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Water: Your body’s most essential nutrient!

August 4th, 2015

Water is the body’s most essential nutrient. Water alone makes up approximately 65% of your body. H20 is critical for maintenance of the circulatory and digestive systems as well maintaining proper kidney function and electrolyte balance. Mild dehydration is classified as a drop of 2-3% of body fluid, resulting in symptoms of tiredness, fatigue and headaches. Moderate dehydration occurs when your body fluid level drops by 5 or 6%. At this stage of fluid loss, symptoms such as muscle cramping, nausea, increased heart rate and extreme fatigue become apparent. Fluid loss of 7-9% results in extreme dehydration which can be fatal and requires emergency care to prevent organ failure.

While hydration is essential for all healthy body functioning, athlete hydration is of the paramount importance. Due to the nature of sport and training, dehydration is more common in athletes and results in performance detriments. Studies by the International Olympic Committee have found that dehydration can impair athlete performance in essentially every form of sport. While endurance athletes tend to be at a higher risk for dehydration due to activity length, anaerobic athletes can see a decrease in as much as 45% in the capacity to perform bursts of high intensity exertion. Dehydration results in performance decrements largely due to:

• Reductions in blood volume
• Decreased skin blood flow
• Decreased sweat rate
• Decreased heat dissipation
• Increased core temperature
• Increased rate of muscle glycogen use.

An important way to ensure you are staying hydrated through both your training and ice sessions is to measure your body weight before and after activity. You should be consuming 2 cups of fluid for every lb lost during exercise to help re-establish your hydration level. When you feel thirsty, your body has already started to become dehydrated, therefore you should not rely on thirst cues as an indicator of when you should drink. An easy way to keep track of your hydration levels, is to monitor the colour of your urine. The more hydrated your body is the more diluted (less yellow, more clear) your urine will be. As your body becomes more dehydrated, your urine will appear more concentrated (bright to dark yellow), indicating that you should up your water intake.

For active men, the average daily water intake you should strive for is about 16 cups (approx. 4L) whereas for females it is around 11 (or 2.75L).  We suggest that our athletes consume 8-10L per day during training.

Outside of reducing the likelihood of exercised induced dehydration, keeping your body hydrated can have many overall health benefits such as:

-improving muscle function
-detoxifying the body
-lubrication of joints
-increasing metabolism

Water is the most important and cheapest fluid you can drink! Are you keeping yourself quenched? 

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