For most of us, the importance of drinking enough water is something that we’ve had drilled into us since we were kids.
Unfortunately however, while we all basically know that water is important, most of us don’t really have a firm understanding of why.
Today we’re going to be drilling into the specifics. By the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to know about water - why it matters, how much (and when) to drink, and all of the benefits that you may not have considered.
The most frequently asked question when it comes to water and health is a great place to start.
Why Should You Drink Water When Working Out?
The most obvious reason you want to stay hydrated when you’re working out is simple - sweat. As you sweat, your body is, essentially, shedding fluid which needs to be replaced. And it turns out that it needs to be replaced fairly rapidly. A number of studies have been done looking at hydration and athletic performance, and all of them have repeatedly shown that a lack of water has a very detrimental effect on your performance. To put it in perspective, one study found that a hydration level decrease of a mere 2% of bodyweight is enough to significantly effect performance levels.
This is true regardless of the type of training you do, but it’s especially important if you’re going to be doing intense cardio work - critical if you spend any amount of time grinding it out on a treadmill or an elliptical machine.
How Much Water Should I Drink?
Now let’s get into some of the details. The old standard used to be that you should drink eight 8 oz glasses per day. And to be fair, that’s not a bad place to start. But it doesn’t really take a number of variables into account.
To start with, these are guidelines for the average person. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re either an athlete or, at the very least, someone who spends a decent amount of time in the gym. Therefore, it stands to reason that you’re going to need more than the average person.
A better guideline for someone like you is this - throughout the course of the day, you should be shooting for between 1/2 - 1 gallon. The exact amount will depend on both your size (bigger people obviously need more) and how you feel in general.
In addition, you should be adding 30 - 50 oz spread out throughout the course of your workout.
This will, of course, depend on how long it is and the type of work you’re doing.
If you’re hitting a quick arm workout in your home gym, for example, you’ll obviously be fine on the lower end of things.
If, however, you’re blasting out a full HIIT workout you’ll probably need even more than 50 oz.
Just remember that, when in doubt, more is usually better.
Why should you drink Water OUTSIDE The Gym?
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of drinking enough water for your training needs, let’s talk a little about how it’ll help you when you’re NOT in the gym.
And like drinking enough during your workout, a lot of people understand that it’s generally a good idea - they just don’t know why. All they know is that it’s “healthy”.
Well, it turns out that in addition to being healthy, getting your water in has a number of perks you may not have considered.
The Top Three Reasons to Drink More Water
- Less Hunger. For those of you who are in the gym because you’re looking to shed some weight, we’ve got news for you - staying hydrated will go a long way to helping you stick with your diet. There are a few reasons for this. The first is the fact that hunger can (in certain situations) be a sign that you’re just dehydrated. We’ve all had that experience where we thought we were starving, but a nice big glass of ice cold water just seemed to do the trick. The second is the overall sensation of fullness. It may sound pretty obvious, but it’s something a lot of people overlook - water fills up your stomach, creating the sensation that you’re less hungry than you actually are (this is particularly beneficial when it comes to avoiding snacks between meals).
- Better Skin. This one should be fairly obvious, but it’s shocking how many people spend hundreds of dollars on skin creams and yet completely neglect this fundamental principal. For those of you who need a quick review of high school biology, it works like this - a huge portion of your body is made up of water. Your skin is constantly generating and shedding old cells and creating new ones. And in order to make sure you’re looking nice and radiant, you need to give it enough of the “raw materials” to do its job. Water is also responsible for flushing out many of the toxins that make your complexion look, well, kind of dull.
- Less Bloat. Referred to in scientific terms as “water retention”, bloat is that nasty, puffy, and (thankfully) temporary water weight we all get from time to time. It can be caused by a number of factors, but a big one is loading up on processed carbs and salt. While there are a lot of things you can do to avoid this, an easy way to not only prevent it but to help get rid of it once it sets in is to take in lots of water. This signals to the body that it’s getting enough fluid and doesn’t need to hoard it. And no, water retention isn’t “real” fat - but it sure looks and feels like it.
So, ladies and gentlemen…drink your water.
It may seem kind of annoying if you’re not already paying attention to this, but once you start, it’ll become a habit - and something that will seriously pay off for you in the longterm.
Have questions? Ask them in the comments below!