Hydration is very important for many physiological functions and especially at this time of the year. Proper hydration helps to digest food more efficiently, eliminate waste products from the body, control the temperature, make sure that joints move well, and that overall energy production is stable. Your hydration level also has a significant impact on cognitive performance. This means that your brain works faster, better, and you can memorize more things when you are properly hydrated compared to when you are dehydrated. Even just losing 2-3% of your body weight from sweating can dramatically affect your cognitive functions such as short-term memory, attention, and speed. This means that if you are 150 pounds and lose 3 pounds of water weight from sweating or perspiration it will have a significant impact on your performance. This can happen fairly easily on a hot day, after exercise, or just playing a round of golf. Many people may suffer from a low-grade dehydration and could potentially benefit from increasing their water intake slightly.
Cells that are more hydrated use fat as fuel more easily compared to fat cells that are more dehydrated. Also, the increased hydration saves protein better compared to the dehydrated condition. A better hydration level will make it easier for your body to use stored fat as fuel and to maintain muscle which will have great benefits for your health. Exercising while being well hydrated will give you more benefits from the exercise.
Drinking water along with your food has been shown to increase satiety. By replacing other sugary options such as soda or juice and instead going for a regular glass of water has been shown to decrease the overall energy intake throughout the day. By choosing water over a soft drink can decrease your calorie intake by nearly 70 kilocalories per glass of water. This will have a huge impact on your weight over a long period of time. Drinking water also increases your metabolic rate significantly which can help you maintain a healthy weight or assist your weight loss efforts.
It has also been shown that people that exercise get a more favorable hormonal response following exercise when properly hydrated. There was a significant difference between being properly hydrated before exercise compared to those that were dehydrated. When measuring stress hormones you could see extra high cortisol in the dehydrated group. This group also had decreased amount of testosterone and growth hormone following exercise. Hydrating well before resistance training could potentially help you get better results from your resistance training.
Not only does drinking more water usually benefit your health, eating foods that contain a higher percentage of water has been shown to be beneficial for weight loss and keeping people slim. People that consume more water from foods have a much lower BMI and waist circumference compared to people that eat food containing less water. The researchers from this study are not sure what caused this, however, foods that are higher in water tends to be associated with a healthier status overall. This includes foods such as vegetables, fruits, meat or fish, yogurt and etc.
Drinking water during exercise is not crucial for performance. If the exercise bout is over an hour to 90 minutes drinking water sporadically throughout can be mentally beneficial. In a study comparing 90 minutes of treadmill running at 70% of your VO2max, there was no performance benefit to drinking water every 20 minutes during the exercise bout. This shows that it did not have any immediate performance benefits, however, the group that did drink water every 20 minutes perceived the exercise to be more enjoyable. This shows that during prolonged exercise having some water can have mental benefits but does not affect the performance of the workout.
Please note that more is not always better. You can dilute the body’s natural electrolyte balance by consuming too much water. Drinking an excess of water will have negative effects of its own and should be avoided. If you are exceeding the recommended ounces by a lot make sure that you maintain a proper electrolyte balance. Drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia which can be fatal.
Follow these steps for better performance and health:
- Divide your bodyweight into half. Try to drink this many oz for your daily total (daily total = food in water + beverages)
- Math example: John Smith weighs 180lbs. 180/2= 90oz. John should strive for getting 90oz. 1 cup of water contains 8oz.
- Eat whole foods that naturally have a higher water content (vegetables and fruit)
- Replace drinks higher in sugar and calories for water (sodas, sweet drinks, juice, and etc)
- Consistently drink water throughout the day
- Start your meal with a tall glass of water for better satiety
- Mix it up by having some carbonated water with added flavor
- Having your protein shake after exercise is a great way to replace lost fluids
- For longer exercise bouts (60-90+min) drink some water every 20min for mental benefits
Cognitive performance – https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stephen_Patterson/publication/8498454_The_relation_of_hydration_status_to_cognitive_performance_in_healthy_older_adults/links/00b7d524daf6e3869d000000.pdf
Better hydration improves fat burning – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14681716
Foods that are high in water are slimming – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18547786
Improved hormonal response to exercise when hydrated – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18617629
Prolonged exercise and water – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17095117
Drink water and consume fewer calories – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jhn.12368/abstract;jsessionid=0D691B2E9318E50524FC090C72F1062F.f03t03
Water boosts metabolism – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14671205
B.S. Exercise Science from Lindenwood University
Started CrossFit in 2010.
Favorite thing about what I do:
To help and see people improve their fitness and confidence
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association
CF L1 Coach
CF L2 Coach
USAW Sports Performance Coach & club coach