I think it is now safe to say, winter is over! Hurrah! If you are anything like me, I’m outside as much as possible enjoying various sports, playing with the kids and eating and drinking on the terrace with my friends. With all the extra activities, it is easy to become dehydrated, which can hamper your daily wellbeing and have a serious impact on your sports performance. It’s time to develop a sound strategy for keeping ahead of your daily fluid needs, while still having as much fun as possible this summer.
First, a few facts. Water is the most essential nutrient that we consume each day. Two-thirds of your total body weight is water and it is vital for the proper function of every major organ in the body. Water is life. Years of hydration research has proven that even mild levels of dehydration can affect how we perform physically and emotionally. Sight and hearing are the first senses impaired by dehydration. As for your muscle function, 70% of this tissue is water and as you become dehydrated your body will shuttle water around the body to keep you moving. Without taking on water it isn’t long before your muscles cramp, stopping you in your tracks. Many an athlete has reported entire races being ruined because they didn’t pay enough attention to their hydration needs early enough.
Here are a few strategies to keep ahead of your daily water needs:
• Men should aim for 3.5 litres of water per day, women slightly less at 3 litres per day.
• Water should make up half of your daily fluid intake. Pure juices, milk, soup, non-caffeinated teas, juicy fruits and vegetable also provide hydration.
• Sip water throughout the day and stay ahead of your thirst. Once you are thirsty, you are already entering dehydration. If this happens, drink a big glass of water and avoid caffeine for the rest of the day.
• Two hours before you train drink 750ml of water and then top that up with an additional 250ml, 30 minutes before you start.
• Drink throughout your workouts and replace lost fluids when finished.
• Sports drinks are an option for exercise lasting more than 60 minutes.. These drinks contain important carbohydrates for endurance performance but are high in calories.
The other things we drink
Coffee, tea, caffeinated fizzy drinks and alcohol are among the things we drink that negatively impact our hydration levels. Don’t worry, I’m not going to take away all your fun! You can have these drinks in moderation as long as you compensate fluid loss with fresh water.
Around 90% of adults drink some form of caffeinated beverage every day. For some, it is a single morning espresso, for others, caffeinelaced beverages are always close at hand.
Research has confirmed that caffeine is a mild diuretic, stimulating urine production from the kidneys. When drunk in moderate amounts, you will not suffer dehydration from caffeine consumption alone. So, you ask, what is moderate consumption?
• Two caffeinated drinks a day should satisfy your need for a pick-me up without affecting your hydration.
• Excessive use of caffeine can have other side effects such as nervousness, tummy upset, irritability and insomnia.
• Aim to drink non-caffeinated drinks in the afternoon, avoiding dehydration at the end of the day.
A glass of wine or bottle of beer is a great way to relax at the end of the day. Alcohol, however, plays no role in the recovery of human tissues and is a proven diuretic. Alcohol and sports performance don’t mix well and cutting out alcohol from your diet will improve your ability to stay healthy and increase the benefits of training. Caution should be used when consuming alcohol as it has a negative impact impacts hydration and can interfere with the proper uptake of vitamins and minerals in your body. Further to this, alcohol is full of empty calories that your body metabolizes as fat. When faced with a situation where you want to have a drink, remember the following:
• Match your alcohol consumption with water consumption. Alternate one for one when you are out socializing.
• Know your limits and respect them.
• Don’t train after you have had a few drinks – you will be dehydrated and your reaction time will slow down.
• Training after a big night out? Drink at least 1.5 litres of water before you start and go easy! Hydration is key to feeling great every single day. By paying just a little extra attention to your daily fluid needs you will be ready to enjoy the glorious summer that awaits us. As a little present from me to you, here are a couple of recipes to spruce up your next glass of water.
Ginger mint water
1-10cm piece of ginger, cut into 1/2cm pieces
3 sprigs fresh mint
2 litres of fresh mineral water
Crush the ginger and mint. Place in a pitcher and add water. Refrigerate and steep for one hour, strain over ice. Pour any extra into a clean pitcher or water bottle.
Pineapple mint water
¼ pineapple, peeled and cut into triangles
8-10 mint leaves
2L of fresh mineral water
Place pineapple and mint in a pitcher and pour in water. Refrigerate and steep at least 3 hours, strain over ice. Pour any extra into a clean pitcher or water bottle.
Cheers, enjoy the summer!