Water plays a huge role in our well being as humans, and has a major factor in performance enhancement, skin health, gastrointestinal motility, and promoting a healthy weight. Water is a key component to any fueling plan, and an easy variable to change for most! I have witnessed firsthand the transformative impact that proper hydration can have on individuals. 

The Role of Water in the Body:

First, let’s understand why water is so vital. Our bodies are approximately 60% water, and this fluid is involved in almost everything your body does! From regulating body temperature to helping with digestion, transporting nutrients, and supporting joint lubrication, water is the unsung hero that keeps everything running smoothly. 

The Importance of Hydration:

  • Performance Enhancement: For athletes aiming for performance, and those with an active lifestyle, hydration is non-negotiable. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, impaired endurance,  reduced coordination, and poor decision making. It’s also one of the easiest factors to optimize to prevent a decline in your performance!
  • Digestive Health: Water is a crucial component in the digestive process. It helps break down food, facilitates nutrient absorption, and prevents constipation, and promotes a healthy gut!  
  • Cognitive Function: Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining optimal day to day functions. Even mild dehydration has been shown to impact concentration, alertness, short-term memory, and mood!

Determining Your Water Needs:

A question I get a LOT in my practice is; “How much water should I drink?”. It’s important to know that water is not the only source, we actually get fluid from soups, smoothies, fruits, vegetables, teas, seltzer and other liquids.  While the “8×8 rule” (eight 8-ounce glasses per day) is a simple guideline, individual hydration needs vary GREATLY based on factors such as age, body weight, physical activity level, climate, and overall health.

As a general recommendation, the National Academy of Medicine suggests 13 cups (104 oz) for men, and 9 cups (70 oz) for women. This is only an average, but a fine place to start for someone with low physical activity. If drinking more water is your goal, gradually increase how much you drink per day, because while not drinking enough water can have unwanted side effects, you can absolutely drink too much water.  If you’re looking to improve your nutrition or hydration for performance, or health, work with me to get an individualized plan! 

Tailoring Hydration to Your Lifestyle:

  • Physical Activity: If you exercise regularly you’ll need to replace the fluids lost through sweat. If you get dehydrated, it can take up to 24 hours to get back to baseline. The goal to replace fluids when working out is to drink 16-24 ounces per pound lost during exercise. This will help you rehydrate before your next training.
  • Environment: Hot and/or humid weather increases fluid loss through sweating, so wintertime our fluid needs are lower. Adjust your water intake based on the season, you can track weight changes before/after training to do this.
  • Pay Attention: Listen to your body! Thirst is a natural indicator that it’s time to drink water, so is a low body weight when you wake up. Check out the color of your urine as a quick visual cue for your hydration status– aim for a pale, straw-like color. Any darker and you need more fluid. 
  • Know Your Goals: Going from almost no water, to 100 ounces is NOT the way to go! Take it slow, and ask Nutrition Synergy how much water you need per day, and the best strategy to safely reach this. 

Practical Tips for Staying Hydrated:

  • Carry a Reusable Water Bottle: Having your favorite water bottle on hand makes it easy to sip throughout the day, whether you’re at work, home, or working out.
  • Infuse Water with Flavor: Plain water can feel dull, so try infusing it with a slice of lemon, fresh cucumber, or mint for a refreshing and tasty twist! 
  • Eat More Fruits / Vegetables: Produce has a high water content, increasing fluid intake without having to “drink more”. They also have great health benefits so you’re killing two birds with one stone!
  • Create a Routine: Establish a hydration routine by drinking water at specific times during the day. Many of my clients are aiming to drink water before meals, or monitor their water intake with a midday goal (around lunchtime) and evening goal (around dinnertime). 

In the realm of healthy eating and wellness, water is a superhero!  By prioritizing proper hydration, you can empower your body to function optimally, support your fitness endeavors, and enhance your overall well-being. So, raise a (water) glass to good health, and let the power of water help to lead you on your journey to a healthier, happier you.

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