Food and Fitness Fundamentals
Adequate hydration is of key importance for everyday physical health, and is especially crucial when exercising in the extreme heat that summertime often brings. Fluid needs are quite individualized and dependent on many factors such as health condition and personal fitness, body size and gender, normal daily activity, exercise routine, (intensity and duration), as well as air temperature and humidity. The human body consists of 60-70 percent water by weight, so in order for it to run efficiently, it needs to be sufficiently hydrated at all times. A simple weight loss of 2 percent or more of body weight from dehydration can visibly impair body function and physical performance.
How much water should we drink? Again, because fluid needs are so highly personalized, a good rule of thumb is the well-known saying, “Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day,” otherwise known as the “8 by 8” rule. Remember that water is found also in many foods, especially fruits and vegetables, as well as frozen fruit bars, sorbets and yoghurt which contribute toward the daily total.
The following are some recommendations and tips to help you stay hydrated all year around:
- Keep a water glass next to the bathroom and kitchen sinks, as well as your bed, for a reminder to get your “8 by 8”.
- Drink before you get thirsty. Carry a thermos with you while running errands or at work.
- Drink a glass of low calorie beverage at each meal.
- Recognize that alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, and actually increase fluid loss.
- Read labels for serving size, calories and sugar especially to avoid unwanted weight gain.
- Know terminology for various sugars, and try to limit words ending in “ose”, i.e. sucrose, fructose, and dextrose. Other common sugars are listed as agave, corn syrup, cane sugar and honey.
- Drink before, during and after an exercise regime. If exercise is intense and prolonged, consider a sports drink that contains electrolytes such as potassium and sodium as well as carbohydrates for energy. Take time to drink every 15 minutes.
- Besides the regular lemon or lime, freshen up your water with fresh berries, cucumbers, or herbs and create a tantalizing change.
- Learn the symptoms of dehydration i.e. excessive thirst, dry mouth/eyes, muscle weakness, fatigue, dizziness, headache and infrequent or dark urination.
Dehydration does not just occur during hot summer months; it can present anytime of the year and during activities such as swimming, which may often be unforeseen.
Remember to aim for the “8 by 8” rule as a general guideline for meeting your hydration needs, and read labels in order to avoid excess calories, sugar and unwanted weight gain.
For more information on what to drink and how to stay hydrated, contact the Nutrition Services Department at 541-753-1370.