Staying hydrated not only helps with your alertness, controlling appetite, and improving activity and sport performance, but it also keeps every day symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and dry skin at bay.
First Thing's First: Are You Properly Hydrated?
There are two simple ways to measure your hydration status. One method can be used anytime and the other is useful after performing physical activity. The first way to measure your hydration status is to examine the color of your urine. If you're hydrated, your urine will appear to be a very pale yellow--almost clear (keep in mind the water in the bowl will dilute it some). If your urine is much darker--like the color of apple juice or tea--this means that your body is dehydrated.
The other method is used to determine your sweat rate. To do this, weigh yourself naked before performing any exercise. Once you've finished exercising, weigh yourself naked again (sweat-soaked clothing will give you inaccurate results). For every pound lost, drink 16 fluid ounces to replace it.
Are You Keeping Hydrated During Exercise?
To maintain proper hydration, it's important to drink before, during, and after exercise. When heavy sweating is expected, drink two to three cups of water two to three hours before exercise. Thirty minutes before exercise, drink five to ten ounces. During activity that causes a lot of sweat loss, drinking every 10 to 20 minutes can be beneficial. Those who sweat less can drink every 20 minutes. After exercise, weigh yourself to determine how much you will need to rehydrate adequately.
Are Sports Drinks Good for Rehydrating?
Water is generally the best drink to rehydrate with. However, sports drinks are appropriate after 60 to 90 minutes of intense activity or heavy sweating. Drinking sports drinks casually (when no exercise has been performed) may lead to weight gain since these drinks typically contain calories.
7 Great Tips to Staying Hydrated
If you're living a busy life, even simple tasks--like staying hydrated--can be difficult. So here are seven easy ways to keep your juices flowing.
1. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of water. Be sure to eat these daily, not only to stay hydrated, but to maintain optimal health.
2. Keep a large water bottle handy to encourage you to drink water wherever and whenever.
3. Have a glass of water before each meal.
4. After each trip to the restroom, drink a glass of water to replenish your fluids.
5. Set reminders on your phone, watch, or email to drink every hour.
6. Track your intake of fluids to make sure you get enough daily.
7. Add a slice of lemon, lime and/or basil to your water to give it some flavor without adding any extra calories.
Mandy Seay is a bilingual registered and licensed dietitian who holds both a bachelor's degree in nutrition and in journalism. After gaining 30 pounds while living abroad, Mandy worked to lose the weight and regain her health. It was here that she discovered her passion for nutrition and went on to pursue a career as a dietitian. Mandy currently works as a nutrition consultant and freelance writer in Austin, Texas, where she specializes in diabetes, weight management and general and preventive nutrition. She recently published her first book, Your Best Health, a personalized program to losing weight and gaining a healthy lifestyle. Please visit Mandy's website at Nutritionistics.com.