Everyone knows that water is important for health and performance. Adequate fluid intake controls body temperature, aids digestion and cushions organs and joints. Don’t drink enough water and your athletic performance could be negatively impaired. Dehydration reduces endurance, strength and power; impairing skill and decision-making, and increasing injury risk.
You’ve probably heard that you should drink 8 cups of water a day, but truth be told, daily fluid needs are extremely individualized. The amount of fluid required daily depends on numerous factors such as your environment, body size and training status. These fluid needs are met not only through water, but also through the other beverages we consume and the food that we eat. Contrary to popular belief, caffeine does not have a dehydrating effect, so even your morning cup of coffee counts as a fluid (phew).
The simplest way to determine your hydration level is by looking at your urine colour. A pale yellow colour (lemonade) is a sign of good hydration status, while dark yellow urine (apple juice) is a red flag that you’re dehydrated. If your urine is clear then you’re probably over hydrating.
Another way to track hydration levels is by monitoring your body weight first thing in the morning after urinating. For those in energy balance, morning body weights should fluctuate less than 1% from day to day. However, various factors can influence your morning body weight. Women will probably find an increase in body weight prior to the start of menstruation.
If you’re exercising, you’ll want to start exercise in a hydrated state so that dehydration does not negatively impair your athletic performance. Aim to drink 1-2 cups of fluids less than 4 hours before exercise. If you have not urinated by 2 hours before you plan to exercise or your urine is dark yellow then drink another 0.5- 1 cup of fluids.
Now you may be wondering what and how much you should be drinking during exercise. Stay tuned for next week’s newsletter that will answer this question. To receive it straight to your mailbox, sign-up here.