Hydration is key – I tell my dog every time I fill his water bowl. I’m not sure if he’s listening to me but he quickly slurps up the water and reminds me that it is time for me to get a glass of water too. The general rule of thumb that many of us grew up with is to drink 2L or 8 glasses of water per day. On a population level, this is a simple way to explain to everyone what their target water intake should be each day. However, like with everything else, their are some exceptions.
Athletes require more water than the general public. If you are training while dehydrated you are likely to be causing cardiovascular strain and contributing to muscle fatigue. There should be a direct correlation between the amount an athlete sweats and the amount water they drink. In other words, the more you sweat, the more you’ll need to drink. The British Nutrition Foundation suggest that professional and amateur sportspeople consume 500ml of fluid 2 hours before exercising plus a further 125-250ml immediately before exercising. This should be coupled with drinking little and often during exercise, e.g. 125-250ml every 10-20 mins.
To work out the exact amount of water you require, complete the following equation*:
Weight (kg) X 35ml = Ideal water consumption (ml)
*This should be reduced to 30ml for elderly people. 1-2 litres should be added on for people who are involved in a strenuous exercise regime. Additional water may also be required in warmer climates and during illness which involves vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
If you find it difficult to consume 6-8 glasses, think about foods that have a high water content such as:
Fun fact: 60-70% of our body weight is water.
That may help to explain why our weight fluctuates from day-to-day and even hour-to-hour. At the beginning of the day, we typically weight less than we do at the end of the day because we haven’t eaten anything and because in the morning your body is often slightly dehydrated. Don’t worry when you see the numbers on the scales changing – you are more than just that number. To help manage your weight recording, aim to weigh yourself on the same day each week and at the same time every time, e.g. first time on a Saturday morning or 6pm on a Tuesday evening.
There is a belief that tea and coffee can’t count towards your total fluid intake. Yes, caffeine (found in tea and coffee) acts as a diuretic. However, you must remember that every cup/mug of tea or coffee contains anywhere from 150-500ml water, depending on what size of a vessel you choose to drink from. Therefore, as these drinks are over 85% water, they are deemed to count towards total daily fluid intake, according to the British Dietetic Association.
If you are taking part in Sober October your body may be experiencing a range of positive changes in the immune system, sleep and weight loss. Alcohol is a criminal dehydrator and a known diuretic. Alcohol causes you to have more bathroom trips and it lowers the body’s production of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) which causes more dehydration, ultimately leading to a hangover. The advice is simple. If you choose to drink alcohol, commit to drinking a glass of water before bed and straight away when you wake up the next day. In recent years, Dioralyte has become my friend after a night out. Oh to be as resilient as I was in college – not a hangover kind back then.
This week, challenge yourself to improve your hydration status. Firstly, take note of how much you drink on an average day. Then for the following five days, try to increase you daily intake by 20%. So if you drink 1L of water per day normally, aim to then drink 1.2L per day for five days. You’ll amaze yourself. No bother to you. Do me proud.