When it comes to improving the performance of our bodies, we often become so focused on some areas that we neglect others. Of course, this is natural. Even a highly-trained athlete relies on the help of fitness and nutrition experts to make sure all the key elements are duly incorporated into their lifestyle. At Performance One, we act as that support and expertise for those trying to reach the next level.
When it comes to helping one reach their fitness potential, however, the old adage of teaching one to fish instead of fishing for them rings true. Our job is just as much to educate athletes as it is to train them. That being said, there is an important fact of biology we want to make sure everyone understands:
Water is fuel too.
Meal prep and exercise plans become so present in our minds, we forget that water is the most fundamental component of our health.
Water and the Body
Up to 60 percent of the human adult body is water, accounting for up to 90 percent of its weight. According to the United States Geological Survey, water carries out the following key functions:
- Forms saliva for digestion
- Provides moisture to mucosal membranes
- Allow cells to grow, reproduce, and survive
- Flushes body waste from our bodies in the form of urine
- Lubricates joints
- Needed by the brain to manufacture hormones and neurotransmitters
- Regulates body temperature
- Helps deliver oxygen to all reaches of the body
As you may have noticed, each one of these functions is fundamental to our survival. The problem is, when we go about our daily activities, we lose water— fluids that need to be replenished. This is even more true for athletes who leave each training session drenched in sweat.
Water and Athletes
While the average person loses between 0.8 and 1.4 liters in sweat during an hour of exercise, an athlete can more than double those numbers. Losing nearly a gallon of sweat during a training session creates a serious need for deliberate water consumption throughout the day.
Though it may seem like a lot, athletes should concentrate on consuming up to one fluid ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. This means a 200-pound male athlete, training daily at high intensity, should be drinking nearly 6 liters of water per day— just over a gallon and a half.
Now, it can be counterproductive if large amounts of water are consumed at a time. It’s best to spread water consumption out throughout the day. Emptying some of that hydro flask immediately after waking up is a good practice. Then, focusing on drinking consistent amounts before, during, and after your workout will lead to proper hydration. Athletes who drink enough water, perform better in the long run. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t Forget Electrolytes
While athletes need to consume a lot of water, they also need electrolytes. Heavy training leads to the loss of important compounds through sweat such as salt and potassium. These compounds are also crucial for performance. Electrolyte-infused waters, fruits, and natural fruit juices are among the best ways to replenish lost electrolytes and should be consumed daily by athletes in training.
The message is simple. If you are an athlete of any age striving to improve your performance, you need to drink a lot of water. In most cases, this will have to be a concentrated and planned effort just like meals and workouts— and if you insist on drinking caffeinated beverages, plan on upping your water consumption even more. Although it may seem like a chore, it will make a significant difference in the long run.