With warmer wether on the horizon, hydration becomes more of a consideration during exercise and throughout your day. There is, however, more to hydration than water alone. Follow these simple tips to stay optimally hydrated for every workout and every minute in between.
What to drink
Your body is between 60-70% water and we know that hydration is an important part of everyday and exercise related health. We must consider, however, that there’s more to hydration than pure H2O. Our body needs the minerals and solutes that come from natural water for proper cell function. For this reason I see no place for distilled and “purified” water which has been popularised in some circles. Reach instead for a mixture of the following:
Simple filtered tap water
Bottled natural mineral water
Natural plant waters
(including coconut and tree waters such as Maple and Birch waters)
When to drink
Just as important as “what to drink” is the question of “when to drink.” It’s not good enough to wake up on a training or race day and attempting to binge hydrate before exercise. There’s only so much you can drink and absorb in such a short space of time. Instead, start topping up your hydration 24 hours in advance of any race or training session. Better still, get used to casually maintaining your hydration throughout the day (see below).
How to monitor your hydration
It’s very easy to monitor your hydration throughout the day. Simply take a look at the colour of your urine each time you go to the loo. When optimally hydrated your urine will be a pale straw-like colour with little odour. Your first pee of the day is usually darker and stronger smelling so drink a glass of water and monitor your second pee of the day. Take on moderate amounts of liquids over a few hours to achieve pale straw coloured urine and optimal hydration.
Note: Multi vitamins particularly B Vitamins will give you a bright yellow/orange urine and Coffee and asparagus affect the smell of your urine which makes urine monitoring more difficult.
Barriers to Hydration
Diuretics including caffeine in coffee, black tea and some sports drinks can interfere with your optimal hydration. Diuretics are compounds that make your kidneys pass more water out of your body through urination. Natural forms of caffeine can aid performance and fat burning when consumed appropriately, just be sure to take the diuretic effect into account.
A heavy carbohydrate meal takes a lot of water from your system for digestion. Consume a little extra fluid over the next couple of hours following such a meal.
Alcohol is also diuretic in action and requires extra body water to be processed and eliminated by the body. Be sensible about your alcohol consumption following exercise and ahead of an active day. Be aware of your hydration status following a night on the sauce.
Drinking during exercise
Now that you’re going into training and racing optimally hydrated, the key to optimal hydration is simple; drink according to thirst. That’s it.
For too long we have been told that “thirst is a poor indicator of hydration.” If you’ve ever heard this nonsense I want you to forget it immediately. Thirst is a fantastic evolutionary mechanism that tells you when to drink. It will also tell you when you’ve drunk enough. When people are told to drink to excess, there is a danger of diluting the electrolyte balance of the body. Drink according to thirst and you will avoid this very serious risk to your safety.
In hot conditions your sense of thirst will keep you safe and sound. In addition, we usually run, ride or exercise more slowly in response to hot conditions so don’t be surprised if you drink the same or even less than on a cool training day.
To read more on this subject I highly recommend buying Waterlogged-the serious problem of over hydration in endurance sports. (⬅️Buy Here and Below⬇️)