There is an ongoing debate about how much water we should drink. On the one hand, some people believe that they need to practically drown themselves to remain adequately hydrated and on the other extreme, many believe that soda is equivalent to water. As with anything, moderation appears to be the key. However, ideal water consumption can be a bit complicated when considering electrolyte balance, activity level, and individual needs. So let’s delve into the topic of proper water consumption to clear the misconceptions.
In regular non-active individuals, fluid loss is equal to about 2 to 3 L a day. As a general rule, we recommend consuming 1 L of water for every 50 pounds of body weight, but avoid going over 3 L of water a day. Ideally, you should be urinating every 2-4 hours. To meet these minimum requirements, consider consuming water instead of unhealthy beverages like soda, coffee, and alcohol.
Athletes who train roughly 2 hours a day or even someone doing yard work for two hours on a hot summer day can lose about 5 L of fluid a day. That’s a lot of water lost in sweat. Active individuals should drink sufficient amounts of water before working out, during a workout, and after working out to replenish the fluid lost. Exactly how much water to consume in these situations will be discussed later. Also, replacing necessary electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium is required to remain hydrated.
People who don’t drink enough water along with electrolytes, especially individuals who take part in high-intensity exercise, may experience dehydration. Anyone who feels the symptoms of dehydration setting in while exercising can almost be certain they didn’t consume enough water beforehand. When suffering from dehydration, the internal core body temperature increases, the cardiovascular system undergoes unnecessary strain, blood pressure increases, and the cardiac output decreases.
4% Dehydration Can Result in 20-30% Decrease In Performance!
Muscle Cramps or Weakness
A Reduction in Athletic Performance
Trouble Focusing on the Task at Hand
Fatigue or Experiences Dizziness
Reduced Urine Output or Dark Urine
If you suffer these symptoms, you could be suffering from dehydration.
Note: Symptoms of dehydration aren’t warning signs, they are indicative of a current state of dehydration. Take Action and Drink Filtered Water.
Since fluid intake during exercise only replaces about 50% of sweat loss, adequate hydration beforehand is essential. However, many people avoid consuming sufficient water before exercising because they are worried about suffering from a side cramp during physical activity. However, a side cramp is the result of drinking too much water immediately before exercising. To avoid this problem, consume 16 to 24 ounces of filtered water two hours before exercising.
Note: Consuming sufficient electrolytes along with water at this point has the potential to increase overall athletic output and stave off dehydration as long as possible.
Then, 15 minutes before exercising, consume between 3 to 6 ounces of filtered water and begin exercising in a state of maximal hydration. Realize, however, that drinking water throughout exercise is a major component of remaining hydrated. Ideally, consume between 4 and 6 ounces of filtered water every 15 to 20 minutes while exercising.
The best way to determine how much water to consume after exercising is to step on the scale before exercising and after to determine how much weight was a lost. Then, drink 16 ounces of filtered water for every pound lost to rehydrate quickly without overdoing it. While it may not seem to be extremely important to rehydrate quickly after exercise, adequate water levels allow the body to repair itself and bring nutrients to the cells, while removing waste byproducts. Proper water consumption reduces soreness and reduces the amount of time needed to recuperate between exercise sessions.
There is so much negative press regarding salt that many people do their best to avoid it altogether. However, anyone eating a healthy diet already shouldn’t be worried about consuming additional salt. Muscle cramps and fatigue can set in quickly, as electrolyte levels diminish. For hot days, intense or long duration workouts consuming 1/4 teaspoon iodized sea salt to stimulate water and carbohydrate uptake and retention is generally OK if there are no complicating health factors.
Carbohydrates are essential and the primary energy fuel used by your body during exercise. A combination of sucrose, glucose, and fructose is an ideal addition to your hydration regimen as this is shown to be the most effective and can help burn 55% more carbohydrates than a glucose solution alone. Look for something that contains about 36 grams of carbohydrate in 20-40 oz of fluid. Fruit juice (less than 60 g fructose as that will interfere with performance and result in diarrhea), honey, evaporated cane juice are excellent options. Avoid artificial sweeteners and drinking all your fluid as juice (too much fructose will inhibit performance).
Average exercisers who want a little more than water can use electrolyte packets or honey sticks with their water. If you get a little tired of water, Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte powder or Emergen-C Adult Multivitamin Powder are decent alternatives. For the very active athletes: LIV Organic Sports Drink is a Good Option.
To answer this question correctly, it is important to get tested for mineral deficiencies and address mineral deficiency on an individual basis. If your healthcare practitioner determines you have low levels of essential minerals, you can supplement with the minerals you are deficient in. In many cases, people are collectively deficient in the minerals magnesium, selenium, and zinc. To remedy this problem, a diet high in these minerals or a high-quality mineral supplement should be considered.
While sports drinks have electrolytes in them, they also have plenty of sugar, chemicals, and are an expensive option to avoid dehydration. In most cases, people who exercise for less than 1 hour a day shouldn’t have to resort to sports drinks for adequate hydration. However, anyone exercising more than that, especially if they undergo profuse sweating, should consume water along with electrolytes.
You can easily create a customized sports drink to take in the necessary water and electrolytes when you are training:
1/4 Cup Evaporated Cane Juice
1/4 Teaspoon of Iodized Sea Salt
1/4 Cup Organic Orange Juice (or other organic juice)
Add Enough Filtered Water to Make 1 Quart
Consuming adequate water along with simple sugars like glucose, otherwise known as dextrose, in a 4% to 8% solution allows the body to quickly recover from workouts. Another option is to mix a little bit of honey in water to recover from strenuous exercise and replace the glycogen that is lost during exercise.
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Meet Shannon Ford, a functional medicine expert passionate about helping people achieve optimal health and wellness. With over ten years of experience in the field, Shannon has dedicated her career to understanding the underlying causes of chronic diseases and finding personalized solutions for her patients. Her approach focuses on treating the whole person rather than just the symptoms, using a combination of nutrition, lifestyle changes, and cutting-edge medical technologies. Through her work, Shannon has helped countless individuals regain their health and vitality, and she is committed to continuing her mission to empower people to live their best lives.