We all know that water is important for our bodies. It is a frequent message for any discussion on health and fitness. But, do we always listen? I know for me it’s hard to get in the recommended amount of water everyday, even though I know it’s good for me. Often, my motivation for water consumption ebbs and flows.
Motivation also becomes a real consideration when it comes to exercise. In fact, dehydration is major motivation sapper for your fitness efforts. Lean muscle tissue is made up of 75% water, so your body needs fluid and lubrication for the muscles to respond properly.
Naturally, exercise causes your body to heat up. The body responds by creating perspiration to cool you down and maintain your body temperature. However, if you have not taken in enough water, dehydration will cause lowered energy, dizziness and feelings of lethargy.
Feeling lightheaded during a workout is a sign of dehydration and a signal to tone it down a notch. Though willpower sometimes makes us want to push ourselves through a few more reps or another mile, feeling dizzy is an indicator that it’s time to hydrate.” Due to the decreased plasma volume with dehydration during exercise,” Casa says, “the heart must work harder to get blood to the working muscles.” When there’s not enough water in blood, both blood volume and blood pressure drop, resulting in dizziness.
Your urine should be a pale yellow color. If it has a concentrated color, this is a sign that you are not taking in enough water to flush out the impurities in your system.
Fruit and vegetables, depending on the variety, contain water and other electrolytes that your body needs. Some great water sources are lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, celery, watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit and tomatoes.
There has always been quite a debate on whether or not caffeinated beverages actually help or hurt in terms of water intake. Caffeine does have diuretic properties, so will you just end up losing all the hydrating effect anyway? While water is still king for hydration, there is research to suggest that caffeinated beverages can provide hydrating benefits.
A review on the topic, which summarized numerous studies on the subject conducted over nearly 40 years, reported that taking in a large amount of caffeine at one time (around 300 mg, or what you’d get in 2-3 cups of strong coffee – and not an amount you’d drink all at once) can promote urination, but only in people who haven’t had any caffeine for weeks. And those who are habitual caffeine consumers develop a tolerance to the diuretic effects – much like they develop a tolerance to the stimulating effects. The report also stated that “doses of caffeine equivalent to the amount normally found in standard servings of tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks appear to have no diuretic action”. So there you go; caffeinated beverages definitely “count” when it comes to meeting fluid needs.
As a southern girl, I live and die by my iced tea! I have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, my friends all expect iced tea when they come to my house. But, I have learned that the sweet iced tea of my youth is not the best alternative for drinking on a regular basis.
If you do choose tea or coffee as a supplemental water source, remember to curb the sugar. Drinking caffeinated drinks to increase your water intake is one thing; adding a considerable amount of sugar to these drinks is an entirely different ballgame. If you are going to consume sugar, a cupcake will be considerably more satisfying than wasting your empty sugar calories on your beverages.
Your body needs water to function properly. Drink an extra glass of water before you exercise. Take repeated sips of water at the slightest feeling of thirst. And then, drink a glass or two of water after a workout to replenish the liquid and electrolytes lost through perspiration.
At the gym I find it very easy to take in water because it is such a cool break from exercise. Seize on those opportunities when you feel a craving for water and take in as much as you can! Don’t let dehydration be one of your big motivation sappers for exercise.
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