A large component of our brain is water. Therefore, staying hydrated is crucial for keeping us focused, alert and energised. Dehydration, on the other hand, can lead to reductions in memory and cognitive performance, as well as headaches and low mood.
Dehydration is also often confused with hunger. Therefore, staying hydrated helps reduce cravings and overeating. Meanwhile, it keeps nutrients moving through the body, aids digestion and enables us to more effectively flush waste products out of our system; for example, through sweat and urine.
Finally, staying hydrated can improve the appearance of our skin and give us a youthful glow, as well as help keep joints lubricated and muscles more elastic. Get ready to crush your personal best at the gym!
Rundown on requirements
We’ll drink to these benefits any day, but how much fluid do we need to consume? Fluid requirements depend on a variety of factors, including our age, gender and weight. Generally, as recommended by the NHS we should aim to drink 1ml of fluid for every calorie we burn per day. Therefore, an average woman consuming 2000 calories daily should aim to drink 2 litres (2000ml) of fluid.
However, fluid requirements increase in warm climates and when exercising. One of the ways to have a reference on the amount of water you may need to replace after a workout, is by not drinking anything during the workout and weigh yourself before and after; any decrease in weight is likely to be water loss. For every gram lost, replace with 1ml of fluid. For example, a 500g difference in weight before vs after the gym may indicate you should drink half a litre (500ml) to rehydrate and support your body’s general recovery.
Remember, all fluids contribute towards meeting these requirements. Therefore, whilst plain water is ideal, beverages such as tea, smoothies and protein shakes all count. However, be mindful of relying too heavily on these sources as, unlike water, they can add a significant number of calories to your day.
Tips to top up
Even when we know we should be drinking up, staying hydrated is sometimes easier said than done. We forget, we don’t know what to choose, or just don’t like the taste of plain water. Use the following tips to help combat these barriers;
- Set a timer on your phone to remind you. There are also tons of Apps out there that do the same job.
- Always carry a reusable
- Eat plenty of foods with a high water content; melon, cucumber and berries are great options.
- Limit your intake of caffeinated beverages including energy drinks and coffee; caffeine can act as a natural diuretic and could hinder our hydration.
- Add lemon and/or lime to plain water to mask the taste. Alternatively, try drinking herbal tea.
Staying hydrated is a simple but often overlooked nutritional need. How much to aim for changes daily with climate, eating and exercise patterns, and everyone has different needs. However, there are easy tricks we can all implement to make sure we get enough to keep our bodies functioning optimally.