I’m always asking folk that I treat how “good” they are at drinking. The general response is a sheepish look and an answer of “..I know I should drink more..”. But how much is enough? And why is it important? The simple answer to the second question is that without fluids, we simply do not function. A 2% drop in hydration level can result in a 10-20% decrease in performance. A 5% drop can lead to a 30%+ decline. Although our muscles are around 80% water (thus, more hydrated = healthy, happier muscles), I should say that when we mention performance, we are not talking about just on the football pitch, or in the gym; your brain is 73% water (1) so if you suffer from ‘fuzzy brain’ in the office, you are almost definitely in need of more fluid.
So how much do we need? The standard “8 glasses a day” has a few obvious flaws (body weight, activity level etc), so a fairly simple formula as to how much you need would read something like;
Bodyweight in lbs ÷ 2 = Fluid needed in oz.
Meaning a 140lb person would be looking at 70 oz, or just shy of 2 litres. And thats on a relatively innactive day! On active/exercise days, we of course need more to keep going. Commited athletes will weigh thesmselves pre workout and post workout, and measure the weight loss. For every Kg lost in weight, we would ideally be replacing that with between 1 and 1.5 litres of fluids.
What can we drink? Drinking water is a of course the obvious choice because it delivers fluid without adding calories (or potentially damaging teeth with huge amounts of sugar). Milk, fruit juices and soft drinks are all ok – as long as sugar content isnt too high (which rules out fizzy drinks!!). The ‘grey area’ drinks for most people are tea or coffee which are ok as they do deliver water, and though these drinks will contain caffeine, in modest amounts caffeine doesn’t affect hydration. Key word; modest.
How can I tell if I am getting enough water? Feeling thirsty is a very obvious sign that your body needs to drink more. However, the easiest – but maybe not the most pleasant – way to spot that you might not be getting enough water is monitoring the colour of your urine (see below chart). If you are getting enough water your urine should be a pale straw colour. So the darker your urine, the than the more likely you need to drink some more fluid.
N.B. There are no ‘one size fits all’ style quick fixes in most injury scenarios, so these article shouldnt be seen as such. They are merely guides to a better understanding of how our bodies work.
For more information please visit www.dc-injuryclinic.co.uk