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Are you dying of thirst?

The bones that support your body are 25% water. The muscles that drive performance are 75% water. The blood that carries nutrients to your muscles is 82% water. The lungs that oxygenate you are 90% water. Your brain that motivates you is 76% water.

People tend to think that it's impossible to drink the recommended 1.5 - 2 litres of water a day. But often these people are having a couple of coffees in the morning, a can of soft drink with lunch, and alcoholic beverages with their dinner. They all provide hydration, but are not as healthy as water.

Substituting these drinks with water will make it easier for you to achieve the recommendations. Start by drinking a couple of glasses when you first get up in the morning and then continue to drink water throughout the day. Keep a bottle of water with you all day and drink plenty before, during and after your workout.

Somewhere between 70 and 75 percent of the earth's surface is covered with water.
Michael Colgan in his book Optimum Sports Nutrition labelled us a "hairy bag of water". Very apt considering the body is approximately 66% water.

Keeping your fluid levels topped up is crucial for optimal performance. The main factors that will negatively affect performance and increase fatigue are insufficient carbohydrate stores and poor fluid intake. Research has shown that even mild dehydration of 1% bodyweight can negatively affect performance.

In an attempt to prevent a rise in core temperature as you exercise, the body tries to get rid of excess heat through sweating and also as water vapour in the air as you breathe out. Unless fluid is replaced, sweating causes a drop in circulating blood volume and a thickening of the blood. When this occurs, the heart has to work harder to maintain blood flow to the muscles, making exercise seem a whole lot harder!

According to Michael Colgan performance literally dries up without adequate hydration.
"Dehydrate a muscle by only 3% and you cause about a 10% loss of contractile strength, and an 8% loss of speed." In an article written by Lee Coyne Ph.D. entitled 'Water for Health and Performance' "Even low levels of dehydration have physiological consequences. A loss of 2% bodyweight (just 1kg for a 50kg person) causes an increase in perceived effort and is claimed to reduce performance by 10-20% A fluid loss exceeding 3-5% bodyweight reduces aerobic exercise performance noticeably and impairs reaction time, judgment, concentration and decision making - vital elements in all sports,from pole-vaulting to football."

Are you drinking enough?
Take the pee test. Sounds classy I know but this provides an easy way to check your water intake. When water losses from the body exceed water intake, the kidneys need to conserve water, making the urine more concentrated and darker in colour. Dark coloured urine is a good indicator that you are dehydrated. If you are drinking enough water then your urine should be almost clear. Please note however that certain vitamin supplements and vegetables such as beetroot can alter this colour.

A healthy person can drink about three gallons (48 cups) of water per day. Drinking too much water too quickly can lead to water intoxication. Water intoxication occurs when water dilutes the sodium level in the bloodstream and causes an imbalance of water in the brain.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
• Headaches
• Dry eyes / Dry mouth
• Drowsiness / Light headedness
• Reduced concentration
• Irritability
• Reduced urine output
• Fatigue
• Muscle weakness
Reduced performance

Soft drinks, coffee and tea, while containing mostly water, also contain caffeine. Caffeine can act as a mild diuretic, preventing water from travelling to necessary locations in the body. From a health point of view these are not the best choices but can contribute towards your daily intake. By the time a person feels thirsty, his or her body has lost over 1 percent of its total water amount.

Recommendations
• Don't wait until you are thirsty
• Sip fluid throughout the day - aim for 8 glasses of good quality water, herbal teas, diluted fruit and vegetable juices
• Remember that a diet high in fruit and vegetables will have a high water content that contributes towards daily intake
• Arrive hydrated to your exercise session
• Exercise can suppress thirst - so get into the habit of drinking regularly during your session
• Take a water bottle with you
• Sportmediceine.about.com recommend drinking 300ml every 10 - 15 mins during exercise
• If exercising longer than 90 minutes then the addition of a sports drink formula can help performance
• Adjust drinking strategy according to heat - training in warm temperatures or outside in the sun encourages more sweat loss - therefore drink more
• Weigh yourself before and after exercise and replace fluid losses - each kilogram of weight loss equates to approximately 1 litre of water
References
www.centralhome.com - 'Water for Health and Performance' by Lee Coyne
The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition Anita Bean
Optimum Sports NutritionMichael Colgan
www.sportsmedicine.about.com

Written by Mandy Bonhomme at 15:50

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