We all know that we need water to function, but what are the benefits of drinking water, how much do we really need, and how can we make sure we get what we need each day?
The European Food Safety Authority recommend 2 litres per day for women and 2.5 litres per day for men. This is a good place to start, but there are other factors to consider too, such as:
- How active you are: a very active person will need to take in more fluids to replace what is lost during exercise and daily activities.
- Genetics: some people naturally sweat more.
- Body size and weight: the heavier you are, the more you are likely to sweat.
- Outside temperature: we sweat more in hotter, humid conditions and in very cold conditions we urinate more resulting in lost fluids.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding: as well as the increase in weight, more water is needed to assist in removing waste, avoid UTI’s and to replace fluids lost when feeding.
- Illness: particularly when suffering a fever, your body sweats more as it tries to reduce body temperature.
So how do we know if we are getting enough with all of these variables? The best judge of this, is your own body. Here are 5 signs you are dehydrated:
- You feel thirsty……obvious I know, but even when thirsty we don’t always have access to water and may remain thirsty or drink less beneficial fluids like fizzy drinks or juices to quench that thirst.
- Dark coloured urine…….a well hydrated person will have very pale urine. Before using this as your guide, be aware that some vitamins and medication can cause darker urine too.
- Dry skin and lips…….another obvious one, but a clear sign you need to drink more.
- Lack of concentration……when dehydrated feelings of fatigue take over faster causing slower response times, resulting lack of focus and concentration.
- Bad breath…….bad breath and a dry tongue is a sure sign you need to drink more.
When exercising the American College of Sports Medicine recommend drinking 400-600ml of water two hours before exercise, 170-340ml every 15-20 minutes during exercise and 1 litre per kg of weight loss afterwards. This can be a little confusing so I like to keep it simple by listening to my body and drinking half a litre before, sip as I need during exercise and 1 litre afterwards. Pregnant women should be drinking an additional 300ml per day and when breastfeeding an additional 700ml per day.
One question my clients often ask is ‘can water help weight loss?’. The answer to this is yes, depending on your fluid intake before. If you weren’t drinking enough before then you are more likely to lose weight by increasing your water intake, not only as your body will work more efficiently at removing waste, but when exercising you will perform better, in turn burning more calories. According to NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), dehydration can decrease performance as follows:
- Strength by 2%
- Power by 3%
- High Intensity endurance by 10%
So the bottom line is to listen to your body, and I bet most of us will find our bodies are telling us to drink more. Here are my top tips to drinking more water each day:
- Keep it handy: whether you keep a bottle in your bag or on your desk at work make sure it is visible and to hand for you to sip throughout the day.
- Prepare infused waters: there are some great water infusion bottles available to buy, but I find keeping a jug of water with fruits and herbs such as lemon, mint and ginger in my fridge helps tempt me to drink more.
- Drink before food: before sitting down to a meal, drink a glass of water beforehand. Not only does our mind confuse hunger with thirst at times, the water help you feel more satisfied with your portions.
- Drink teas: being careful not to drink too much caffeine, drinking herbal teas can help flush out toxins and increase that fluid intake.
- Eat water based foods: cucumbers, watermelons and other water based foods are very refreshing and hydrating at the same time.
Happy drinking people, I’ve just finished my second litre today, so I’m off to perform 10% better as I do my HIIT workout!!!!