Well it looks like summer is here with temperatures in the 90’s this week. We all know what happens when we mix warmer weather with outdoor activities, right? You got it, we sweat like crazy and most folks replace that sweat with something other than water. On average, the human body is about 65% water and that amount will range a little higher and a little lower based on age, sex, weight, health, exercise and environment you are in. It is essential that as you sweat, you replace that fluid with clear water to maintain the fluid balance in your body. How essential is water? Well, you could survive for weeks without food, but only a handful of days without water. So you ask, how much water do I need? A great question to ask as we all remember the rule of 8-8 ounce glasses (64 ounces total), right? It is a great number to start with, but you more than likely are going to need more. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average male needs 13 cups (104 ounces) and the average female requires 9 cups (72 ounces) of water daily. I like to tell my clients to shoot for half of their body weight in ounces for water intake. For myself at 225 pounds I shoot for roughly 112 ounces of water a day.
Water is used to transport nutrients and oxygen throughout the body to your cells. Water is used to remove toxins from the body’s vital organs and waste from cells. Your skin, which is an organ, needs to be hydrated as well. According to a University of Wisconsin article about the benefits of drinking water and your skin, a lack of being fully hydrated results in skin that is dry, tight and flaky. This is due to the skin being the last of the organs to see the water you are drinking as the ones you don’t see will soak it up first. If you are not getting enough to satisfy the inside, the outside will reflect that in skin that is less resilient and more prone to wrinkles. A great bodily feedback mechanism to let you know quickly if you are adequately hydrated is the color of your urine. A hydrated individual’s urine will be colorless to light yellow in color whereas a dehydrated individual’s urine will be dark yellow to brown with brown being severe. Some other indicators of being dehydrated are headaches and dizziness and even being fatigued.
I always get asked if ice tea, or coffee or juices will satisfy fluid requirements as folks will say the hate the taste of water. I prefer my clients to get their fluid intake from water first. Coffee and tea are made from water (and the myth of the diuretic effect of coffee contributing to dehydration has been debunked) so I say a quiet yes to these but ask clients to limit these intakes. Alcohol on the other hand is a huge dehydrator. To help with water taste issues, add a slice of lemon to it.
Some additional great sources of water are fruits, vegetables and lean meats as they contain large amounts of water by weight. A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables goes a long way in meeting hydration requirements. Some examples of water concentration in fresh fruit would be melons as 91% of their weight is from water and bananas come in at 75%. In your vegetable choices, starchy products like potatoes, beans and peas come in at an average of 70% water. Non-starchy vegetables like cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini and leafy vegetables contain upwards of 95% water in their weight. Protein supplier’s like fish, poultry and lean cuts of meat contain approximately 65% water.
A great tip for athletes from American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) trainer Mary Nadelen is to consume up to 10 ounces of water 20 minutes before exercise and up to 10 ounces of water every 15 minutes during exercise and to drink 24 ounces of water for every pound lost within 2 hours of completing practice. You can look to follow this protocol for working hard in the yard or other activities as the temps climb this summer. Remember if you are thirsty you are already headed down the dehydration path.
So there you have it folks in a short and to the point message. You have to stay hydrated to be successful and present in all of your activities of daily life. It is so easy to get your fluids from multiple sources as depicted above, but I still reinforce to my clients to get most of their water from pure water. With that said, I am going to contradict the most interesting man in the world (you know the guy “Stay Thirsty My Friends”) and tell you to Stay Well Hydrated My Friends. I wish you great health and fitness. Bob