H20....a simple molecule compound, yet complex in the fact that 55-65% of the human body is made up of it. It is the true building block of life...yet, we seem to completely forget it's importance in our daily diet. Recent data has revealed that around 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, only drinking around 8 servings of water daily. How can this be? With crazy intakes of caffeine, sugary drinks, salty food, and of course, alcohol, it's just not enough.
Dehydration by definition is "the process of losing or removing water or moisture. A condition caused by the excessive loss of water from the body, which causes a rise in blood sodium levels. Since dehydration is most often caused by excessive sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea, water loss is usually accompanied by a deficiency of electrolytes."
Now, many do not experience many of these extreme conditions day to day, but we still experience the symptoms of dehydration. For example, by being over-caffeinated our blood sodium levels rise, forcing our kidneys to produce more urine, therefore increasing our blood viscosity and increasing sodium levels by volume. Do you ever notice that you're fatigued, even if you've had your caffeine? You're probably deficient of electrolytes. That feeling we all get around 2:00pm, that exhausted, drained feeling, is usually caused by this moderate dehydration. Now, dehyrdation causes other symptoms aside from this drowsiness--foggy memory, irritability, and, worst case, kidney stones. What's the solution? Hydrate. Drink more water.
The typical person will try to remedy this "exhaustion" by drinking more and more caffeine, which can result in a poor night's sleep, and when we wake up the next morning (feeling exhausted), we over-caffeinate. The cycle repeats itself over and over again, day by day.
I get it. I love a good cup of coffee every now and then--sometimes, it's just what I need. But this chronic feeling of exhaustion will not be cured by caffeine. Chances are, you're dehydrated. Start keeping track of how much caffeine you're taking in each day...for every cup of coffee you consume, try to drink double that in ounces of water. I think you'll be amazed at the results.
Here are my top 5 reasons to start drinking (water) like a fish:
Water can boost Metabolism: Metabolism matters. Many of us equate this term to 6-pack abs and people who can eat whatever food in whatever quantities that they'd like--but it actually relates to how efficient your body is. If you want to perform and feel better each day, drink more water. Studies show that it can increase metabolic rates by up to 30%.
Water is always the healthiest (and cheapest) option. It's simple; water is calorie free, your body is already composed of it, and most of us don't get enough. Put down that sugary crap, and opt for what your body needs and craves! Not to mention...ITS FREE( most of the time)!
Water will make you feel better, fight headaches, and improve life: Those folks who are properly hydrated have a higher tolerance for pain, they have fewer incidents of severe migraines, and they don't report feeling tired as often around 2:00pm.
Water will help you lift more weight, run longer distances, and perform better overall: Ever try to lift or run when you're hungover? It sucks. One of the main reasons it sucks so much is because you're dehydrated and your cellular function is slowed way down. Basically, you're body just isn't in the mood. But by staying hydrated, your cellular function is optimized, reducing cramping, and reducing fatigue.
Water helps you lose weight: It's true. In addition to boosting metabolism, water is also a great appetite suppressant. Did you ever feel hungry but just recently ate? That's your body telling you that you're thirsty! Water will also keep that "full" feeling longer and will reduce cravings for vending machine snacks down.
Bonus Benefit- Going out tonight?? Mix your favorite spirit with just water! I suggest a bourbon and soda water or a vodka water with a lime, low calorie and can still "let your hair down". Doing this will help keep your head while sipping away your ambitions!
So, Ryan, how much water should I drink?
The "8 glasses of water a day" mantra is a total myth. Although it is not a bad bottom line, 8 glasses (roughly 64-96oz depending on glass size) just isn't enough. If you are healthy and active, shoot for about 1 oz. of water per pound of bodyweight. For example, if you are 140lb female, shoot for 140 oz of water each day. Same rule if you are a 250lb man; 10 oz. per pound of bodyweight. This is just a rough number to shoot for, but it's a good rule of thumb.
Here's a pro tip: Mix in some electrolytes. Sometimes water is just not enough, and for those with an active lifestyle, some electrolytes could really do the trick. There are so many mixes/powders on the market that will add a "super-charge" to your water for better hydration. For me, I take one NUUN tablet each morning with an 8-12oz of glass of water to "jump start" my hydration as soon as I wake up. I no longer need that jolt of caffeine in the morning.
So, that's why water is so important. Hydration plays a key role in every fitness goal and will noticeably improve your energy each day. YOU CAN prevent dehydration. Be diligent, and take a couple small steps to stay hydrated. Give your body what it wants and needs!