The Daily Rebel!

9/12/14 – Water, water every where… drink it!

So, no work out today as I feel like I have been hit buy a truck. That 150kg x 3 nailed me! However I do have a little topic I wanna chat about. Let me tell you something you already know, water is important. No, I tell a lie, water is super important! Now, as a readership of educated individuals, I am sure you all know that water is important and that generally speaking we drink too little of it in the majority of cases, but do you know why? Do you know the ins and outs of hydration? Well, your about to! So lets start at the beginning – how much water should you drink? Well, that’s a damn good question. Drinking half your body weight (lbs) in ounces has long been the basic hydration protocol for athletes. So if we have a 150lb athlete, then he/she should drink 75 ounces of water each day. However, I have an issue with this… shocker

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Water, water everywhere, but how much should you drink?

 While this is a good start, it’s not a comprehensive prescription. The main reason for this is that it’s generic. You can’t prescribe a set intake of water without taking into account individual activity level, personal environment and most importantly of all, the individual themselves. You see, we are all different and any prescription which are going to tell you that you an fit into a one size fits all protocol is something to think long and hard about. Drinking half your own bodyweight in ounces a day is a good place to start, but just like finding out your nutritional requirements, hydration is part science and part self experimentation. You must individualize every aspect of your training, your nutrition, and your hydration is no different. So make sure you take the time to experiment with how much water you need. Drink more, drink less, drink at different times, and base everything on how you perform and how you feel.

But how do you check your hydration levels? Well, checking the colour of your urine is the most tangible methods of checking the hydration levels of your body. The clearer your urine, the more hydrated you are. The darker your urine, the more dehydrated you are. Simple yes? Simple it may be but despite the tangibility of this test, it has its limitations. The fact is, is that it’s far too easy to become dehydrated. You are constantly losing water through all of your primary bodily functions: respiration, perspiration, urination etc.

During your sleep it is not uncommon to lose on average a pint of water in a period of 8 hours. The body, depending on whom you talk to, is 70-73% water, and as such losing just a small part of that can have a huge effect on you and your body’s performance. Knowing when you are dehydrated is a difficult thing, mainly due to the lag time. This ‘lag time’ is caused by the fact that once you are dehydrated, you are going to continue to be dehydrated until you have caught up, which is a difficult thing to do as it takes time for your body to process water and partition water into the cells of your body. The primary signs of dehydration such as darkened urine, headaches, reduced mental cognition and thirst, usually come on too late in the game.

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Whoever this was, they need water…STAT!!!

This is especially important for the athlete to bear in mind. The reason for this being that muscle cells can hold up to 7 times more water than fat cells. This should give you some idea of just how much of your mass is water based, but also how being a leaner individual puts an even greater focus on your hydration regime as, once the water has left your muscles, you don’t have fat stores to fall back on, and as such, the body will break down muscle cells in order to re-hydrate the body as best as it can. This of course has a huge impact on your performance, which can start to suffer at as little as 3% dehydration. A study at Ball State University USA, showed a drop in performance by 7% in runners over a 10K distance when dehydrated by only 2-3%. An interesting test you can use to test for your water demands is to hydrate yourself before training, weigh in, and then weigh in again after training. This should give you a decent idea of how much water you have lost during the time that you train. For every Lb that you lose, drink 16oz of water which should make up for the lag time and allow you to have water left in the tank to continually hydrate your body.

Now, chucking lots of water is great, however, water alone is not enough, you need something to bind that water within your cells. This is where things are getting interesting. Electrolytes such as Sodium, Chloride, Potassium and Calcium are all minerals that are not only responsible for water retention within the cells of your body, but are also responsible for helping within nerve transmission, muscle contraction, muscle relaxation glycogen formation, ATP production and more, electrolytes are the glue to holding your hydration protocol together. As you can see, the presence of electrolytes are hugely important, and are the meeting point between nutrition and hydration. The food you eat provides the electrolytes that are going to keep you in a performance ready state, and as such, you want to make sure that you are on top of all aspects of fuelling your body, but be warned. Just like water, over/under consumption can be equally harmful to your performance, and causes more sever conditions such as hypernatremia and hyponatremia.

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Dehydration + Training = KO

HYPERNATREMIA – when the level of electrolytes in the body, specifically sodium, reaches a very high level. This high level of electrolytes out balances your water intake and as such to make up for this imbalance, water is drawn out of the muscles causing dehydration.

HYPONATREMIA – Electrolyte levels in the body reach very low levels due to over consumption of water. Due to a lack of electrolytes, either due to lack of consumption, or having them washed out by your water intake, causes your body to have no way of retaining water at a reasonable rate which keeps up with your level of dehydration.

These are obviously less than optimal states for your body to be in. So remember, hydration and nutrition are two parts of the same coin. Without optimal hydration, you will not be able to perform the extent where you are effectively using the fuel that you have digested. Equally, without proper nutrition, your ability to retain water and perform in a more optimal state is severely diminished. Hydration and nutrition are the foundations upon which you build your performance, so give them the respect that they deserve, and in doing do, respect your own athletic potential.

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“Hydration… Do it!”

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