The importance of water
In the world of fitness, nutrition and supplementation you can’t fail to find a glossary of scientific or ‘sexy’ sounding compounds that invoke ideas of superhuman gains or a shortcut to success: creatine monohydrate, dopamine, testosterone are but a few. However, one of the fundamental elements at our disposal to help us maximise our performance, both mentally and physically is often overlooked, as it is simply, ordinary and abundant.
But, water, or to use its correct name, dihydrogen monoxide, is not only key to letting us use and transport the more sexy-sounding performance chemicals and hormones around our bodies but it is fundamental in helping us maintain homeostasis, our bodies natural optimum operating environment.
As a rough guide we should be aiming to consume daily, approximately 30ml of water per kg of bodyweight. So, at 90kg I would be aiming for about 2.7 litres. If you weight yourself in Stones, then divide that weight by 5. So at roughly 14 stone I would need about 2.8 litres.
This intake includes food, water, coffee etc, and don’t worry about coffee being a diuretic, it isn’t. Caffeine itself has a mild diuretic effect, but the amount of water in a cup of coffee far outweighs any diuretic effect of the caffeine itself, and unless you are overdosing on caffeine tablets you will be fine.
Use this calculation to estimate your hourly intake during exercise: 8ml water per kg bodyweight. Again, in my case this is 8ml x 90kg = 720ml. Then aim to sip this amount throughout the hour-long session (think ‘little and often’).
If you are exercising in a hot environment you might want to increrse this a little,and if you are exercising for longer than about an hour you will want to consider adding electrolytes. This will replace the Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium lost during sweating. The approximate electrolyte ratio that matches our body’s intracellular environment is 50:10:3 respectively. We normally achieve this balance through our food intake, but during hard and/or hot exercise as we sweat more, we need to replenish this more rapidly.
Dehydration describes too little water in our body and hyponatremia describes too much water though it actually means low sodium.