Staying Hydrated

As the weather starts to warm up, it is important to remember that some of our bodily needs may be changing as well.  For me, the combination of warm weather and working out can mean splitting headaches, if I do not plan accordingly.  Hydration is huge- and I would be willing to bet that most of us stay in a slightly dehydrated state. 

Our body does not even signal to us that we are thirsty until we have already lost 1-2% of our body water.  To give you some perspective here, a loss of 6% of your body’s water can lead to heatstroke, and a 10% loss can lead to death.  We are composed of nearly 60% water, so I do not know about you, but I sure want to make sure I stay hydrated. 

For the average person, about 8 cups of water per day should be sufficient.  Keep in mind that you do get some hydration from foods as well.  But, for those of us who are out there working up a sweat, we need to be diligent about replacing what fluids we lose.  Factors such as temperature, humidity, altitude, and activity levels can all play a role in how much water we need.

But did you know that you can drink too much water?  It is true and drinking too much water can offset the balance of fluids in your body and lead to symptoms similar to those of dehydration. 

Signs of dehydration                         Signs of hyponatremia (too much water)

*Headache                                                           *Headache

*Dizziness                                                            *Nausea

*Nausea                                                        *Confusion/restlessness

*Low blood pressure                                         *Restlessness

*Rapid heart rate                                                *Swelling of hands/feet

Given that the symptoms can be similar, it is important for us to pay attention and realize what our bodies may be trying to tell us.

Athletes are especially prone to hyponatremia (too much water, not enough soidum), because while working out and being thirsty, they can sometimes over do it with their hydration.  This is where you hear people talking about electrolytes.  Electrolytes are minerals that play a large role in our body’s fluid balance (sodium and potassium are two you have probably heard of).  Has anybody ever told you to try Pedialyte for a hangover or when you are sick?  It is because the electrolytes aide in proper hydration and maintaining the balance of fluids within our bodies. 

As you now realize, there is much more that goes in to staying hydrated than just drinking more water.  Here are some things that you might want to consider before you determine how much water you should be drinking daily, and if you should be actively looking for sources of electrolytes:

  • How active are you?
    • What kind of activity are you doing, how long does it last, what is the intensity level?
  • Do you sweat a lot?
    • Whether you are mowing the lawn, going for a hike, or running a 10k- how much are you sweating?
  • What kind of climate do you live in?
    • Dry, humid, hot, cold, high-altitude, etc.

Most of all, listen to your body and be prepared.  If you have a long run or workout, prepare before you go…remember what we said about how much water you have already lost before you notice you are thirsty.  Do not wait until you are mid workout/run and realize you have not had any water today, plan ahead.  And, if you decide that you should be adding some electrolytes to the mix, be careful what you choose.  Many times, electrolyte products come laced with unwanted additives and hidden sugar.  Remember, electrolytes are found in many whole foods as well, so you do not necessarily have to supplement with them.  Coconut water is a great example- it has lots of electrolytes.  Check out Amy Wamy’s Foods N Fitness on Instagram for some of my favorite electrolyte drinks! 

Stay hydrated out there and enjoy the warm weather!

Amy

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