The NHS recommends drinking around 6 to 8 glasses of water per day, roughly 1.2 litres of fluids to keep the body hydrated. However, the amount of fluid needed by the body when working out increases, and many people still only drink water when they are thirsty during exercise. Keeping hydrated before, during and after exercise is essential for overall health and lack of water or fluids may have detrimental effects,
Effects of Dehydration on Performance
During exercise, the body’s performance is impaired when dehydrated. Studies have shown that performance is inhibited by approximately 30 percent when the body is dehydrated. Dehydrating cells also results in raised histamine levels in the body leading to inflammation and pain. Water revitalises the body at a cellular level by transporting oxygen in and waste products like carbon dioxide out. Without water, all cells, including muscle cells, would be poisoned by these waste products leading to loss in strength. Sticking to water is healthiest but an electrolyte filled energy drink can be added as dehydration and heat combined can lead to muscle cramping.
Effect of Hydration on Bodily Health
As your body is made up of over 60 percent water, the more you replace during exercise, the better. Dehydration induced before exercise has been shown to increase heart rate, body temperature and even reliance on carbohydrates as a source of energy. This is particularly worsened in hotter environments according to a 1999 study published on the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology. Chronic dehydration can result in fatigue and energy loss, both of which will decrease motivation for exercise. Other adverse effects include high blood pressure and obesity due to craving foods to replace water.
Effects of Hydration on Appetite
Have you ever noticed you feel fuller when drinking fluids during or before a meal? It is not recommended that fluids replace meals entirely as we retrieve some of our daily fluid intake from food too. A 2010 study published in Nutritional Review shows that the total energy intake at meal times decreased with increased fluid intake.. Lack of fluids also increases craving for sweet things. The liver uses water and reducing this may reduce its ability to function and release glucose into the bloodstream. As a result, you may eat more sweet foods such as chocolate to compensate.
The body can survive without food for longer than it can without water showing how essential it is to get enough fluids. Avoid drinking only when thirsty and try to drink as much water as possible. Your body will adapt to the extra fluids and will thank you for it.
Thanks to Jane Sandwood for this great contribution