Hydrate to Feel Great
Getting enough sleep and staying hydrated are crucial for your health, and sleep and hydration become even more important when you exercise. In fact, they are the key to getting stronger. Yes, that’s right, coming to the gym 7 days a week without resting will not make you stronger. It will make you depleted and tired. When you lift weights, your body is tearing muscles. What you do after you exercise (eat a nourishing meal, drink plenty of water and sleep) will help your body regain strength and recover.
We can probably all agree that we would sleep more if we could, but those pesky things like kids, jobs, and pets can make it difficult to get the recommended 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. We can have more control over staying hydrated every day and that has a huge impact on your health. In fact, hydration is one of the foundations to staying healthy, but can often be forgotten about. Regularly drinking water supports healthy digestion and kidney function, improves brain function, helps prevent headaches and increases energy.
How can I stay hydrated?
It is important to keep yourself properly hydrated even before signs of dehydration begin to appear. There are many varying opinions on the amount of water people need. Since everybody is unique, everyone needs a different amount of water per day. The amount of water you need is based on many factors including your gender, height, weight and activity level. The color of your urine can help you determine your hydration level. If your urine is very light yellow (like diluted lemonade) and has little odor, you’re well hydrated. The darker and more aromatic your urine, the more dehydrated you are.
The research is inconclusive, so there are multiple guidelines about hydration. You may have heard that you should:
Drink water when you’re thirsty
Drink 64 ounces of water a day (eight 8 ounce glasses)
Divide your bodyweight in half and drink that amount in ounces
While guidelines are helpful, I encourage you to find something that works well for you. Remembering to carry a reusable water bottle and refill it often is an easy way to stay hydrated. However, drinking water is not the only way to stay hydrated. Here are six hacks to make staying hydrated fun and tasty:
Who doesn’t love ice pops? Blend or juice hydrating foods like watermelon, lemons, blueberries and raspberries. Fill a solo cup and freeze for about an hour. You can even add coconut water for an added boost of electrolytes.
A great alternative to sugary sweetened beverages is infused water. You can infuse your water with your favorite fruits and vegetables like strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers and even herbs like mint. This will make your water tastier and add nutrients and electrolytes. Slice your fruit, vegetable or herbs of choice, add it to a jug of water, let it sit overnight, and it’s ready to go!
Brew yourself a cup tea. Good options include chamomile, peppermint or green tea. If hot tea and hot weather don’t sound good together, cool them in the fridge for a refreshing iced tea. There is no limit to the varieties you can drink, but keep in mind that some highly caffeinated teas are actually dehydrating. Mix them up so that you’re never bored with the taste!
Make a smoothie with high water content fruits and vegetables including strawberries, oranges, peaches, pineapples, plums, raspberries, spinach, zucchini and watermelon. To increase your water consumption even more, try adding just water or coconut water instead of milk. Coconut contains electrolytes that work to restore our fluid balance.
Satisfy your thirst by snacking on water-packed fruits and vegetables throughout the day. For breakfast, try fruit and oatmeal. When you make a bowl of oatmeal, the oats soak up the water or milk that you use to cook it, creating a hydrating breakfast option. For lunch or dinner, try adding a side salad made with spinach, cucumbers and tomatoes, which are all at least 90 percent water.
Let’s face it, drinking water might not be the most important thing on your mind during the day. In fact, it’s probably the last. If you can’t remember to drink water, then find a way to remind yourself. Set a reminder on your phone, use an app or put sticky notes in locations that you spend a lot of time. Do something in your environment to help remind you to stay hydrated throughout the day.
What can happen if you are dehydrated?
Dehydration occurs when your body does not have enough water to maintain its usual functions. This happens when your water intake is not enough to replace your water loss. Excessive sweating, intense breathing due to vigorous activities, and hot weather can cause dehydration. Other common causes include vomiting, diarrhea, and fevers.
When dehydrated, the fluid loss causes a drop in blood volume, which makes your heart need to work harder to push oxygen and nutrients through the bloodstream to the brain and muscles.
This physiological response is why being dehydrated can have a significant negative impact on your physical and mental performance. Even mild dehydration can reduce concentration and energy, and increase perception of exertion, greater fatigue and negative mood changes. So, if you find yourself constantly tired and unfocused – despite adequate sleep, have a look at your water intake.