When clients complain of feeling drained and lethargic, or seem unable to perform effectively during training I ask “How much water have you had today?” Usually the answer is “Not enough.”
On average, 60-65% of our body weight is water. Every part of us – our muscles and organs, our digestive tract, even temperature regulation – depends on water to function properly. The bottom line is we all need water to not only survive, but function at our peak.
If you are unsure if you’re well hydrated, see if you can identify any of these signs and symptoms of dehydration in yourself.
Thirst - This may be the most common symptom, but we often ignore our thirst. If you are thirsty you have already lost one percent of your body’s water.
Headache - While dehydration is not the only cause of headaches, it is a common cause. A dull aching headache towards the afternoon is often one of the first signs of dehydration.
Lack of Focus – The brain is made up primarily of water, so staying hydrated helps it function at its peak. If you begin to feel fuzzy headed or can’t concentrate, you may be dehydrated.
Dry Skin and Chapped Lips - Water helps replenish skin tissue, increases elasticity in your skin, and keeps you moisturized. Dehydration isn’t the only cause of dry skin, but staying hydrated will aid in keeping your skin looking healthy.
Hunger and Sugar Cravings - Thirst often disguises itself as hunger, so when we are dehydrated we often reach for carbohydrate-rich snacks. This can lead to excess calorie consumption. The next time you reach for a snack, think back to the last time you had a glass of water.
Fatigue - When our bodies are dehydrated, our systems need to work harder to rid themselves of waste, and when our systems are exhausted, so are we. General fatigue and sluggishness are early symptoms of dehydration.
My big give away when I am dehydrated is the lack of focus and dull headache. I therefore try to have a bottle of water with me at all times. To avoid dehydration I suggest trying some of these ways to keep your body topped up on fluids:
- Buy a reusable water bottle and refill it frequently throughout the day. Keep it where you can see it so you are reminded to drink.
- Try plain sparkling water as a fun, fizzy alternative if you think water is boring and tasteless.
- Add fresh fruit to your water to add a little flavour. Try lemons, limes, or fresh berries.
- Drink herbal, non-caffeinated teas to keep your fluids up in the colder months. Keep a pot of herbal tea beside your desk at work, and chug through it during the day.
- Set reminders on your computer or mobile phone to go off throughout the day in order to remind you to work toward your water goal.
- Eat water-rich vegetables and fruit. Not all water has to come from liquid.
How do you stay hydrated? I’d love to hear from you!