Water is an essential part of our daily diet and contributes to every organ and function in the body. It accounts for close to 60% of our total body weight and a fall in just 1% of this can impact our body homeostasis (balance of systems in the body!).
Even mild dehydration can lead to lethargy and can compromise both our mental and physical performance. Water is responsible for carrying nutrients to our cells, transporting waste to be detoxified and controlling our body temperature.
And don’t be fooled by the British weather. Just because it might not be sweltering hot during the summer, or even warm most days of the month (let’s be honest) that doesn’t mean we don’t need as much water in our diets. Central heating and air-con can drastically impact our hydration levels as can those numerous cups of coffee and tea that you have been living off to power you through the day after those long nights of Pimm’s drinking.
Coffee and many teas (including some herbal teas such as dandelion, green tea, many black teas) are diuretics, meaning they promote the body to get rid of excess fluids. If we don’t replenish our body with enough non-tea/coffee liquids, we could find ourselves becoming dehydrated.
How to know if you are dehydrated?
Thirst is a late indicator of dehydration. When you begin to feel thirsty, our body is already dehydrated at a cellular level. If you need more proof? The color of your urine can also determine your hydration status. Dark yellow urine indicates dehydration whereas clear urine indicates a well hydrated body.
If you start your workout in a dehydrated state, it may adversely affect your performance. Water is an essential component of our muscles and keeps our joints lubricated. Without enough water, you may experience stiffness and muscle cramping – the last thing you want mid exercise.
Pre-workout hydration should start anywhere up to three hours before you exercise – of course this depends on what type of activity, the length of the workout, weather/ temperature, your bodily composition and intensity. It is important to note that glugging down one liter of water just before you exercise is not the answer! If you drink too quickly, not only could it make you nauseous but you will also trigger a cascade of events in the body that will result in your body flushing out excess nutrients through urination. Plus no one wants a slushy stomach impacting their Pilates 100’s.
After any form of exercise, it is important to replenish your body with the fuel and nutrients it needs for recovery. Hydration should be your first point of call…even before food!
Key electrolytes and salts are lost through sweating, urinating and even breathing! Replacing these reserves should be a top priority. Electrolytes are salts that conduct electric charges, which are essential for muscular contraction, cellular hydration and nerve function. If you fail to adequately replace these you may develop cramps, nausea and stiffness.
To hydrate and replenish lost electrolytes, choose natural options over your typical sports drinks that are packed with additives, chemicals, colours, multiple forms of sugar and/or artificial sweeteners. You can get the same if not more electrolytes from natural alternatives! Coconut water (always choose the unsweetened kind and raw if possible!) per cup has 600mg of Potassium, 58mg of Calcium compared to your average sports drink (I won’t name and shame!) which offers only 35mg of Potassium and 2mg of Calcium.
Making your own healthy electrolyte drink is incredibly easy and satisfying and will ensure that you aren’t missing out on any key nutrients that may hinder your workout and performance. These can be drunk before, during and after your workout – or even as a hangover cure.
COCO-UMBER ELECTROLYE DRINK
- 250ml raw coconut water
- 150 ml filtered water
- ½ cucumber – sliced
- Pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt or Celtic salt
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- ½ tbsp of molasses/Grade A maple syrup/coconut blossom syrup – if your workout has been strenuous or you are not able to have a snack/meal in the 30 minutes prior to your workout add this.
Mix all the ingredients together in a large water bottle/jug and refrigerate overnight or drink asap and enjoy!
- Ismail, I., Singh, R. and Sirisinghe, R.G., (2007). Rehydration with sodium-enriched coconut water after exercise-induced dehydration.
- Kalman, D., Feldman, S., Krieger, D. and Bloomer, R. (2012). Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), p.1.
- Maughan, R.J., (2003). Impact of mild dehydration on wellness and on exercise performance. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57, pp.S19-S23.