You’re working hard in the gym; sweat is pouring down your face and you chug some water. Great idea! However, simply drinking water won’t hydrate your body properly—in fact, the combination of losing sweat and replacing it solely with water can cause you to become dehydrated and even sickly.
Yes, water is essential, we’d die without it and need to drink it daily, but truth is, if you’re not replacing and replenishing lost minerals, your body and health will suffer.
With summer right around the corner, your sweat rate will rise and so won’t the need for proper replenishment. Here, Noah Alldredge, president of Hydration Health Products shares his knowledge on how to properly hydrate your body which in turn will boost energy, promote faster exercise recovery, and simply make you feel better.
Drinking too Much Water Can Actually Harm You
Water does a body good so keep drinking it. But, if it’s plain water, not infused with electrolytes (or your diet is lacking certain minerals) it can start to negatively impact your health.
Drinking only plain water will flush your body of its much-needed minerals stores and electrolytes that are imperative for bodily functions such as a regular heartbeat. And drinking too much water is a recipe for disaster. “Your kidneys can process about 32oz of water per hour; after that, you run the risk of getting hypokalemia or more common hyponatremia that can cause irregular heartbeats, and in the worst-case scenario cause death,” Alldredge warns.”
“Overdrinking water alone dilutes your blood electrolytes,” he adds, which can then harm your body causing scary symptoms. Simply put, overhydration with water alone leads to dehydration.
The best way to avoid this is to make sure you’re getting proper electrolytes and minerals every day- especially if you exercise regularly.
Minerals That Support Hydration
Electrolytes are minerals your body needs to function properly. Be aware of these 4 essential electrolytes:
Hydrating Drink and Food Options
“The average person loses around 2,500mg of electrolytes per pound of sweat,” Alldredge says, making these hydrating drinks and food choices a perfect method to stay hydrated.
- Coconut water: One cup of unsweetened coconut water packs 9% of the daily value of potassium (and has only 45 calories).
- Watermelon (and other melons): These fruits are loaded with water and minerals, making them a great post-workout choice for hydration.
- Smoothies: Berry-focused smoothies are high in fiber; pack a high amount of vitamin C and you can add in your favorite electrolyte powder. Add a frozen banana for texture and a boost of potassium.
- Milk: Milk contains protein, fat, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, a perfect addition to your protein shakes due to the many minerals and vitamins.
- Yogurt: With a water content of 85% and similar benefits to milk, yogurt is packed with probiotics and minerals to help your body stay hydrated.
- Cucumbers: Made of 96% water and loaded with minerals, add these to your salads or dip them in hummus to keep your hydration on point.
Alarming Dehydration Facts
Alldredge shares some important facts on dehydration that place an important emphasis on getting ahold of proper hydration.
- Three percent dehydration is equivalent to having a blood alcohol content of .08, reducing your reaction time by 17% or making you five times more likely to be in an accident.
- Three percent dehydration reduces cardiac output by 20%.
- Dehydration is the number one reason for a drop off in athletic performance.
- Dehydration is why OSHA regulates hydration in workplace settings to help with productivity and decrease the likelihood that you are going to get injured.
- For every milliliter of alcohol consumed, your body produces 10ml of urine; from the over urination your brain shrinks and that is how a headache/hangover happens.
- Seventy percent of Americans walk around dehydrated on a daily basis, it’s the No. 1 reason for daytime fatigue and headaches, a lot of time hunger is misdiagnosed when it’s dehydration, as you lose cartilage in joints dehydration exacerbates joint problems.
Signs of Dehydration
Although these symptoms may mean you are dehydrated, it doesn’t always mean so. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s best to contact your doctor.
- Dark-colored urine, or very light-colored urine if you are overhydrated
- Dry or cracked skin
- Light-headedness and dizziness
- Heart palpitations
- Low blood pressure
- Altered mental state or poor concentration
How to Know Your Hydration Level and What Your Urine Should Look Like
If you’re feeling “off” and want to know your hydration levels, Alldredge recommends getting tested.
“The best way to know your hydration level is to do a hydration test- they have some pretty savvy saliva test these days,” he says. Contact your doctor or a registered dietician for more information on this.
Another way to tell if you’re hydrated or not is by looking at your urine. “Ideal urine color is pale yellow, clear means you are over hydrated,” says Alldredge.
Keep track of your urine color and how you feel, this can help you navigate your hydration journey and keep you on track or get you back on.
What to Look for In a Hydration Drink
Like everything else, not all hydration drinks are created equal, therefore it’s important to check out what’s on the labels. “The average American consumes 161 pounds of sugar per year,” Alldredge says. “To burn that amount of calories you would have to walk 53 days without stopping.”
But here’s the thing, electrolytes need a delivery method to get across the intestinal membrane for absorption. “Sugar is effective but also has its drawbacks, like blood sugar abnormalities, feeding bacteria, and caloric content,” says Alldredge.
If you are not needing the extra calories, Alldredge suggests you look for a product that is sugar-free and has a delivery system.
Now that Your Minerals Are on Point, Here’s How Much Water You Should be Drinking
“Sweat rates increase when it is 68 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer,” Alldredge explains. He adds that when it’s at least 80 degrees outside, sweat rates can be as high as four to six pounds per hour depending on the intensity of the work being performed. So it’s critical to place importance on hydrating properly and knowing how much water your body needs (or doesn’t need).
When it comes to hydrating with water, “a great goal is to try to drink half your body weight in an ounce of fluid per day,” says Alldredge. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, try to drink 100 ounces, he says.
“Muscle & Fitness readers like to work hard in the gym and sometimes play hard outside of the gym; focusing on hydration/rehydration will speed up recovery and enhance those gains they are looking for in the gym,” he adds, motivating to keep your body hydrated and gains at peak level.