll discuss maintaining proper hydration levels and strategies to help clients perform better in and out of the gym.

How Much Water Do We Need

First, we want to find out how much water we drink daily. While many fitness challenges and influencers say you need to get a gallon of water each day, there is no universally agreed-on amount that one must consume. 

Rather than prescribing an amount, we first need to understand the signs of dehydration (other than urine color), so we can recognize when our body needs more H20 to perform at its best. 

Signs of dehydration: 

  • Dry mouth 
  • Headache
  •  Muscle cramps
  • Lack of energy
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Cool, dry skin 

Warning signs like dry mouth and or urine color might be more evident, while muscle cramps, lack of energy, and a headache may be more acute or challenging to see hydration as the cause. 

Water Lost From Sweating

How much water do we lose from sweating? Of course, the answer can vary widely due to metabolic rate, temperature, workout duration, etc. Still, it’s an important question to ask to help understand how much water we may be losing during a workout. 

If you want to keep things simple, the average sweats approximately 0.8 – 1.4 liters per hour during exercise. 

If you want to get a bit more precise, you can walkthrough this formula to help determine sweat rate: 

Pre-exercise weight – post-exercise weight = sweat loss

 Multiply sweat loss by 16 to convert your loss to ounces

 Add in any ounces you drank during exercise Divide sweat rate by 60 to get your sweat rate per hour

 If your workout was less than one hour, multiply by the duration 

Here is an example for a 180lb athlete in a 60- minute class who drinks 10 ounces of water: 

180lbs – 3lbs = 177lbs 3lbs x 16oz = 48oz 48oz + 10oz = 58oz 58/60 = .96 oz/min 

This athlete’s sweat rate comes out to .96oz per minute or 3.6lbs per hour (2% of their body weight). 

Sweat Is More Than Water

We don’t just lose water when we sweat – we also lose electrolytes. Electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, etc.) are essential to physical activity because they regulate fluid balance in our bodies. 

Here is a quick guide that may help determine what your body may need in certain situations: 

  • Sodium: muscle cramps, loss of appetite, dizziness
  • Chloride: changes in PH, irregular heartbeat
  • Potassium: muscle weakness, mental confusion
  • Magnesium: muscle cramps, nausea Calcium: muscle spasms 

Understanding which electrolyte your body can be deficient in pre or post-workout can be tricky. Luckily some products provide a broad spectrum of electrolytes to help keep us regulated. 

Along with drinking water for rehydration, supplementing with electrolytes should be encouraged. 

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