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…for everyone, but no one more so than an athlete.

By, Carolyn Fetters; CEO and Founder of Balanced Habits™ Nutrition & Wellness

How can you tell if you’re properly hydrated?

Do you employ the standard suggestion to “drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day” in order to stay hydrated?

Staying hydrated is automatic for most of us. That’s because our thirst mechanism stimulates thirst and drives us to drink when our bodies need more water. This mechanism decreases with age, making dehydration more likely in older people. Extra activities, as well as summer heat increase our need for fluids.

So how do you know if you are properly hydrated? Some of the ways to assess hydration include changes in body weight, recording fluid intake and output, and appearance of the skin, eyes and lips.

Daily Water Intake

You may have heard the daily goal for water intake is 64 ounces or 2 liters. And that’s about right. It’s slightly laborious but you could try this formula to estimate your own water needs: Divide your body weight in pounds in half to get the number of ounces/day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds your estimated water goal is 75 ounces a day. Another method based on body weight is 30 to 35 mL of water per kg body weight. For a person weighing 68 kg the water goal is 2040 to 2380 mL per day. Yet a third method is to include 1 mL of fluid for each calorie consumed. So if you eat 2,000 calories a day your fluid goal is 2 liters or 67 ounces.

Certain conditions, such as heat, increased activity, fever, injury and illness increase the amount of water your body losses, and increasing fluid needs. If you are increasing your activity level most likely you are also reaching for a water bottle before, during and after a workout. This helps replace fluid lost due to faster breathing and sweat.

The above-mentioned “systems” do not always consider such important aspects such as athletic status, environmental circumstances, or other such variances. Many trainers tell their client’s to drink 1 oz. of clear liquid for every pound the person weighs. Sounds slightly excessive and not necessarily something the average person is willing to do.IE: Under this guideline, an inactive 200 lb. female is told to drink 200 ounces of water per day. The same advice would be given to a male competitive athlete weighing 200 lbs. Sound advice??

It is well documented that proper hydration levels are important, if not more important, than proper nutrition for everyone, but no one more so than an athlete.

Let’s uncover what being properly hydrated provides for the body

  • Kick starts your metabolism
  • Acts as a solvent in which many of the body’s nutrients, such as vitamins B and C, dissolve to become bio-available
  • Plays a dual role in metabolism: with the help of enzymes, it breaks down food to generate molecules of nutrients such as starches, triglycerides and protein, for easy digestion
  • Breaks down bonds to create smaller molecules of glucose, fatty acids and amino acids
  • Keeps your energy engine firing.  If your body can’t get enough fluid from tissue, your cells draw it from your bloodstream.  Blood then thickens, putting a strain on your heart, which may make you feel weak, groggy or light-headed
  • Aids in digestion: When food passes through the intestines, the nutrients get absorbed leaving the waste behind (the bulk of which is soluble fiber).  Water binds with soluble fiber in the digestive system and forms soft stool, which is excreted by the body more easily. This works as a first aid for constipation
  • Neutralizes acids in the stomach, keeping them from corroding the stomach lining
  • Water makes up 60% of our body weight, representing a huge principal chemical component
  • Cools the body, maintains muscle tone, skin tone and provide a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues
  • Flushes out waste products by dissolving excess salt and urea in the kidneys to pass out as urine
  • Body enzymes get activated in the presence of water

With Part 2 we will provide you a valuable Hydration Chart so you have a great visual goal to shoot for.

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