As the composition of the human body is two thirds water, maintaining a well hydrated body is essential to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. However, as a community we are often spoiled for choice when it comes to what and when we drink, and perhaps it is not abundantly clear how the many different drinks we consume on a daily basis affect our hydration levels, and the crucial role of water alone in sustaining good hydration across the day.
There is almost an infinite number of beverages available to us each and every day, however, water, though plain and uninspiring, is the most obvious choice for maintaining a hydrated body. It does an efficient job, and it is readily accessible at home and easily transportable. However, how much water should we drink each day?
Well, that is the million-dollar question.
The internet is a source of many answers to ‘what is the right ‘volume’ of what to drink each day’, and the challenge is always identifying the best source of information to rely upon.
My partner and I target 1.5 litres each day of plain water as a ‘core volume’ that we strive to meet. This volume is adjustable based upon the exercise we do, the type of activities that we complete over the day at work and the other food and beverages that we consume over the day, such as tea, coffee and alcohol. For every cup of coffee, tea or alcohol we drink, we look to add a matching amount of water on-top of our daily ‘core volume’ target.
This is our routine, and you may ask ‘why do you feel the need to drink additional water on-top of other drinks, or exercise? Well, that is a good question and an important one.
It is because many of our daily beverages (e.g. coffee, tea and alcohol) are not exactly contributory to the optimal daily hydration target, but in fact, regressive in value to your body.
They have a negative impact on hydration, especially alcohol.
Alcohol is a diuretic. It makes the body lose fluids faster by making you go to the toilet more regularly, and ironically, because we find ourselves using the toilet more often when we consume alcohol, we tend to ignore drinking water, as we tell ourselves that the consumption of any liquids will add to our toilet stops. That is why when we drink alcohol, especially in large quantities, we must make sure we make the effort to drink water as well, as it will keep us hydrated (and more importantly, reduce the risk of a hangover the next day!).
Coffee, tea and sodas can make a positive contribution to our daily fluid intake, however, the science on this is dependent upon regular wate consumption and only one unit of each of these beverages. Both coffee and tea contain caffeine, and regular consumption throughout the day can have a dehydrating effect on the body, and add to core symptoms of dehydration, such as headaches and dry mouth. They cannot be considered replacements to regular water across the day but must be supplemented by water consumption to contribute to a hydrated body.
Keeping hydrated is not simply about cutting out all beverages that may not be great for the body, but to ensure we drink enough water to replace the fluids we lose, or may lose across the day, to maintain a healthy balance. At the end of the day, good hydration is as simple as getting the right amount of water across each and every day, especially before, during and after your regular exercise regime.
Now, I mentioned that we look to consume more water when we exercise or have a laborious day at the office, and the reason for this is quite simple and relies upon the primary role of water in our body.
The primary role of water is the regulation of body temperature and the lubrication of our joints. Additionally, it assists in the transfer of nutrients throughout the body that give you the energy you need and the maintenance of a healthy body. When you exercise, your body excretes water through sweat, which reduces the amount of water within your body, and thus, will impact the efficacy of water in regulating body temperature, lubricating joints etc. If you fail t to replace the water in your body as you excrete it during your exercise routine, and crucially, build your hydration pre and post work out, your body will not have the necessary volume of water to do its job in ensuring you are at your physical peak.
Miguel cannot stress enough the importance of water in our daily lives and training sessions –
“It is quite simple, if you are not hydrated then your body cannot perform at its peak in training and in everyday life. This is why I always encourage everyone to continually drink water throughout our training sessions, specifically between our regular exercise sets, and continue to hydrate post session. I cannot state how important water is to the energy levels we feel in our body each day, and to our performance, and it must be considered as important as healthy eating and regular training in any balanced, sustainable and healthy lifestyle”.
This is even more important when we work out on a hot day, as our body needs to recover more water in response to increased demand placed upon the body, and why we often see people suffering more from dehydration when the sun is out.
I will finish this post with a few Frequently Asked Questions about hydration, and I hope this helps us all with how we approach our water consumption each and every day, especially when it comes to our regular training regime. I will personally admit that during this period of lock-down, I have struggled a little bit to keep my regular water consumption to the levels I would like, and I put this down to the change of routine that I have been forced to make over this period. My alcohol levels are up as well, which increases the challenge, but like regular exercise and healthy eating, it is just something we all need to keep chipping away at to reach our peak.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the effect of poor hydration upon the body?
Poor hydration can have a significant impact on your body, from headaches, loss of energy and tiredness, to long-term health problems to your kidney’s and weight. There is plenty of information on the short and long-term impacts of dehydration on the body provided online by the NHS.
How can I tell if I need more water?
As awkward as it may sound, your body itself will readily tell you when you need to drink more water.
The key sign is your urine! Just take a quick look each and every time you go to the bathroom at its colour, and whenever you can make out a clear yellow colour, that is your body telling you that it is in need of water urgently!
Let’s be honest, water is pretty dull – So, what other options do I have?
We recommend Coconut water or ‘fancy water’, which is simply water mixed in with lemon, or lime or herbs such as mint or thyme that give the water a nice cocktail taste without undermining its hydrating value to the body.
While fruit juice can taste delicious, it can have a high sugar content, so be aware not to consume too much! Another trick I like to do is to place pieces of a pealed satsuma into water as well to soak!
Miguel & The Team,
Peak Physique Studios