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Hydration: It’s more than just water.

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Hydration: It’s more than just water.

Learning to #DrinkLikeABoss

No matter what type of nutrition plan you are following or workout regimen or lack thereof, one thing that every single plan has in common is that hydration is critical.

Our bodies are about 60% water.  And having enough water in our body influences nearly every system we need for our normal day-to-day functioning.

Dehydration occurs when we aren’t replacing the fluids in our body at a rate equal to or more quickly than it is leaving.

Not getting enough water can make you feel pretty terrible. You may feel fatigued, sluggish, or irritable.  A common indication that we haven’t been getting enough water is a headache.  Not having enough daytime liquids can also lead to other physiological issues such as leg cramps.  But did you realize that not paying attention to your water intake during the day can also affect your sleep quality at night?  

Dehydration can act as a powerful roadblock to your body’s production of melatonin, making it hard to both fall asleep and stay asleep.

How much water do we need?

Health authorities commonly suggest the 8X8 rule, this is 8 ounces 8 times a day.  8 ounces is the equivalent of 1 cup.  Some will also say ½ your body weight in ounces.  So if you weighed 160 lbs you are looking at around 80 ounces, which would be 10 cups.  The bigger you are the more you need.

But age, sex, weight… how much physical activity you get,  are you pregnant? breastfeeding?… It all affects how much you truly need.  

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that men drink at least 101 ounces of water per day, which is a little under 13 cups. They say women should drink at least 74 ounces, which is a little over 9 cups.

And let’s not forget the kids.

Kids 4-8 need about ½ as much of an adult.  So around 5 cups or 40 ounces.

As they get bigger the need for water increases.  9-13 will be about 7-8 cups or 56-64 ounces

And our Teenagers start to become the size of adults, their water intake starts to match as well.  8-11 cups or 64-88 ounces.

How can you tell if you are hydrated?  

Listening to your body is important.  It will tell you if you pay attention.

Take a look at the color and consistency of your pee.

If you’re well-hydrated your urine should be a clear, pale yellow color and nearly odorless. On the other hand, cloudy, dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration. A honey-yellow color may indicate mild dehydration, while a deep, amber-yellow color with a strong odor can signal severe dehydration

Remember these don’t have to mean dehydration, but they are a key symptom.  Some foods that we eat can also affect the smell of urine.  Bacteria from a urinary tract infection can affect urine color and smell as well.

It is possible to still be dehydrated after drinking a lot of water.  The biggest signs that you’re dehydrated include the inability to sweat, dry skin, bad breath, dark pee, and urination less than six times a day.

Keep your eye on these things and if you have increased your water intake and are seeing no difference, you should consult with your physician.

What counts as water?

Don’t think that drinking water is the only way to hydrate yourself.

Teas and Coffees were once thought to be dehydrating and therefore didn’t count as water, but that myth has been debunked.  You don’t want them to be the majority of your hydration but they can count.  This also includes sodas, even diet ones, and sports drinks.  There are nutritional reasons to limit these but they pass the easy hydration needs test.

Fruits can be an amazing source of hydration too.  Fruits like watermelon are almost completely comprised of water.  Oranges, grapefruits, and melons all have high water content and help towards your goal.

Vegetables can also be considered a water source.   Consider those with higher water bases like celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, and romaine lettuce.

There are other foods that are comprised of a large amount of water too.  Oatmeal, yogurt, soups, smoothies, even downing milk.  These all help contribute to your daily hydration need.

You may also find products like one of my favorites, Hydrate, which delivers a blend of vital electrolytes, antioxidants, MCTs, vitamins, and minerals to protect the body from the harmful effects of dehydration.

Don’t be misled – not every liquid is hydrating.  Unfortunately, alcohol has the exact opposite effect.  If you find that you are consuming alcoholic beverages on the norm then make sure you are at a minimum adding a 1 for 1 glass of water or some other form of hydration to counteract each drink.

Start small if you need to.

Does jumping straight to 64 – 90 ounces still feel too difficult for you?  Start small, just start somewhere.

We are usually the most dehydrated first thing in the morning.  We have just slept somewhere between 7 and 12 hours depending on age and sleep hygiene.

Starting the day with a glass of water can do amazing things for your productivity and the way you feel.  It may feel hard to jump right into this habit, but what are some small things you can do to make this easier?

Step 1 – Make the water available.  Set it next to your bed the night before in a glass or stainless steel bottle.  This will prevent any toxins from plastics from seeping into it.

Step 2 – Start with a few sips/gulps before you even get out of the bed.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Some water is better than none.

Step 3 – Keep it close by through the day.  If you need to have multiple glasses/bottles in different spots that is fine. Out of sight is out of mind.

Step 4 – Reminders.  There are apps that will remind you through the day or you can set an alarm on your phone that simply says “Drink Water”.

Step 5 – Track it.  Once you have started making it top of mind and a top priority and you are starting to drink more, are you noticing other sources that you can count towards your hydration goal?

Step 6 – Celebrate.  Anytime you remember to drink some water throughout the day give yourself an actual woo hoo!  Throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care.  I know, I know… seems silly, but if you can act like your team just scored the winning run or touch down or basket or whatever there is a physiological response that rewards your brain for drinking the water.  This tells your brain that this is good and you should do it more often, and then the habit loop is established.  The more you do it the more likely you are to make this a long-lasting change for the betterment of your health and productivity.

You’ve got this!  Raise a glass and drink your water like a boss!

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