hydrate after a workout

How to Get Ahead of Dehydration

Water is essential for your body’s functions, especially after a sweat-inducing workout. But there is a good chance you are not getting anywhere near what your body requires. As a matter of fact, Americans, on average, drink a little more than four eight-ounce glasses of water a day, which is a very small portion of what we need. 

Dehydration can cause a myriad of side effects that affect your weight, workout, brainpower, and overall quality of life. Some signs of being dehydrated are bad breath and a dry mouth, dark urine, feeling hungrier than normal, low blood pressure, fatigue, headaches, nausea, fainting, a fast heartbeat, slower brain functions, and a lowered mood. But why does dehydration wreak havoc on our bodies? Well, virtually every system in the body relies on water to function properly. Water not only protects and hydrates our organs, but it also transports nutrients to our cells and keeps us energized and our minds acute. It also plays an important role in balancing the levels of our electrolytes – minerals like sodium and potassium – in our body to keep our muscles functioning well. 

But, it gets a little bit more tricky when we talk about how much water you should drink. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:

  • About 15.5 cups (125.1 ounces) of fluid for men 
  • About 11.5 cups (91.3 ounces) of fluid for women

These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages, and food. But do not bank on getting most of your water from food, only about 20 percent of your daily fluid intake will come from food, the rest from drinks.

While this is a good starting recommendation, it is not right for everyone, or even your own water requirements day to day depending on how intense your workout was, if you have gained or lost weight, your hormones, and what you are doing at the moment. 

With all of the variables, the best way to stay hydrated starts right when you wake up and weigh yourself in the morning. First, drink what you think is a good amount of water (until your thirst is quenched and your pee is a light color) every day for one week. Every morning, weigh yourself right after you pee, then take the average of the three most similar numbers – that will be your baseline weight for when you are properly hydrated. From that point on, weigh yourself every morning and if you are a pound lighter, drink an extra 16 ounces of water that day. 

What you need to know

hydrate during a workout

Do not think you need to drink a gallon of water during a workout

Do not worry about finishing a massive bottle of water during your workout. When you exercise at a moderate intensity for less than an hour, you should only be drinking enough to satisfy your thirst. If you find yourself exercising an hour or more or if you are exercising in hot conditions, weigh yourself before and after you work out and drink an extra 16 ounces of water per pound lost. 

But, water can give your workout a leg up

Plain water will hydrate and power you during a typical work out so that you can make the most out of your routine. However, if you prefer the taste of coconut water, you can substitute it for water. It contains carbs, which can help your workout. If you are deficient in certain nutrients, you can also switch out water for vitamin-enhanced water.

Stick your water in the freezer

A British study found people who had a very cold drink before and during intense cycling sessions were able to keep going significantly longer than those who drank water at a warmer temperature. This may be because colder water keeps the core body temperatures lower. 

Drink water, lose weight

A recent study has found that drinking water before a meal helped dieters consume 90 calories less at each meal. Again, opt for colder water as you burn slightly more calories drinking it due to your body expending energy to heat it up.

Get ready for flawless skin

The hyaluronic acid in your skin absorbs some of the water you drink, giving you elasticity and vibrancy. However, do not think you need to drink an absurd amount of water to get this benefit, as once the hyaluronic acid has absorbed what it can, you pee the rest out. Check to see if you need more water by pinching the skin on one of your knuckles, if your skin does bounce back right away, drink more.

You do not need to give up the coffee

Cutting back on coffee is not the best way to stay hydrated as coffee is just a mild diuretic and does not lead to dehydration. You are even able to count coffee toward your total fluid intake. Eight ounces of coffee equals about four ounces of water. 

Foods that will hydrate you

It can be difficult to constantly be drinking water throughout the day. Here are a few foods you can up your H2O intake with. 

  • 1 cup raw broccoli florets = 2 oz.
  • 1 cup chicken noodle soup = 8 oz.
  • 10 medium baby carrots = 3 oz. 
  • 1 cup cooked sliced zucchini = 6 oz.
  • 1 small navel orange = 4 oz.
  • 1 medium apple = 6 oz.
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes = 5 oz.
  • 1 cup cantaloupe cubes = 5 oz.
  • 1 cup watermelon balls = 5 oz.