It goes without saying that good hydration, which is the process of getting enough water into your body, is essential for maintaining optimal athletic performance. What you need to know is how to determine if you are properly hydrated, what the effects of good hydration are, and what’s good to drink and what’s definitely not. So, read on and we’ll start with some of the signs that you might not be properly hydrating.
Disclaimer: Please do not take any of the following as medical advice. Many of the symptoms of dehydration may be symptoms of other problems as well. Remember that if you have any health concerns, consult your family doctor or any general health practitioner.
Signs That You Are Not Properly Hydrated
There are a few things you need to look out for when thinking about your own hydration, especially if you are doing any form of sporting activity. Some of these things are probably quite obvious. For example, if you have a dry mouth, muscle cramps, or you’re not sweating when you should be, then you are probably dehydrated. Other sensations such as lightheadedness or vertigo, a pounding heartbeat, or feelings of nausea or actual vomiting are almost certainly signs that you need to take in more fluids right now.
Are You Hydrated Enough for Working Out?
The simplest test to determine if you are properly hydrated is to check the color and volume of your urine. To begin with, you should be urinating every two to four hours. Your urine should be fairly light, like lemon squash or natural lemonade (the color is not so cut and dried, though). Having said that, the color of your urine may also be affected by the amount of vitamins you are ingesting. If you are taking supplements, your urine may be darker which in this case does not indicate a lack of hydration. It makes more sense if you simply concentrate on the volume here.
Now let’s look at how to make sure you are hydrated for working out. Two hours before you exercise, drink about 1-2 glasses of water. Before you start exercising, have a pee to get rid of any excess liquid, and then have another drink. While you’re exercising, drink small amounts every 15 minutes or so. After exercising, you need to replace the fluids you lost. If you want to be scientific about this, weigh yourself before and after, and drink one and a half times what you lost. If you are not too bothered, just drink a liter or so of water over the following hour.
What Are the Best Liquids for Optimal Physical Performance?
It goes without saying that there are good liquids for hydration and there are bad ones. The most obvious, and by far the cheapest, is good old-fashioned water. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where you have access to potable drinking water, there is little reason not to drink it.
However, I would like to add a little word of warning here. Some tap water is not as drinkable as water companies may claim. Most people have heard of the Flint, Michigan lead debacle. The authorities were telling everyone there was no problem with the water when there patently was.
Lead in water is not the only problem. Arsenic is another issue that is not often talked about and yet is most definitely there. A paragraph in this article on the WHO website says this about arsenic:
“The greatest threat to public health from arsenic originates from contaminated groundwater. Inorganic arsenic is naturally present at high levels in the groundwater of a number of countries, including Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, India, Mexico, and the United States of America. Drinking-water, crops irrigated with contaminated water and food prepared with contaminated water are the sources of exposure.”
In other words, optimal hydration is also about drinking water that is free from potentially harmful impurities, arsenic being a very good example. The element is commonly found in water sources and can be difficult to remove, pentavalent arsenic in particular. Arsenic (III) on the other hand is easier to get rid of. You can read more on this topic by checking out this post on BOS.
Other drinks that are good for the purposes of hydration are sports drinks, mineral water, and flavored water. However, be careful of flavored water, and I’ll mention fruit juices as well here. There can be a lot of sugar in these types of drinks which is not so good for your hydration levels. Stay away from coffee, tea, and alcohol, of course. These drinks are diuretics and will cause you to become more dehydrated, not less.
Why Maintaining Proper Hydration Is So Important
There are many benefits to being properly hydrated when it comes to optimizing your athletic performance. Your energy levels will be where they should be, and your nerves and muscles will function properly. You’ll also think more quickly and clearly, and the chances of cramps will be greatly lessened. Finally, your body will more easily be able to maintain its proper temperature. I think it goes without saying that all of the above are pretty important when it comes to physical exercise. If you’d like to know more, you can read up on why keeping hydrated is important in this excellent article.
Remember that keeping hydrated at all times is crucial, especially when thinking about optimal athletic performance. Therefore, knowing the signs of a dehydrated body is key. Also, remember that the quality of the water you drink is worth thinking about, and that water filters are a good way to go for great quality drinking water.