Water is an essential component of the human body and is critical to successful weight loss and exercising. Yet many people don't understand the importance of staying well-hydrated and what it takes to stay that way.
Water is important because it regulates our temperature, cushions and protects our vital organs, aids digestion, transport nutrients to working muscles and organs, helps dispel waste and can help prevent us from over-eating.
In doing all of these things, water is consumed or expelled from our bodies, which means that it needs to be continually replaced.
When the temperature of our body rises, during exercise for example, we lose higher amounts of water through sweat. In one hour of intense exercise, our body can lose up to a litre or more of water.
When we fail to replace lost water and our body can't cool itself properly, we enter a state of dehydration.
Sometimes we can mistake mild states of dehydration for hunger.
When we don't drink enough fluids, our body gives us signals which resemble hunger pains. When this happens, many of us start eating unnecessary calories because we have misunderstood what our body is trying to tell us.
By staying well-hydrated throughout the day, we minimise the chance of unnecessary eating and maximize our chances of achieving our weight loss goals.
If you've ever felt thirsty, you have experienced dehydration.
In a dehydrated state our body is unable to cool itself properly, which in extreme cases can lead to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke.
Without an adequate supply of water we begin to lack energy and our muscles may begin to cramp.
For regular exercisers, maintaining a constant supply of water to the body is essential. Dehydration leads very quickly to muscle fatigue and can even effect our coordination. Even small amounts of water loss may hinder athletic performance.
To prevent dehydration, exercisers must drink adequate amounts of water before, during and after their workout or event.
Fluid balance and replenishment:
It is very important that we all drink enough water. Thirst is a signal that our body is already on the way to dehydration.
It is important to drink continually throughout the day and not just to avoid thirst.
One easy way to check that you are adequately hydrated is to check the colour of your urine.
If your urine is light to clear you are fine, if your urine is too dark the chances are that you are not drinking enough water and may be becoming dehydrated.
Of course, if you are taking vitamin supplements, this test may not be accurate because supplements tend to darken the colour of your urine for several hours after taking them.
Water is usually the best fluid replenishment for most people, but sports drinks can provide added benefits in extreme conditions.
As well as containing water, some sports drinks contain electrolytes and other trace elements which aid in fluid absorption, which is very important if you are exercising at a high intensity for more than 45 minutes or so.
But remember, water is not the only source of fluid replacement. Healthy foods like fruits, juices, soups and vegetables all contain varying degrees of water that aids in the replenishment of lost fluids.
By world standards, Australian's are very lucky to have access to safe, clean drinking water. This makes staying well hydrated really easy, so what are you waiting for? Drink up!
Everyday Hydration hints:
? As a general rule, drink at least 1 litre (4 glasses) of water for every 30 kilos of body weight each day. If you weigh 60 kilos, for example, drink at least 2 litres of water per day. If it is hot or you are active drink even more.
? Look for light to clear coloured urine to make sure you are adequately hydrated.
? If you are hungry when you shouldn't be, try drinking a couple of glasses of water - you might be misinterpreting thirst for hunger. If you are still hungry 10 to 15 minutes later, try eating a piece of fruit to keep you going until your next meal.
? Eating fruit and vegetables and drinking juice are great ways to hydrate your body.
? Try to keep a bottle of water handy at all times and always keep an emergency bottle of water in your car.
? Drink a glass of water before going to bed and another as soon as you wake up, 8 hours is a long time for your body to go without water.
? Caffeine and alcohol can have a diuretic effect, making you lose even more water, so be sure to compensate for this additional loss.
Exercise Hydration hints:
? Drink one to two glasses of water at least an hour before you start exercising.
? Drink another glass 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercising.
? Drink 125 to 250ml of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes or so during exercise.
? Drink an additional 250ml of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising.
? Drink 500ml of fluid for every half kilo of body weight lost after exercise.
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