Water, Baby: The When, How, and Why of Hydration

Water FootprintOkay. I swear. We’re not going to talk about the weather. Or how hot it’s been. Or the fact that triple-digit forecasts have become as unremarkable as a perm on The Brady Bunch. We are, however, going to talk about hydration. Namely, water. How to drink it, when to drink it, and why sometimes plain ol’ H2O isn’t enough.

First, to get yourself into the spirit of hydration, we suggest you watch this enlightening scene from The Three Amigos.

Alrighty then. Ready for Hydration 101? Good. Class is now in session.

  •  It takes a loss of only 1-2% of your body's ideal water content to cause dehydration. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. The effects of dehydration—nausea, diarrhea, muscle cramping, dizziness, fatigue—often start before we even realize what’s happening.
  • A 2% loss in body weight through sweat causes an increase in perceived effort and can reduce performance by 10-20%.  In plain English: Not drinking enough water makes you run slower. Ugh.
  • Feel hungry? You may actually just be thirsty. Yep. Your brain can misinterpret thirst for hunger. So before you reach for a snack, drink a glass of ice-cold water. Not only will you be giving your body what it’s asking for, but you’ll cut a few calories in the process.
  • Dry eyes? Nose? Throat? Your body might be trying to tell you that you’re dehydrated. The human body is more than 60% water. Blood is 92% water. The brain and muscles are 75% water. Bones are about 22% water. Dehydration affects every part of you.
  • Water makes you pretty. Seriously. Not only does water help the body metabolize stored fat, but it also helps maintain muscle tone, prevents sagging skin, and rids the body of toxic waste that can leave you feeling bloated and fatigued. Furthermore, dehydration has been linked to hair loss. If you want to look fah-bulous, keep a water bottle on hand.
  • Water makes your smarter. (Or at least keeps you from getting dumber.) Water directly impacts brain function and energy. Even slight dehydration can cause your brain to very slightly (but very critically) “shrivel,” impairing neuromuscular coordination and concentration.
  • You ain’t sweatin’ just water, honey. It’s not all about quantity. It’s also about quality. Your sweat is full of all sorts of vital nutrients such as sodium, potassium, and chloride (collectively known as electrolytes), and because you can’t replace those nutrients with plain H2O, water alone can’t combat the effects of dehydration. Be certain to use a low- or no-sugar electrolyte replacement such as GU Brew or NUUN tablets to replenish electrolyte stores.
  • Hydration isn’t just a mid-run activity. Proper hydration comes in the days before your training runs. Be ready (and stay ready) for tough workouts by drinking electrolyte-enhanced water throughout the week. By consuming electrolytes before, during, and after your workouts, you can boost preparation, improve performance, and accelerate recovery. 

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