blog, lifestyle, news, nutrition

Hydratration 101

It’s almost July and that definitely means it’s summer! Longer days and more sun, holidays and travel, and … lots of heat and lots of sweating. These higher temperatures mean you lose water much more easily than in winter, even if all you’re doing is riding the U-Bahn to work in the morning - you’re probably arriving already a little sweaty. Add in a couple of times per week of training and that can mean a substantial water and electrolyte loss: it’s not uncommon to lose a couple kilos' worth of water if you’re training hard and long in these summer temperatures! 

There's more to sweating than water loss

Sweating is your body’s way of cooling you down; when you sweat, the evaporation of the liquid from your skin cools you down - but it comes at a cost. You are about 55-60% water - and even losing small amounts of that (0.5%) can result in serious consequences. But when you sweat, you’re not only losing water, you’re losing critical minerals that keep your body functioning properly. Everything from blood pressure to cognitive function to cardiac output is dependent on correct ratios of water to minerals. Fluid balance inside and outside of cells is closely tied to these minerals, referred to as electrolytes, and when you sweat, you lose both water and electrolytes; and this balance can be quickly thrown out of whack. That’s why it’s important, when, after you’ve lost significant water (through sweating, excretion, evaporation and potentially illness such as vomiting) to not only replace the fluid lost, but also the electrolytes.

The main electrolytes required in large amounts (and lost in the most significant amounts) are:
Sodium chloride (salt)
Potassium
Magnesium

Of these, sodium chloride is the biggest player - the one that is lost most readily and you should focus on replacing most.
Small changes in fluid levels have massive impacts! 

The consequences of dehydration when training and sweating begin early with seemingly minimal water losses. 
At 0.5% of body water losses, strain on the heart increases. 
At 1% loss, your aerobic performance decreases. 
At 3%, your muscle endurance goes down.
At 5%, your mental capacity is decreased and heat exhaustion begins. 
At 6%, heatstroke and coma are likely and 10% and greater loss of water can lead to death! 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec porta, mi ut facilisis ullamcorper, magna risus vehicula augue, eget faucibus magna massa at justo. Sed quis augue ut eros tincidunt hendrerit eu eget nisl. Duis malesuada vehicula massa... Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec porta, mi ut facilisis ullamcorper, magna risus vehicula augue, eget faucibus magna massa at justo. Sed quis augue ut eros tincidunt hendrerit eu eget nisl.

But I don't feel thirsty... How do I know if I'm dehydrated or lacking electrolytes?

Unfortunately, if you’re feeling thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated! Thirst sets in around 1-2% water loss, when you might notice: 
* performance drops 
* headache 
* fatigue 
* dizziness 
* nausea 
- and interestingly, symptoms of hyponatremia (not enough water relative to sodium) are very similar to that of dehydration. 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec porta, mi ut facilisis ullamcorper, magna risus vehicula augue, eget faucibus magna massa at justo. Sed quis augue ut eros tincidunt hendrerit eu eget nisl. Duis malesuada vehicula massa... Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec porta, mi ut facilisis ullamcorper, magna risus vehicula augue, eget faucibus magna massa at justo. Sed quis augue ut eros tincidunt hendrerit eu eget nisl.


How to ensure proper electrolyte balance and maintain hydration

Now that you know how important water and electrolyte balance are, here are some guidelines to follow to make sure you’re functioning and performing at your best! 

The general guideline is if you're exercising for less than an hour intensely - like a CrossFit class - (or less than 90 minutes of moderate activity), salting your food and following the broad daily drinking habits outlined below. However, if you're 
* Excessively sweating 
* Training intensely for more than an hour 
* Training moderately for more than 90 minutes 
... then it's necessary to make sure to concisely replace electrolytes as well as water. 

* Make sure to pay attention to how much you’re drinking daily. Set timers on your phone every hour to remind you to drink a glass regularly throughout the day. Mindfulness is the first piece in any nutrition puzzle, and hydration is no different.
 
* Ensure that you’re acquiring enough sodium. If you’re craving salt, that’s often your body trying to genuinely communicate with you: “I need salt!” Don’t be afraid to generously season all of your meals with salt. SALT IS NOT BAD!  Another option for especially endurance athletes or workouts longer than one hour is to take an electrolyte or a salt tablet in addition to sodium consumed during meals. 

* Another great way to replenish electrolytes is eating pickles. This may sound strange, but pickles (with no added sugar or E's or additives) are not only a great sodium source, but also provide potassium, iron, manganese, and calcium to restore your body's mineral balance! So don't be afraid to add some pickles to your post workout meal 🙂 

* Your urine is a great way to judge hydration - if it’s pale yellow, you’re adequately hydrated. If it’s a more concentrated colour, that’s a sign you need to drink more. If it is clear as water you are over-hydrating and don't have enough salt in your body.

* When training, aim to sip throughout, NOT chug at the end, and be careful about over-hydrating with water without also adding some sodium. 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec porta, mi ut facilisis ullamcorper, magna risus vehicula augue, eget faucibus magna massa at justo. Sed quis augue ut eros tincidunt hendrerit eu eget nisl. Duis malesuada vehicula massa... Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec porta, mi ut facilisis ullamcorper, magna risus vehicula augue, eget faucibus magna massa at justo. Sed quis augue ut eros tincidunt hendrerit eu eget nisl.


General daily drinking habits for optimal hydration 
  
* A baseline for a temperate environment with no strenuous activity is about 2L a day. 
* On training days:
    * Consume 0.5-1L of water during high intensity training less than 1 hour (moderate activity under 2 hours) 
    * Consume 0.5-1L of water after the workout. 
    * Consume additional baseline 2L of water throughout the day. 
    * Add adequate sodium to your meals pre and post workout. This varies tremendously from person to person on the mg of sodium required, but generally for a 

1 hour high intensity training session in moderate temperatures, 1000mg of salt is excreted.

So remember to stay hydrated and enjoy the summer weather