Water is necessary to live, yet 75% of adults in the USA are regularly dehydrated. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to tell clients to drink more water. Unfortunately, most people think they actually drink enough water or that drinking any liquid in general will hydrate them. Yes, coffee has water in it, but it’s also a diuretic, which means your body will expel the water before it’s fully absorbed. Soda and alcohol technically have water in them too, but the high levels of alcohol and sugar cause more damage than good. Since we rely on water so much to survive, imagine how regular dehydration affects your body. Here are just a few on the long list of effects that dehydration can have on us.
Lower athletic performance
Our muscles are made up of approximately 80% water. It’s a key component of muscular function, your focus, and coordination. If your muscles can’t function and your athletic skill isn’t at its best, do you really think you’re going to perform at 100%? No. Being optimally hydrated will really help you get the gains.
Reduced brain function
When our bodies are dehydrated our brains stop working as well as normal. It’s difficult to focus and motivation to do anything physical is lacking. Your memory may be a little foggy and you could feel irritable and tired. The list continues. Our brain is surrounded by a substance called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is partially made up of water. CSF is vital as it helps to deliver nutrients to the brain. If you’re dehydrated, this nutrient delivery is affected, your brain enters a ‘starving’ state, and its functionality is reduced.
Negative effects on bodily functions
Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract includes all of your organs involved in intaking, digesting, and expelling food. Low water intake can have quite a few effects on your GI tract. If you’ve been having bathroom issues lately, try to drink more water, as constipation is a common side effect of dehydration. If there’s not enough fluid in the body, its waste will be a lot more solid than you’d like.
Your metabolic function, or metabolism, can also be affected by dehydration. This is one of the functions that directly affects your weight. Metabolism refers to how much energy (or calories) your body needs to burn to function. Having a higher metabolisms means your body burns more calories on a day to day basis. A lower metabolism, and your body burns less.
Now, there are things we can do to raise our metabolism: exercise and drink plenty of water. When we drink water our bodies feel more satiated or full, so we don’t feel the need to snack or eat more and our bodies end up burning stored calories, or fat. Try drinking a glass of water before every meal and see what happens in a month.
Yes, dehydration can affect your physical appearance. Your hair will be dryer and seem to split a little more than normal. Your skin will appear dryer and your wrinkles may seem more defined. Every so often your skin sheds its outer layer; water is a key player in this function. When dehydrated, the outer layer of skin sheds less often, making you look dry and dull. Drinking water helps our skin to look hydrated and fresh.
How much do you need?
Now that we know how the body reacts to dehydration, it’s time to learn how much water you should drink. 75% of American adults are only drinking on average 2.5 cups of water a day. You should be aiming to drink half an ounce to one ounce of water for every pound you weigh. So if you weigh 160lbs, you should be drinking 80-160 ounces of water a day.
It can be hard to measure how many ounces of water you’ve been drinking. Carrying a water bottle around with you may help, or you could simply try following the 8x8 rule. That’s drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Whatever you need to do, just do it. You’ll notice a difference.
Maddy has worked in the health and fitness industry for 5 years. She has a bachelors in Exercise Science and has recently received her Masters in Exercise Physiology. She has worked with a wide demographic of clients as a Personal Trainer and loves helping people reach their goals and continue to grow. She is an outdoor enthusiast and dedicates her workouts to rock climbing, hiking and whatever new experiences may come her way.
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