Water: Your Secret Weapon

Many people overlook the benefits of hydration.  There are those who do not like the taste of water, therefore they drink soda, tea, coffee, etc.  No matter what the excuse, they are missing out of the most important factor in sports nutrition.  There are many different types of water that can be purchased and like anything else there are sources that are better than others.  This article will shed some light on the importance of water and what sources are best.


What is so important about water?

The human body cannot make or store water so it is necessary to drink water throughout the day to replace what you eliminated.  Water makes up makes up about 60 percent of body weight and is involved in almost every bodily process. 


How much water do we need to drink?

As a rule of thumb, everyone should strive for eight cups of water each day, which amounts to around two quarts.  You can also figure out how much water you need to drink by taking your bodyweight in pounds and multiplying it by 0.55 to figure out how many ounces you need.  So a200 pound individual would need 110 ounces of water a day (200 x 0.55 = 110).  Obviously, if you are an athlete or avid exerciser, you will need more water so you can replace what you lost during a workout. 

For those who exercise or play sports, drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after the activity to avoid overheating and to stay hydrated.  You want to replace whatever fluids you lost due to exercise as soon as possible. 

You want to be drinking even when you aren’t thirsty.  By the time you are thirsty, you have already become dehydrated.  When you have lost about 2% of your bodyweight from water is when you will start to feel thirsty.  By this time it is too late and performance (especially in sports) will decline.  Continue to drink even after you are satisfied.  If you stop when you are satisfied, you will actually only get about half the amount you really needed. 

You will not get your daily requirements from food alone, therefore it is important to drink extra water on top of eating your plant foods. 


Will any water do the trick?

When exercising under 60 minutes, cool water is the best fluid to keep you hydrated.  For events lasting longer than 60-minutes, a sports drink that contains 6-10% carbohydrates will be best. 

It is important that you don’t drink just any kind of water.  You want to be careful where you are getting your source from.  You want to make sure the water you drink is pure so that you aren’t flooding your body with toxic chemicals.  Tap water for one normally contains chlorine, radon, arsenic, as well as other toxic chemicals that are not healthy. 

Many people purchase filtered water thinking that is their best option since the water is filtered—however, this isn’t the case.  Filtered water still contains some chemicals and surprising enough, there are even some bottled water that is worse that tap water. 

Minerals in mineral water are not organic and therefore are not used by the body.  The minerals in mineral water can be unbalanced and harmful and energy must be used to excrete the minerals. 

Your best source of water would be pure water that is distilled.  The only way for the water to be distilled would be for a vapor compression distillation process.  The benefit of distilled water is that it transports the inorganic minerals out of the body.  The cells and tissues of the body reject these inorganic minerals, which add to the purification of the body.


Does water from food count in daily requirements?

Good news for those who eat a lot of raw plant foods!  If you are eating a large amount of plant foods, your daily water requirement will already have a decent amount fulfilled by those foods.  Plant foods are primarily 80% water.  


Water cleanses the body

In the world of bodybuilding, high protein diets are what make up a large percentage of the population.  With that being said, the body needs to cleanse itself from the urea and ketones which is brought on by high protein consumption.  It is necessary to get rid of all these toxins in the body to help the kidneys function optimally. 


Will water help me lose weight?

You bet it will!  I know what you are thinking, that if you drink a lot of water you will get bloated and retain water which will make you weigh more.  However, this isn’t the case.  If you aren’t drinking enough water, your body will hold on to whatever water is already in your body and will not excrete any.  This means the water in your body will be used for normal bodily functions and will cause you to appear bloated.  The only way to get rid of that bloated look is to actually drink more water.  By doing so, your body will function much better and your metabolism will start to increase and will help you burn calories more efficiently. 

If you want to burn even more calories while drinking water then you want to make sure the water is ice cold.  Your body needs to warm up the water in order for it to be used properly.  Warming up the water uses energy, which uses calories.  This in turn will help you burn extra calories throughout the day. 


Feeling bloated?

If you are feeling and looking bloated, check your sodium intake.  If you look in the mirror and find yourself holding onto water, you need to either lower your sodium intake or increase your water intake.


What are some tips to staying hydrated?

  • Weigh yourself before and after your workouts and drink 2-3 cups of water for every pound of weight you lost during your workout.  You want to have your bodyweight back to normal before your next workout.

  • Drinking small amounts of water frequently rather than large amounts less often.

  • Pay attention to the amount and color of your urine. You should excrete urine that is nearly colorless.  Small amounts or dark colored urine can indicate dehydration.

  • Drink cold beverages to cool your core body temperature and reduce sweating.

  • Carry a water bottle with you at all times to ensure you can drink throughout the day.

  • Start and end your day with water.  Your body loses water while you sleep so by drinking some when you first wake and when you go to bed you will ensure proper hydration.

  • When struck by the flu or a cold, you will become dehydrated and should always keep water by your side at all time.


Can I die from drinking too much water?

Unfortunately yes.  I am sure most of you have heard about the incident that happened in California where a lady entered a contest at a radio station to win a Nintendo Wii.  The radio station held a contest where contestants drank as much water as they could without going to the bathroom and the last person still in the contest would win the new game system.  She placed second in the contest but became very ill.  The lady then died in her home of water intoxication. 

This is rare but it can happen.  What happens is that when too much water enters the cells, the tissues swell.  This causes an electrolyte and salt imbalance which can cause irregular heart beat and allow fluid to enter the lungs.  The pressure due to swelling will also put pressure on the brain and nerves, which can also cause problems.  Swelling in the brain can cause coma, seizures, and even death. 

What it really comes down to is not so much how much you drink, but the time frame in which you drank all the water.  The body can take in up to fifteen liters of water a day—which most people will never reach.  However, in a small time frame that can be dangerous.  It is said that consuming 0.79 gallons of water at one sitting can be fatal for someone who adheres to a normal diet (not low in sodium and not exercising prior to drinking).

Author:  Matt Weik

Follow Matt on Twitter @weikfitness

If you are looking to start a fitness or nutrition program, Matt Weik can help get you the results you desire.  You can reach him at matt@weikfitness.com.