How much water do you drink everyday? Have you ever really given it much thought?
We’ve all heard the general recommendation before to drink eight 8oz glasses each day, but have you ever really tracked that amount?
What about water-rich fruits and vegetables...does that count towards daily intake? Is the same amount of water need when working out in cold weather as opposed to warm weather? Does hydration actually affect performance?
No doubt you’ve asked these questions before, and likely received all sorts of conflicting answers. We’re here to help give you the basics on hydration and how proper hydration spurs powerful performance.
Read on to find out just how important hydration is to supporting your training performance.
First things first -- how much water do you actually need each day?
The answer isn’t eight 8oz glasses of water. The real answer is that it depends on a multitude of variables including: age, gender, activity level, environment, and any past / pre-existing health issues.
The human body is roughly 60% water. So, you can see that water is essential right off the bat. Sure you can survive for a couple of days without water, but that’s about it.
Metabolic processes stop working, core temperature rises, neurological function suffers, muscles don’t perform optimally, and the consequences of dehydration only get worse from there.
Now let’s see the various ways we lose / gain water daily:
- Evaporation from the skin and lungs (e.g., perspiration and respiration)
- Food (fruits, vegetables, meats, etc.)
- Beverages (water, coffee, tea, etc.)
- Metabolic processes (oxidation of protein, carbohydrates, and fat)
Roles of Water in the Body
As you probably have guessed by now, water is extremely important for overall health and well-being. Here’s a list of various bodily processes requiring water:
- Required for production of neurotransmitters
- Regulates core temperature
- Lubricates joints
- Supports oxygen delivery all over the body
- Shock absorber for brain and spinal cord
The list goes on, but these are just a few of the numerous bodily functions that necessitate adequate hydration.
Now, let’s key in on the primary purpose of this article...how hydration powers performance!
Hydration and Performance
Seeing how vital is to normal everyday functions not even associated with physical activity, you can safely venture a guess that it’s just as critical to optimal performance as the other roles we discussed above.
In fact, water is so essential to training that even as little as a 2% dip in hydration levels can severely impact performance. That’s not the only thing that suffers -- dehydration also adversely impacts strength, power, and training intensity.[3,4] Even greater losses of body weight from water (~ 5%) can actually decrease work capacity by as much as 30%!
A few of the reasons dehydration affects performance include:
- Reduced plasma blood volume (resulting in reduced stroke volume, increased heart rate)
- Decreased blood flow to skin (lowering sweating response and heat dissipation)
- Increased core (body) temperature.[5,6]
That’s not all though -- dehydration also impacts your cognitive function inhibiting coordination, response time, focus, short term memory, and attention. Fatigue also sets in faster and the CNS is more sensitive to painful stimuli.
As you can see, no good can from dehydration of any sorts -- performance or overall health-wise.
Ensure Proper Hydration
So, how much should an active person consume to stay adequately hydrated? There’s no easy, one size fits all answer for every single person, but….here’s some general recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine’s Fluid Replacement Guidelines:
Before Exercise = 14-22oz of water 2 hours prior to exercise
During Exercise = 6-12oz every 15 - 20 mins of exercise
After Exercise = 16-24oz of water / sports drink for every pound of weight lost during exercise
Lastly, do water intake recommendations vary due to what climate you’re exercising in?
Well, as you’re aware, exercising in the heat certainly increases sweat production, and evaporation of that sweat is what helps the body stay cool in hot environments.
So, to maintain ideal hydration levels necessitates greater fluid consumption than normal as well as adding in some electrolytes (sodium, potassium) to replace those lost through sweat.
Cold environments are the same. Even though we may not visibly sweat as much as when in the heat, the body still uses water. In fact, sweating still occurs, especially if you’re wearing insulated clothing. Exercising in the cold can increase urine output and pull water from your limbs towards the core in an effort to maintain temperature. There is also an increased loss of water due to increased respiratory loss of fluids.
Bottom line, drink up even if you’re not that thirsty when exercising in the cold!
Water is essential to all aspects of life. Staying properly hydrated will not only keep you on top of your game, but also keep your health on point too. Use these tips to ensure you’re always properly hydrated, and be on the way to peak performance.