By Dr. Les Dutko, Ed.D., LAT, ATC
We are people of water, as we are composted of approximately 60% water, in which every tissue and organ in our body requires the use of water. Without this precious element we become sick and eventually die. Staying hydrated (SH) aids the blood to be pumped more efficiently to the muscles and throughout the body. This means more blood is pumped per heart beat or stroke (increase stroke volume).
SH means much more than drinking water. Fruits and vegetables are excellent source of water, for example watermelon is composed of approximately 90% water. Even tea, coffee, and diet sodas add up the water, even though these are diuretics they still well-up more water than they release from the body. Alcohol is the culprit of the group; you must drink a 1:1 ratio of water to alcohol in order to replace what you lose. Example, if you drink 12 oz. of beer you must drink 12 oz. of water in order to SH.
How much you should drink depends on several factors, such as, the weather, humidity and the type of clothes you are wearing. High humidity is a major dehydrator, as we sweat proportionally to humidity to keep our core body temperature at equilibrium, thus we must consume more water in any form. Also the amount of water we must consume depends if you are taking any medications which requires you to increase your hydration. In addition, the amount you hydrate depends if you have certain illnesses such as diabetes which you should consume more fluids.
The best and most simple was to make certain you are SH is to check you urine, if it is clear in color than you have been SH. However, if you urine is dark yellow, than you are dehydrated, so you always desire your urine color to be lighter in color and the golden rule is a clear no color.
SH during athletic or fitness workouts means to drink, before, during, and after the activity. Water is the best fluid in order to SH. If you drink sports drinks you should be knowledgeable about the number of calories and percentage of sugar it contains. Drinks which contain greater than 8% sugar will dehydrate you since sugar demands or ties-up water.