For the past three columns I discussed and illustrated some of the staples in my breakfast, lunch and dinner meal stacks and their numerous benefits.
I also noted that eating healthy does not have to induce a sigh in anticipation of a tasteless meal and you don’t have to be a world-class chef to make your taste buds throw a wild party in celebration.
But what about hydration?
Water is a calorie-free fluid that is essential for life. You can live quite a long time without food (depending on the size of your body fat stores) but only a few days without water. Water makes up around 70 per cent of your total liquid mass and, to stop you getting dangerously dehydrated, your body uses thirst to tell you when to drink!
However, in many people, the thirst mechanism doesn’t work like it should. I am one of those persons and I am guilty of preferring a Malta or orange juice over water (face palm). Some of us have been dehydrated for so long that we ignore thirst or, in many cases, confuse thirst with hunger.
Some people who experience thirst reach for a soda (sweet drink/soft drink in Guyanese parlance), fruit juice, juice drinks, tea or coffee which can often compound the problem of dehydration. It’s water that your body needs and not ‘liquid candy’ which is what as soft drinks really are.
We all know that water is much more than just a thirst quencher.
Let’s go beneath the surface.
– acts as a suspension medium for all the chemicals in your body. No water? No way to circulate oxygen carrying red blood cells, infection fighting white blood cells, or clotting platelets.
– acts as a lubricant. Your joints, skin, eyes and digestive system function smoothly because of the presence of water. Like a car with no oil, your body would soon cease to function smoothly without water.
– detoxifies your organs. Have you ever noticed how smelly and dark your urine is when you are dehydrated? That’s the increased concentration of toxins you can smell.
– acts as temperature control. You can lose a lot of water through sweating and vigorous exhalations.
So how much water do you really need?
Opinions vary but the consensus suggests that you need around two litres of water per day plus a further half a litre per 30 minutes of exercise. Drinking more is not likely to cause you any harm as excess will be eliminated.
Tea, coffee and juices as well as fruit and vegetables all contribute to your fluid intake as well, but as it’s hard to estimate just how much water these sources provide, you should simply shoot for two litres of water per day as a minimum. If you are getting thirsty, your body is telling you that you need to take some more water on board.
Sports drinks are designed to rehydrate you and also provide you with energy in the form of carbohydrates. Different sports drinks contain different amounts of carbohydrates and contents vary from 2 to 10 grammes plus per 100 millilitres. Sports drinks are great for gruelling matches or lengthy workouts but are merely a source of unwanted calories for most general exercisers who are trying to get lean.
Some ‘light’ sports drinks contain no carbohydrates, but still have artificial sweeteners, flavours and colours. These chemicals are often linked to health problems like ADD, anxiety, and hyper-activity, and are generally best avoided. If you find you are running low on energy during a workout of 60 minutes or less, the fault lies with your diet and not your choice of sports drink.
Water might not be the most exciting beverage but it is definitely the most important. Keep track of your water intake to ensure you are drinking enough.
Note: If your water intake is currently very low, don’t suddenly increase it to two litres per day overnight – unless you like running to the toilet every half hour. Instead, drink an extra glass of water per day and up your intake gradually to avoid shocking your bladder too much.
Stay tuned, friends.
If you need help on building muscle or losing body fat, shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org