We probably don’t need to tell you how important it is to drink enough water every day. When you’re working up a sweat, proper hydration is even more crucial. But having a belly full of sloshing water during an intense workout is not very comfortable either. So how do you know whether you’re actually drinking enough water? And how much water should you drink before, during and after training?
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
Did you know that around 60% of the human body consists of water? When you fail to replenish the fluids that you lose, you are more susceptible to overheating. Your blood thickens. Your heart has to work harder in order to pump blood through your body. Muscle contractions become increasingly more difficult. You’re no longer able to efficiently absorb nutrients from food and supplements. Your body’s ability to filter and flush out toxins decreases. Your system will try to hold on to whatever fluids there are left, causing you to feel bloated and uncomfortable. And you get thirsty.
How much water should you drink before, during and after training?
A lot of people forget to drink enough water. It’s usually not until we start to feel thirsty that we think: “I should probably drink some water.” But if you don’t drink until you are thirsty, you’re actually too late. Ideally, you should drink enough during the day to prevent getting thirsty in the first place. When you’re training, you want to stay hydrated and at the save time prevent you’re drinking so much that it hinders your workout.
When empty, the human stomach is around the size of a fist. However, it can stretch to hold more than you might think. Unless you spend years stretching out your stomach by overeating, your stomach can hold around one to two litres of fluid. That doesn’t mean that you should go exercise with that much water in your stomach, but starting out dehydrated is not a good idea either. The American Council on Exercise recommends drinking around half a litre of water in the two hours before your workout. In the last 30 minutes before you start, add another 200 millilitres.
While you definitely need to prevent dehydration during training, drinking too much water in between will almost certainly have a negative effect on your performance. Nobody wants to do a martial arts class, run a couple of miles or lift heavy weights with a litre or two of water sloshing around! If you’re sweating heavily during a longer workout, however, you need to make sure you replenish the fluids and electrolytes that you’re losing. The best thing is to take small sips in between; around 200 millilitres per 20 minutes.
After training is when your body is most efficient in taking up fluids. How much you should drink, depends on how much you lost during your workout. If you’re not sure whether you’re drinking enough, you could try to weigh yourself before and after a workout. A good rule of thumb is to drink up to half a litre of water for every pound that you’ve lost afterwards.
If you’re having trouble staying hydrated (like so many of us), buy yourself a cute water bottle and get into the habit of bringing it everywhere with you – including the gym. When you’re properly hydrated, you’ll be able to get the most out of your workouts. And we can promise you that you’ll feel a lot better!
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