You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

By Neil Kitzmiller, ACE Certified Personal Trainer

Everybody has a list of things they think they should to be doing when going through a training program. The most popular tend to be something like exercising three to four days per week, eating less/more food, and becoming more active. All of those are great and can lead to significant changes in body composition, if done correctly and consistently. The realization that many come to is that there is something else that matters just as much but most take for granted. Plain and simple, we’re not drinking enough water.

Water plays many roles in the body, but for the sake of this article, we are going to focus on two of them: (1) the role of water during a workout and (2) the role of water post-workout. As you exercise, you body will raise your heart rate to get your muscles the blood and oxygen needed for them to contract. If your body is low in water supply, this flow of blood can become less efficient, leaving you with weaker muscular contractions, cramps, and slower muscle growth. The more water you have flowing in your system, the more efficient this process becomes during your workouts, and the better the benefits will be.

Besides replenishing your body with key nutrients and sodium after your workouts, drinking water will help to aid in muscle repair. According to a study by the Journal of Athletic Training, “dehydration can increase the severity of delayed onset muscle soreness” (Thompson).  If you are unfamiliar with the term “delayed onset muscle soreness”, or DOMS, it is the sensation you get a day or two after your workout when the muscles you used get sore. While having delayed onset muscle soreness is not a bad thing, it can often stop people from wanting to continue with an exercise regimen. This could derail all potential progress or hinder performance in the gym for a few days.

Consuming water post workout is just as important. When you are participating in some sort of exercise, your body will naturally produce sweat as a tool to help keep you cool. In that sweat, you have water mixed with sodium and electrolytes that are escaping from your body. The American Council on Exercise recommends that you weigh yourself before and after exercise to determine if there is a difference. If there is one, you should drink that much water post workout to ensure that you are adequately hydrated. As we discussed earlier, consumption of water can aid in the recovery process and allows for more efficient transportation of nutrients to the body, resulting in faster and more favorable results.

As a general rule, we should aim to drink half our body weight in fluid ounces of water per day. This means a 200 lb man would aim to consume 100 fl oz of water, everyday. However, this rule always seems to get distilled and messed up. The rule is based on pure water consumption, and that is it. If you’re a coffee drinker, that doesn’t count. Not to mention, coffee is a natural diuretic, so you are actually dehydrating yourself drinking coffee. This means you will need even more water you need to drink during the day now. Adding flavored powders or other liquids to the water you’re drinking doesn’t count either; the goal is plain water.

The reasons why people are struggling to reach their goals can be countless and different for every individual. From eating the right number of calories to how much REM sleep you get to how your body deals with stress, it can become overwhelming and a lot to track. Do not let something as simple as water consumption be what holds you back when the fix is right in front of you.

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Cliff Long