Consistency Is Key To Health And Fitness – Part 1 The Importance of Proper Hydration

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A significant amount of the human body is made up of water. In a newborn, it may be as high as 75 percent of the body weight, but it progressively decreases from birth to old age. Obesity decreases the percentage of water in the body, sometimes to as low as 45 percent. These figures are statistical, since all human bodies and circumstances are different. They simply illustrate the importance of replacing the water we lose from our systems daily.

How important is water to the body? It can mean the difference between life and death in serious cases of dehydration. It helps transport oxygen to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs. Although, most of us will never experience this type of serious water loss, our bodies are often water deprived. The amount of water we need to drink in the span of 24 hours varies. The fact is our bodies tell us when it needs hydration, but we don’t always listen or we give it a cup of coffee, a glass of tea or a soda instead of the water it actually needs.

Coffee, tea, sodas and even sports drinks are not the best drinks for replacing body fluid. Coffee, tea and some sodas have a significant amount of caffeine, which is a natural diuretic and actually impedes the replacement of water in the body. Some drinks are full of sugar (calories) which we don’t need to hydrate our bodies.

How much water do we need to drink to maintain a healthy and fit body? There are many schools of thought on this subject. Some experts believe you can estimate the amount of water you need by taking your weight in pounds and dividing that number in half. That gives you the number of ounces you may want to drink each day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you might want to drink at least 80 ounces of water or other fluids per day. How much water you need to drink depends on many factors, such as, the amount of your physical activity and the climate where you are located.

Personally, I try to listen to my body and give it what it really needs. I have not always done this and I have suffered the consequences. To illustrate, there was the time I walked aproximately ten miles on the beach in the sweltering Florida summer sun. I left my water bottle in the car and when I finished, instead of drinking the water I went to a nearby restaurant and ordered lunch with a beer. After a few swallows of beer I began to feel sick and when I stood up to go to the restroom I collapsed. Several hours and a sun stroke later I was in hospital being hydrated intravenously.

You see just how important it really is to be aware of what your body is telling you and you give it what it really needs. Lost fluids may be replaced by the fluids in the foods you eat and the beverages you drink, but what your body really needs is cool clear sparkling H20. Not only is water the best choice, it is the most economical choice. You don’t need to go out and buy expensive bottled water. In fact, sometimes bottled water is worse than your own unpurified tap water. There are many inexpensive ways to purify your own tap water. Just pick the one you can afford and you will be set to go.

When should you drink water?

Between meals, if you feel hungry, try some fresh drinking water first to see if you are dehydrated. Sometimes people think they are hungry when they really are just thirsty.

In the morning: Before doing anything else, drinking one to two glasses of water just after you wake up can help stimulate peristalsis (wavelike muscle contractions of the alimentary tract that moves food along), lower blood concentration and boost blood circulation.

Before a meal: Drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal can help prepare the digestive system to better absorb nutrients. Drinking water before a meal helps you feel fuller, so you may be less likely to attack your meal like a starving person.

After a meal: It is NOT advisable to drink lots of water during or within half an hour after a meal because it can affect digestion.

In the afternoon: About 2:00 -3:00 o’clock in the afternoon drink 2 cups of water to refresh the body and the mind and improve your ability to think clearly and to concentrate.

One hour before sleep: The body consumes water while we are asleep, making us feel thirsty and dehydrated in the morning. Drinking some water an hour before you sleep can help replenish any water loss during the night.

This is meant to be a guideline, but it is one that I try to stick to as closely as possible, because I have come to know that I feel much better overall throughout the day if I do.

Now let’s put all this into perspective as it relates to fitness and working out. Why does drinking water after a workout make more sense than drinking sports drinks, juices, etc.? Ironically, while these drinks are often referred to as “energy” drinks, in the long run the sugar they contain does just the opposite. After causing a quick explosion of energy, your energy plummets as your pancreas and other glands do all they can to balance out the toxic stimulation to your blood sugar. Most also contain high amounts of sodium (processed salt), which is meant to replenish the electrolytes you lose while sweating. However, a better option is to simply add a small amount of natural, unprocessed salt, such as Himalayan salt, to your water. Unlike processed salt, this natural salt contains 84 different minerals and trace minerals that your body needs for optimal function. Another excellent option when you’re sweating profusely is fresh coconut water. It’s one of the highest sources of electrolytes known to man.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of drinking water before, during and after exercise. It is especially important to drink water after exercise and physical exertion. When you exercise, you lose water through sweat. This is water that needs to be adequately replaced for you to maintain optimal health. You should start drinking fluids about 2 hours before you exercise. This hydrates you and also allows your body to excrete unneeded water. You should drink water early on in your workout and then regularly throughout your activity. It is important to drink water at the same rate as you are losing fluid through sweat. Your system relies on adequate fluids to keep running in top form so, drink often. Dehydration can make you tired, and your ability to think clearly and to concentrate can be affected, too.

In summary, we can live for quite some time without food, but we will not live long without water. When you get up in the morning before you go out for that walk or climb on that treadmill, drink a big tall glass of water.

Coming in Part 2 – How the proper diet affects your energy levels.

Excerpt: Balanced meals and snacks help provide sustained energy to keep you going. Proteins, carbs and fats are digested at different rates, so meals that have a balance of these nutrients will give you more staying power than those that don’t. Your protein shake with fruit keeps you going because you get some quick energy from the fruit and long lasting energy from the protein powder and milk. On the other hand, if you eat an all-carb breakfast (like toast, jam and fruit) everything will get digested at pretty much the same rate – and pretty quickly too. Without some protein to keep you going, you’ll find your energy dipping in no time.

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