Over the past month and a half, many of us have been participating in the Paleo Challenge. This has been an awesome experience and has forced many of us to think about what we put into our bodies and how we fuel the machine that allows us to come into the gym each day and do all that we do.
Often, when we talk about “fueling” our bodies, we think about food; what we all too often neglect to remember is hydration. Keeping your body hydrated is essential to maintaining health and energy.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “Drink eight 8 oz glasses of water a day” and this may be a good starting place. But what must be taken into account is our individual hydration needs and activity level. If you enjoy coming into the gym and completing a WOD that leaves you laying on the floor in a puddle of sweat, consider that the “sweat angel” that you just left behind represents fluids that will need to be replaced within your body. According to the Institute of Medicine, the adequate intake of fluid per day for an adult is between 2.2 liters for women and 3 liters for men1, this is equivalent to 9.3 and 12.7 eight oz glasses of fluid. This is AVERAGE adequate hydration and does not take into account activity level. Also keep in mind that hydration should occur throughout the course of the day and not just 5 minutes before or during the workout. You can actually determine how much water you lose during the course of a workout, by simply weighing yourself first thing in the morning and after a workout to determine that amount of fluid loss2. This can enable you to better prepare your body for the impact of CrossFit’s high intensity workouts. Proper preparation is key to a safe and effective experience at the gym.
Here are some ideas to help you to remember to drink throughout the day: set a reminder alarm on your phone to go off every two hours, carry a reusable water bottle with you and keep it topped off throughout the day, try various types of mineral or sparkling water to keep yourself interested, take an empty gallon bottle and measure out 8 oz at a time and mark a line with a Sharpie then check off throughout the day as you drink each 8 oz serving.
Dehydration can become very dangerous very quickly. Signs of dehydration include: muscle fatigue, loss of coordination, inability to regulate body temperature, cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and decreased energy and athletic performance. These are early onset signs; the effects of dehydration can become dramatically more perilous if left unaddressed.
As you consider your liquid consumption habits, also consider your alcohol consumption. Alcohol, though liquid, does not hydrate the body, in fact, it does quite the opposite and will leave your body in need of hydration. If you go out and spend an evening imbibing, consider that your body is now at a deficit and will require more fluid replenishment than usual to catch up and be ready to operate at its normal level. This is not a good time to go for a 10 mile run or try to PR your Filthy Fifty. Your body will need to recover and regain fluid balance before you attempt working out.
Just keep in mind, you can live for 3 weeks without food, but you can only survive 3 days without water. So DRINK UP!