Its a hot, sticky, summers day in July. The Griphouse is an inferno of burpee’s, punches and kicks. The amalgamation of body heat, exercise and bad intention is driving the sweaty bodies to boiling point. You feel like screaming, crying out ” Stop this madness, for the love of God…STOP! “, your internal monologue is racing “Why am I here… I should leave…go home… Go to the pub…”. But you focus, get your mind back in the room, back on the job at hand as the sweat is stinging your eyes and pouring down your body. The buzzer goes, your thumping heart knows it’s time for a water break, you’ve earned it. The searching eyes assess the room for that ice cold bottle. You roll your eyes exaggeratedly, doh… as you remember you forgot to bring water, infact you never bring water as you don’t really like the stuff. Besides its only water and you’d much prefer to drink cola, beer or coffee, anything but water.
So what’s so great about water?
WATER is the essence of life. A few days without it and you’ll be picking turnips with a step ladder. We lose water through respiration, sweating, urinary and fecal output. As if this wasn’t bad enough, exercise speeds up this rate of water loss. An intense exercise session like Fight Camp can be quiet stressful on your body especially in the heat. This can lead to cramping, dizziness and in extreme cases death if fluid intake isn’t adequate [though I suspect some of you who participate @fightcamp probably think we are trying to kill you at times] So this makes fluid intake an important priority for both exercisers and non exercises alike.
Water makes up nearly 60% of bodyweight. A 90kg man carries about 55kg of water. A 46kg woman carries about 27kg of water. The amount of water we carry is based on the amount of body fat and muscle mass we carry. The water in our body has many important jobs. It acts as a solvent, as a transporter, as a catalyst, as a lubricant, as a temperature regulator and as a mineral source.
How much water should I aim to drink?
As well as getting water from the beverages we drink, on average, humans get about 1L of water from the food we eat depending on our food selections of course. Fruits and vegetables in their raw form have the highest percentage of water. Foods higher in fat typically have a very low water content. (E.g. nuts, seeds, oils and butter). In addition to food intake a large percentage of our daily fluid intake comes from the beverages we drink. Several factors can affect how much we drink, including climate, physical demands, how much we’ve sweated and overall body size.
We get thirstier when it’s warmer, or when we have been sweating a lot. Although thirst is sometimes a poor indicator of hydration status for those involved with intensive exercise, as it isn’t perceived until 1-2% of body weight is lost. At this stage, exercise decreases will already have occurred and mental focus and clarity may drop off. Additional losses can lead to illness and death. According to most of the literature, a safe general recommendation for daily fluid intake is about 3L of fluid each day with about 1L coming from food.
What happens when we don’t drink enough?
The two most common body water imbalances are dehydration( too little water relative to other salutes) and hyponatremia (too much water relative to sodium concentrations). Some notable examples of hyponatremia are several people who died from drinking too much water after taking the drug ecstasy, which effects thirst, body fluid balance and sodium balance so it’s kinda like drowning except you aren’t submersed in water.
How does the body regulate water intake?
Body water and electrolyte levels are regulated by the balance between water intake and water excretion through the kidneys. Both thirst and kidney excretion are, in turn influenced by pituitary hormones which help signal thirst when body water volume is low and signal urinary excretion when body water volume is high. In addition to this, certain macronutrient and mineral intake can effect fluid balance.
Macronutrient – Carbohydrate storage increases water storage in the body: for every gram of stored water, 3-4 grams of water is also stored. Thus higher carbohydrate diets can lead to increased fluid storage while lower carbohydrate diets can lead to decreased fluid storage. Switching to a high protein, low-carbohydrate diet triggers very rapid water weight loss, in the short term, from decreased stored carbohydrate and increased unrinary urea production.
Electrolytes – minerals such as sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and magnesium carry an electric charge (positive or negative) when dissolved in water enables fluid to pass through cellular membranes. These minerals can effect fluid balance and are extremely important in the body to maintain proper electrolyte balance which is critical for normal physiological function. Electrolytes can be lost as water is lost in urine or sweat.
What should I drink before exercise?
Many people think of replacing lost water only after they have begun sweating heavily, or after completing their workout. However, it is important to begin the process before water is lost. You should consume about 500ml of fluid about 30 minutes before exercise.
Fluid and electrolyte replacement is the goal during exercise. This prevents excessive dehydration and electrolyte changes that might decrease performance. You should aim to consume approximately 250ml every 15 minutes during exercise (depending on body size, ambient temperature, workout intensity). Research suggest that a diluted carbohydrate drink that also contains electrolytes is an ideal form of fluid replacement.
Fluid intake is required to assist in recovery. If you don’t sufficiently replace fluid, the sodium and carbohydrate losses that occur during exercise will prevent you from returned to a hydrated state which will in turn delay recovery. most commercial sports drinks contain electrolytes as well as carbohydrates but sometimes this isn’t the case so an additional 1/2 -1 tsp of sodium can be added to ensure adequate replacement.