Water is just as flip-floppy as chocolate when it comes to the conflicting information we’re being fed. So to clear up a few things, we’ve got some hydration rules you must follow. And to make sure you’re on the track to drinking enough water, we’re going to correct a few mistakes you might be making.
- According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, you’re not drinking enough water if you are: thirsty, urinating less often than normal, your urine is dark, and you have dry skin. But there are some other not-so-recognizable signs of dehydration, such as feeling tired, having dizziness, or fainting.
- Don’t go overboard with drinking water if you're dehydrated. Drink small amounts of water at a time, because if you have too much, it can make you sick.
- If you’re exercising, a good rule of thumb is a cup of water for every half hour of exercise to replace fluids lost through sweat. And if you’re working out really hard, such as with endurance or high intensity exercise, consider a sports drink to replace the minerals. Dilute with water if you’re concerned about the sugar, and drink half as much.
- Caffeine is okay as a treat or a pick-me-up, but don’t use it as a pre-workout stimulant. Since it’s diuretic, it can make you dehydrated.
Now, on to the mistakes.
Mistake #1: You’re Not Cooling Down Enough During Your Water Breaks
With the HIIT and tabata trends at an all time high in popularity, water breaks are getting shorter and shorter. And sure, you can sneak in a quick sip here and there between sets, but are you really doing your body any good? According to a study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, athletes need to be concerned about the body storing heat, whether it’s from exercise, the environment or both. Why? Because it impacts physical performance and causes physiological strain on the body. The researchers recommend that if you’re training outside, you rest in the shade as you rehydrate.
Mistake #2: You Take in Sodium to Prevent Overhydration
There’s the belief that you need to drink a ton of water to stay hydrated, but that sodium pills will avoid overhydration, which can be deadly. A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition Exercise Metabolism cited an instance where a runner balanced out a long run (17-hour, 72-km run and hike) with water and sodium tablets but ended up in the hospital with symptomatic exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH). The researchers admit that gauging hydrating is difficult, but that believing a sodium supplement will safe-guard you is just as dangerous. Stick with the above rules to stay hydrated properly.
Mistake #3: Not Heading to the Bar with Your Teammates
Life gets busy, and you may not always have the time to head to your bar sponsor with your team after a game. Not only is it a great opportunity to bond and rehash all the plays, but research shows that beer is just as hydrating as water. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, assessed the body composition, hematological and serum parameters, fluid balance and urine excretion before, after exercise and after rehydration with either mineral water or beer (not a bad gig as a study subject). There was no difference between the markers of the two groups. But that’s not to say you should get drunk. Researchers only recommended up to 660 mL (that’s just two bottles of beer) and no more.
Mistake #4: Having Coffee to Feel Like Yourself Again
Sometimes when we’re down in the dumps, we think of foods like pasta or drinks like coffee as ways to perk up. But new research linked not drinking enough water to a bad mood. The study followed the fluid intake, caffeine consumption and diet, along with feelings of tension, depression, anger, vigor and confusion. So the next time you feel out of sorts and go to grab a coffee, consider water instead.
Mistake #5: Thinking Sport Gels are Hydrating
Sports nutrition is just as gimmicky as technology. You’ve got drinks, gels and gummies. But when you’re doing endurance running, the last thing you want is to be carrying a picnic basket-size bag of supplements and bottles of water. But if you’re thinking a gel could take the place of good ol’ water, think again. A study from the University of Aberdeen, found that you’ll need to hydrate along with popping an energy gel. If not, you’ll end up with gastrointestinal issues. The researchers looked at 35 brands of gels (who knew there were so many!), in terms of serving size, energy density, calories, carb content and sugars. In order to get the benefit of the gel, the body needs to be adequately hydrated (not necessarily taken) at the same time.