The benefits of water and how much you should be consuming
By Matthew Taffe, CSCS
The human body is very dependent on water as it makes up 60% of the average person’s body weight. Athletes are even more dependent on water for numerous reasons. Our muscles are roughly 75% water, and for athletes, muscle efficiency is a high priority. If the body becomes dehydrated, the muscles won’t be able to contract at their peak and that leads to a decrease in performance of strength and speed.
Water also regulates the body temperature and helps to keep the body cool in hot environments decreasing the risk for heat stroke. Other benefits include improved calorie control and also decreased risks of muscle cramps.
Determining Hydration Level
A Simple way to determine hydration levels is to monitor your urine. Urine that is clear or light yellow color (similar to a light lemonade color) is a good indicator of being well hydrated. When the urine becomes darker and stronger smelling, there is an indicator of the body being dehydrated.
When it comes to working out or sport, it’s important to start well hydrated. Starting well hydrated will reduce the risk of heat injury; improve performance, and also helps in recovery. It is generally recommended to consume 0.08-0.12 ounces of fluid per pound of body weight 4 hours before exercise. If you work out in the morning and don’t have 4 hours available before exercise, consume 0.05-0.08 ounces of fluid per pound of body weight within 2 hours of activity.
During activity the body will sweat and needs to be replenished. If there isn’t water to replace that sweat loss, the body will begin to dehydrate and increase body temperature, setting up chance for a possible heat injury and also leading to decrease in performance.
After activity it is important to make sure that the body is well hydrated again. One rule of thumb is to drink 16-20 ounces of water for every pound lost during activity. Continue to drink water throughout your day to stay well hydrated.
As the summer and fall approach, the temperatures will increase and sweat loss will become higher. It is important to be more cautious in how much water you are consuming each day.