Nutrition

The 411 on Staying Hydrated

To train more effectively and hit your goals, drink up.

Man Drinking Bottled Water
Mike Kemp / Getty Images

To surive and thrive, our bodies need water -- containing 45 to 75 percent, that's close to 10-12 gallons. It sounds like a lot, but two-thirds of water is held inside muscle tissue (intracellular) and one-third extracellular. Breaking down the numbers: blood is 83 percent water, lean muscle is 73 percent, body fat is around 25 percent, and bones are about 22 percent. The function of water is extremely important for bodybuilders and weightlifters -- maintaining body temperature and lubricating joints. Water is also held responsible for our body's delivery and waste removal, cushioning organs and tissue, and serving as a source of sweat. 

We can achieve 60 percent of our water needs from other fluid sources like fruit juices and milk. Another method in meeting water needs is through fruits and vegetables -- making up 30 percent. The remaining 10 percent is metabolized in our bodies as micronutrients. But how does the body lose water? The answer is simple: urination, defecation, breathing, and sweating -- 90 percent of that gets lost during a workout. It's important to note that sweat output can change depending on the environment, intensity and duration of the workout, and size of the individual.

Avoid the Imitations

It's a myth that you have to rehydrate with a Gatorade or Powerade because of the electrolytes: sodium, potassium, and chloride. These electrolytes can easily be obtained through a balanced diet, and most sports drinks contain double the amount of sodium. But if you're reaching for a sports drink during a workout, then I recommend diluting the sports drink down into quarters. This prevents you from consuming added sugar and sodium. At the same time, drinks with electrolytes enhance fluid absorption, especially if you're pushing hard past the 60 minute mark and if it's humid. 

Drink the Right Amount

As bodybuilders we're constantly monitoring our weight, before and after exercise. If you drop a pound on the scale post-workout, then replace that one pound with two to three cups of water. Also, monitor the volume and color of your urine; a small volume and dark color indicates dehydration.

  • Adequate Intake: The recommended intake for women over the age of 19 is 2.7 liters a day (91 ounces) or six bottles of water, and for men it's 3.7 liters a day or 8 bottles of water (125 ounces) a day. Note: water needs for each person vary, depending on age, activity level, and climate.
  • Amount Consumed Before Exercise: Two to three hours prior to working out, consume 17-20 ounces or one bottle of water, and 10-20 minutes before, drink 7-10 ounces or one glass of water. 
  • Amount during Exercise: Your main goal is to match sweat and urine output with fluid input, so be aware as to how much water you're losing via sweat and urine. It's recommended to drink 7-10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes, especially during a high-intensity exercise that's over 60 minutes in humid weather. 
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