Water, like oxygen, is essential for life. You can only survive 3-5 days without water! Besides helping to maintain life, water performs several other important roles throughout the human body, including:
Transporting glucose and oxygen into your muscles.
Serving as a critical component of your brain, blood, muscles, and bones.
Aiding digestion of food, helping to convert it to energy you can use.
Removing metabolic by-products like carbon dioxide from your hard-working muscles.
Regulating body temperature, especially during your workouts when your muscles generate 20 times more heat energy than a body at rest.
Even with all of its benefits, drinking water and staying hydrated is one of the most overlooked components in fitness. In fact, it's been reported that more than 40% of regular gym-goers are at least partially dehydrated during their workouts.
The bottom line is that dehydration can have a significant effect on performance. Anyone, from runners to lifters, can become dehydrated if fluid loss is greater than fluid intake. It's as simple as that. And dehydration can lead to reduced performance, headaches, fatigue, and muscle cramps.
Dehydration can also cost you muscle, since it can negatively impact muscular growth and recovery. Limiting fluid intake has been shown to reduce power output, increase rates of fatigue, and increase the risk for injuries.
How Much Fluid Do You Need?
Just drink eight cups of water a day and you should be fine, right? Not necessarily. The well-known recommendation is a bit outdated and doesn't take into consideration factors that can increase fluid intake.
Generally speaking, women require about 90 ounces (11 cups) per day, while men should be getting around 125 ounces (16 cups) per day.
What's The Easiest Way To Prevent Dehydration?
It sounds totally obvious, but start by drinking fluids when you're thirsty. Thirst may not be the most reliable indication of hydration status, but it's a start. The color of your urine also offers insights into your hydration status.
If the urine in your toilet bowl is light to clear, you're probably all right. If it's the color of apple juice, it's time to make a trip to the water cooler and increase your daily fluid intake.
Staying hydrated doesn't have to be complicated. Stick to the simple guidelines outlined above to experience optimal performance in the gym.