Everything You Need to Know About Staying Hydrated

October 15, 2015

After completing a long workout, there’s nothing sweeter than drinking a tall, cold glass of water. But if you’re only drinking water after your workout, you need to stop and reevaluate your strategy. Instead, you need to be drinking water before and during your workout as well.

What Water Does for Your Body

Our bodies are 60% water, and in order to stay alive and healthy, we must drink water to replenish what we lose on a daily basis. Water has many benefits that people tend to overlook. In addition to quenching your thirst, water helps the body:

  • Balance bodily fluids
  • Keep tissues hydrated
  • Regulate body temperature
  • Lubricate joints

Find the Right Amount of Water for You

We’ve all heard that you should drink eight glasses of water a day, but that’s a myth. There’s no one size fits all solution to staying hydrated, as everyone will require different amounts based on level of activity and fitness. Not to mention that a lot of our daily water intake is gotten from food.

However, there are base rules that you need to follow to stay hydrated during all stages of exercise. You want to weigh yourself before you work out because it’ll give you a good idea of how much water you lost during the workout. The rule of thumb is to drink eight ounces of fluids for every pound lost after a workout.

Choose a Nutrient Rich Sports Drink

Before your exercise, drink a nutrient-rich drink like Gatorade to help your body absorb more water later. Sports drinks like Gatorade help you replace electrolytes as you sweat, but balance them with water. Drinking too many drinks containing electrolytes can lead to a chemical imbalance and make you sick.

Take Hydration Breaks during Exercise

When exercising, stop every once in a while to re-hydrate or even take sips during the workout. You’ll want to drink at least eight ounces for every ten minutes of exercise. However, that doesn’t mean chug water during your break. Doing so can make you feel sick. Drink slowly and make sure it’s cold because our bodies absorb cold water faster than warm water.

Monitor Your Urine after Exercising

While we might think that thirst is a good indication that we need to drink some water, it’s not reliable. One could arguably go for hours without feeling thirsty. Instead of relying on your sense of thirst, monitor the color of your urine for signs that you need to drink more. Especially if you’ve gone the entire workout without drinking anything.

After you’ve exercised, follow the weight/water rule and drink something like Gatorade or water. Later, when you go to the bathroom, monitor your urine. If you’re producing little urine or it’s dark in color, get something to drink as that’s a warning sign of dehydration. You want to aim for urine that is clear or light in color–a sure sign that you’re drinking enough fluids. Remember that it may take a while for your body to absorb water, so don’t freak out if your urine is dark after drinking–give it time.

Next Up: Avoiding Injury When Starting a Fitness Routine