Thursday, November 3, 2011

Get in the H2 kn(0)w

Water is the most abundant element on the planet, it covers about 70% of the earth's surface.  Water has the very strange property of expanding when frozen, this is a property unique almost only to water (this is the reason ice floats in water).  Every single known life form on the planet is dependent upon water for life and the human body is composed of between 55% and 75% water (on average 60%).  I just wanted to start this post by mentioning just a few of the very interesting facts about water before I get into why it is such an important part of optimal health.

Water is needed for almost every single function the body performs, everything from digestion all the way to moving the finger on your left hand.  Water is required for proper contraction and relaxation of the muscle cells and this explains why when you are dehydrated you can often have severe cramping, weakened muscles or both.  A loss of 1% of body weight in water can cause light malaise.  3-5% Loss of body weight in water can cause: severe thirst, cramping, fatigue, headache, dizziness, and muscle weakness.  A loss of 10% or more of body weight in water is generally considered clinical dehydration and will often cause collapse and muscle failure, along with confusion and severe fatigue.  Its amazing that often as little as 2% loss of body weight in water can negatively affect athletic performance; a 150 lb man who sweats out 3lbs of water in a BJJ class is already in this range.  How many times per week do you walk out of class with a gi completely saturated with sweat?  FYI 3 lbs of water would equate to roughly 3 pints/6 glasses/48 oz not much for an intense workout.

30 minutes before a workout everyone should drink at least 16oz of water.  The reason that drinking water during or immediately after exercise is not optimal has to do with a condition called water intoxication.  Water it is less concentrated than the fluid in our cells; in order for our body to maintain equilibrium it pulls small amounts of electrolytes into the water to create a balance (this is called osmosis, the process of substances flowing from an area of greater concentration to areas of lower concentration).  If you take a person who is sweating intensely, they are already losing water and electrolytes through their sweat.  If that same person drinks water during a workout that water pulls additional electrolytes out of the body; this can result in a higher concentration of water than electrolytes.  Water intoxication can cause severe side affects including: severe cramping, vomiting, loss of consciousness, irregular heart beat, and even death, this is not to say if you drink water during a workout you will die, death will usually only occur in extreme cases.  The main electrolyte lost responsible for water intoxication is sodium; this problem can easily be remedied by adding a small amount of salt to your exercise water, drinking a sports drink, or drinking a juice during exercise like coconut water.

The best course of action is to drink a minimum of 16oz of water before a workout, then to drink either a sports drink or electrolyte replacement drink (like my favorite coconut water) during and after the workout.  You should also drink 8oz of water with each meal (as it aids with digestion), 16oz immediately after waking up in the morning ( to flush your kidneys and start metabolism), and 8oz before bed.  I personally try to drink at least 1 gallon or 128oz of water each day, along with 16 oz of coconut water, and 16oz of organic milk.  Do not count juices, sport drinks, cola, tea, milk, or coffee towards your water requirements as some of these can actually dehydrate you more severely and there is no substitute for water!  As I stated before try to drink a minimum of 0.5 oz of water per pound of body weight.  Example: 150lb man would need to drink at least 75oz of water per day along with an additional 16oz before each workout.  This will ensure that you have at least the minimum amount of water needed for proper hydration and body function.  Some of the benefits of drinking extra water include:  healthy kidneys, detoxification, increased metabolism and fat loss, aided digestion, lubricated joints, softer stool, healthier skin, and liver health.

To summarize:
A minimum of 0.5oz of water per pound of body weight per day.  An additional 16oz of water 30 minutes before each session of exercise.  A sports drink or oral re-hydration mixture during exercise.  At least 16oz of water first thing upon waking in the morning and 8oz of water before going to sleep for the night.

If you will follow these guidelines I am confident you will be feeling better, have more energy, have better endurance during your workouts, and maybe even lose some extra weight.  Please feel free to comment with any questions below, and if you still haven't subscribed for email updates, RSS feed, or added me on facebook, then now is the perfect time to do so!


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