Water helps keep your body hydrated and is responsible for allowing it to function during exercise. It regulates your body temperature and lubricates joints, allowing your body to perform at its highest-level during long exercise periods. If you don’t drink enough fluid, then your physical and mental performance becomes affected. A loss of fluid equal to 2% of body mass is enough to affect your performance at the gym; causing potential nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal problems. Therefore, to keep your body healthy and improve your physical performance, you should keep hydrated during your workouts.
Why Do You Sweat When Exercising?
When you exercise, your body sweats because it is returning to its optimal temperature. The sweat evaporates from your skin and removes heat from the body; however, this also removes body fluid. When at the gym, for every litre of sweat that evaporates from your body, 600 calories of heat energy is lost from your body. With one hour of exercise, your body can lose more than a quarter of its water, this can result in dehydration. This means that for one hour’s worth of exercise, the average person loses about one litre of fluid. If you are dehydrated before you start a workout at the gym, then your core temperature rises faster, and your heart works faster.
Why Should You Drink Water Whilst Exercising?
Drinking water during exercise at the gym allows you to retain the fluid you lose whilst sweating. This also reduces the risk of heat stress, normal body function and helping performance levels. Keep hydrated helps regulate body temperature, blood pressure, help clean your body and remove toxins. It also helps the immune function, aiding digestion and helping transportation of oxygen and nutrients around the body, improving blood flow and circulation. It also helps with the contraction of muscle tissues. Stored glycogen is used by muscle cells for contraction, and is stored alongside water, therefore, it is used for muscle contraction when water loss occurs.
Drinking water enables the body to process and transport nutrients, it also helps the excretion of waste products once they are metabolised. This is very important for bodybuilders in the gym or those who want to increase muscle, as they consume large amounts of water, food vitamins and supplements. If you want to build up muscle whilst at the gym, it is important that you stay hydrated to build up muscle and optimal performance. Muscles are controlled by nerves, therefore, without water and electrolyte balance, muscle strength and control can be impaired. Furthermore, drinking water can also help your workout routine, allowing you to lose weight. If you drink 2 cups of water before a meal, this can help you lose up to 5lbs more in a year, helping maintain healthy weight loss. This is due to water speeding up the metabolic rate, preventing over-eating.
What Happens If I Don’t Drink Enough?
One of the main effects of lack of hydration is dehydration when the water content in your body is too low. Symptoms include headaches, fatigue, mood changes, slow reaction times, muscle cramps, weakness, confusion and hallucinations. Another way to tell if you are dehydrated is to check your urine, if you have darker urine and a lack of sweat when exercising then this means you might be dehydrated. Heat illness can occur when your body is dehydrated during exercise or in hot weather, symptoms include cramps, exhaustion and can result in heatstroke. If there’s not enough water in the blood, then blood volume and blood pressure can drop; this results in dizziness and fatigue.
Another condition that can arise is Cardiovascular drift that refers to the increase in heart rate, caused by prolonged endurance-based exercise, even if you are working at a constant intensity. This increase in heart rate can occur when your body is dehydrated. If you exercise for long periods of time or in hot temperatures, an increased loss of fluids occurs through sweat, expiration and muscle contraction. This can result in a decrease in blood plasma which is the fluid part of the blood, causing a thickening of the blood.
How Do I Know If I’m Drinking Enough?
In order to work out if you’re drinking enough, you should weigh yourself without clothes before and after your workout. If your weight changes by more than 2% of your starting weight, then you should plan on drinking more water in your future workouts. The sweat rate calculation states that you should weigh yourself first thing in the morning after you’ve been to the toilet. You should weight again after exercise once you’ve been to the toilet. For every kilogram of body weight that you lose, you should drink up to a litre and a half of fluid.
How Much Should I Drink?
To avoid dehydration, the American Council on Exercise recommends drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water, every 2 to 3 hours before working out. This means you should drink about 20 to 30 minutes before, drinking around 8 ounces. During exercise, you should continue to drink 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes. Within 30 minutes of completing your workout, you should drink another 8 ounces. However, you should also drink down 16 to 24 extra ounces. If you exercise for longer than two hours or in a hot or humid environment, then this should be increased for the work you’re putting your body through. Make sure you monitor fluid losses by weighing in before and after training, especially during hot and humid weather. You should make sure you drink water before, during and after exercising and should not rely on thirst as an indicator.
What Affects How Much I Should Drink?
Drinking the right amount of water depends on individual factors. These include the length and intensity of exercise and other individual differences. The amount you should drink during exercise depends on how much you sweat and how long you are exercising for. It is also affected by your size, fitness level, duration, diuretics, and your exercise intensity. It is also affected by the environment such as whether it is hot, humid or cold. You will sweat more in hot humid conditions as your core temperature will heat up faster and more quickly. Humidity will also significantly affect your sweating levels; this is because more fluid in the air makes it harder for sweat to evaporate. This prevents helping your body to cool down faster. You will also lose more water and sweat more as you exercise harder.
Can You Drink Too Much?
Drinking too much water can potentially be harmful to your body. In very rare cases cause a condition called hyponatraemia. This occurs when you drink more fluid than you lose through sweating and urinating; excess water dilutes salts in your body and your cells swell up. The amount of water you have to drink to get hyponatraemia varies from person to person. However, the symptoms include feeling bloated, headaches, confusion or disorientation, feeling sick or vomiting. If you are experiencing these symptoms or hyponatraemia, then you should get emergency medical help immediately.
Can I Drink Other Fluid Replacement Drinks Or Sports Drinks?
Fluid replacement drinks or sports drinks containing between 6-8% carbohydrates can provide energy and improve performance. They also maintain blood glucose levels. These drinks are often isotonic; this means the concentration of the drink is equal to the concentration of the blood. This helps the movement of electrolytes and carbohydrates into the bloodstream, helping the speed of water absorption. If this happens fast, then the faster the effects of dehydration are targeted. Plain water is hypotonic; therefore, it has a lower concentration than the blood; this means it replaces lost fluids fast and helps rehydration after exercise sessions. Hypertonic drinks are more concentrated than body fluids; these will be absorbed slower than plain water. This slows down the speed that the stomach empties, reducing the speed of replacement.
Sodium, chloride and potassium are electrolytes, with some considering magnesium in this group as well. These help to moderate fluid exchanges in the body’s fluid compartments, promoting an exchange of nutrients and waste products. Drinking too much water and not enough electrolytes pulls electrolytes from cells to create the right balance for absorption.
It is advisable to introduce a water purifier or water filter for your exercise routines. These provide you with pure, rich and quality water for you. You should check how our products help improve workouts and physical fitness here. You should ensure that you drink lots of water during your exercise routine to keep hydrated; this will help keep your body healthy and improve your performance whilst exercising.