Ahh, water. One of the most important, and often most neglected, parts of the 'Health and Fat Loss' puzzle. As you probably know, water makes up nearly 60% of our total bodyweight, always a great piece of trivia to whip out at parties.
But how does this apply to me in a functional sense, and why should I care?
Well allow me to enlighten you!
- Different cells contain different amounts of water: bone contains 22% water, fat tissue contains 25% water, muscle contains 75% water, and blood contains a whopping 83% water!
- Water acts to dissolve nutrients and carry them into or away from our cells. When eating a high-quality diet to provide vitamins and minerals to the body, water is needed to allow the body to actually use them!
- Any issues with your joints when you exercise, or just day to day? Water acts as a lubricant for your joints, and absorbs shock for the spinal cord and the eyes.
- It also protects babies! The amniotic fluid which surrounds a growing fetus is composed primarily of water, which protects it from mechanical forces transferred through the mother's body.
- The body functions best at a state of balance, particularly in regards to temperature. Body water content acts to regulate body temperature through sweating.
As you can see, staying hydrated provides much more for the body than merely quenching your thirst. Staying hydrated (being in a state of fluid balance, when fluid input matches fluid output) is essential for optimal health, as well as allowing you to reach your Health, Fat Loss and Fitness goals.
So, I should be guzzling water all day?
Yes and no. There's an upper and lower end of everything in life, and hydration is no different. Dehydration is the lower end here, where the body loses water and salts necessary for regular bodily functions.
But it's not too bad, right? I mean, I can get around with some level of dehydration, right?
Get along, yes. Function optimally, definitely not! Here are some of the effects of even minimal body water loss:
- 0.5% = increased strain on the heart
- 1% = decreased aerobic endurance
- 3% = decreased muscular endurance
- 4% = reduced muscle strength, reduced motor skills, heat cramps
- 5% = heat exhaustion, cramping, fatigue, decreased mental capacity
- 6% = physical exhaustion, heatstroke, coma
- 10%+ = DEATH!
The body does not adapt to dehydration! You can push through it, but you don't get better at being dehydrated! Drink up! To find how much water you need, multiply your bodyweight in kilograms by 0.033, which will give you the amount in litres you need for the average day. On exercise (or hot) days, add another litre.
The other side of the coin here is hyponatremia, where the body has too much water relative to sodium (salt) concentrations. To balance the amount of water you have with the amount of salt and minerals your body needs, try adding some salt to your meals (a pinch or two with main meals works well) or adding a rehydration/electrolyte powder to a bottle of water and drinking it over the course of the day.
Water, salts, got it. Anything else?
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.