By Mike Steck
Summertime is here, which means lots of fun in the sun! It also means higher temperatures which means more SWEAT. That being said, adequate hydration becomes even more important than it already is, especially if you are highly active. Water is the single most abundant component of our body composition, making up at least 60 percent of any individual, and is involved in just about every metabolic process. Many factors can affect your water requirements, including body type, diet, activity level, and even where you live. Many individuals don’t get as much water as they should on a daily basis, and this may very well be a compounding factor in many of our nation’s health problems. However, there is also something to be said for drinking too much water, which can also be dangerous to our health. The key to hydration – as it is with many things in life – is balance.
Although water balance is maintained through fluid intake as well as food intake, there is no substitute for good old fashioned water when it comes to hydration. Here are five tips to make sure you are getting the right amount of water every day!
1. Pay attention to your urine.
The color of your urine is the classic indicator of hydration. If it is a pale yellow color, you are well-hydrated. If it is bright or dark yellow, it might be time to drink another glass of water. Note, however, that your urine can sometimes be bright yellow even if you are adequately hydrated. If you take supplemental vitamins, these will cause your urine to be yellow even if you are hydrated. That being said, how frequently you go is another thing to keeps tabs on. A normal frequency for a healthy hydrated individual is about once every 2-3 hours, which comes out to 7-8 times a day. If you are running to the bathroom every hour though, you may very well be overdoing your fluid intake.
2. Drink water, not just water-containing beverages.
As I mentioned above, nothing can replace nature’s most precious source of nourishment (besides air) – plain, simple water. Coffee, soda, and sports drinks don’t have quite the same effect on our bodies as pure water. For one, coffee has diuretic properties which actually cause us to eliminate water, contributing to dehydration. And the concentrated sugar content of soda and many sports and energy drinks requires that our bodies use extra water to dilute and digest that atomic bomb of sweet goodness. So if you’re thirsty, opting for a glass of water might be the better option for restoring your body’s water balance.
3. Wake up and smell the coffee, but drink water first.
The first thing many of us do when we wake up in the morning is go to the bathroom and release a moderate amount of yellowish urine. Then we go straight to the coffee maker for that euphoric first cup of high-octane diuretic nectar. Can you sense what I’m getting at? When you wake up in the morning you are actually mildly dehydrated. Think about it, you’ve been asleep for the last 8 or so hours without a sip of water. Your body, however, has continued carrying out various processes, including tissue repair as a result of the previous day’s workout. These processes all require water. So a better thing to do first thing in the morning is pour a glass of water. I personally down 24 ounces as soon as I wake up, then I have my coffee.
4. Utilize mobile technology.
If something exists, chances are there’s an app for it. And that happens to be the case with hydration. There are numerous smartphone apps that help you track your water intake by sending you reminders throughout the day to drink up. I personally use “My Water,” which determines your water needs based on your gender, weight, and activity level. It also let’s you input any type of fluid you take in and calculates what percentage of a given beverage actually contributes to your body’s water balance.
5. Be consistent.
One of the biggest downfalls of many people’s attempts to live healthily is lack of consistency with both training and nutrition. The key to maintaining health and wellness is consistent, daily habits, not the least of which is adequate water intake. Many people don’t stay consistently hydrated, but instead are intermittently hydrated, with many dry spells. This is not conducive to good health and, as I mentioned above, could be exacerbating many common health issues. Making sure you are getting the right amount of water on a daily basis is one of the most important habits you can adopt for your health. So drink up!
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