Do you sometimes get to 3pm and feel completely drained? Or eaten lunch and felt hungry an hour later? Ever woken up after a good night’s sleep with a headache? All these things could be due to a lack of proper hydration! Hydration is SO important in every aspect of life. It helps to regulate your heart rate and body temperature, keeps your digestive system functioning properly and keeps your bowel motions regular. Hydration also helps enhance anabolic hormones and promotes muscle growth (did someone say gains?!?) and assists your body and its organs to flush out any toxins and assists in the circulation of blood and nutrients around the body. You could say that water is somewhat of a natural detox for your body.
The benefits of hydration don’t end there! Studies show us that dehydration actually affects physical and mental performance. Even just a 2% fluid loss can decrease performance. Even just the smallest amount of dehydration can cause an increase in your heart rate and core body temp and make your workout feel harder than it really is.
How much water should we really drink?
As everyone is different, different sizes, different body types, different exercise regimens, different lifestyles, it really depends. The literature tells us that the average adult requires approximately 2 litres of water per day. That doesn’t have to be pure water however, it can be any fluids such as tea, cordial or juice. However, for maximum health benefits, we of course want the majority of our fluid intake to come from plain water. What people forget when they think about 2 litres per day is that you need to drink more if you exercise, if you have a physically active job, if you feel thirsty or if it’s hot. The amount of water you need to drink during exercise depends on the type of exercise you do, the intensity and the duration. The best way to tell if you’re adequately hydrated is by the colour of your urine, the lighter your urine the better hydrated you are. It is important to note that you can however drink too much, just like most things, overdoing it can do you more harm than good. Severe over hydration (although rare) can cause a very serious dilution of your sodium levels called hyponatraemia which can lead to headaches, confusion, a coma or even death in the most extreme cases.
How to get more hydrated!
Top 10 tips to increase your water intake:
1. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to have a drink of water – by the time you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated!
2. Carry a BPA free water bottle everywhere you go. It saves you buying water or other sugary drinks and by taking it with you everywhere you are reminded to drink.
3. Set an alarm on your phone or an alert in your calendar to drink every hour.
4. Have a large glass of water before every meal (hot tip: this will likely make you eat less too!).
5. Drink regularly throughout the day – buy a bottle that has the times written down the side of it each hour that reminds you to drink regularly (see below link to purchase my hydration bottle!).
6. If you dislike the taste of water, try infusing it with different low sugar combinations e.g. orange and ginger, cucumber and mint or strawberry and thyme.
7. Use an app to track the amount of water you drink each day.
8. Make it a workplace competition – eg. who can consistently reach their 2 litres per day for a month? Get a local fruit shop or gym to donate some prizes.
9. Instead of multiple coffees throughout the day, try some delicious herbal tea which is often very low in sugar. You also end up drinking nearly 250 mls of hot water with each cup of tea (which of course counts in your 2 litres each day).
10. Create a routine with your water intake – have a glass when you wake up, a glass with your medications, a glass before you leave for work, a glass each time you use the bathroom, a glass after every work meeting, a glass when you get home, a glass before dinner etc etc.
I hope this article has helped you understand why drinking water and adequate hydration is so important. I also hope that you learned some excellent tips to increase your water intake. If you are looking for a BPA free fruit infuser bottle with motivation times written down the side you can purchase the one I designed especially for you guys here!! (and yes I ship worldwide!)
Leanne Australian nutritionist, Dietitian and provisional Sports Dietitian. Her goal is to help people of all ages to make positive changes to live a healthier and happier future. Her website provides. Her recipes are simple and easy and made for the whole family to enjoy. Check our Leanne’s website here or follow her on Instagram here.