One of the most common myths when it comes to healthy, balanced nutrition is about how much water we should drink each day. Kim Hofmann, a Registered Dietitian and Virgin Active’s expert advisor on all things nutrition, is here with some hydration tips just in time for Nutrition and Hydration Week (14-20 March 2022).
We’ve all been taught that we should drink 8 glasses of water daily. In reality, there’s little evidence to support this claim, especially as everyone’s hydration needs are different. How much water we need is based on our age, gender, body shape and size, health and wellness, as well as how active we are.
Drink 1 glass of water per 10kg of body weight
One of the best ways to start your day is with a glass of water before you reach for a coffee or a cup of caffeinated tea – both of which have diuretic effects. And drinking enough water throughout the day is an essential part of a balanced eating routine. Staying well hydrated helps with digestion, distribution of nutrients and waste removal. On average, we should have 2 glasses of water plus 1 glass extra for every 10kg of body weight. You will know you are drinking enough water when you start getting thirsty during the day.
Dehydration impacts exercise performance Drinking enough water helps the body perform at its best. It prevents lethargy, brain fog, headaches and unnecessary snacking. The heart also doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood around the body, which means the nutrients and oxygen in the bloodstream reach the muscles much faster. This is especially important during exercise.
Staying hydrated helps you get the most out of your workout. Research shows that dehydration can negatively impact performance by up to 25%. Dehydration may also make you feel lightheaded, lethargic and is one of the main reasons for cramping.
If you’re partaking in GRID (our unique combination of high intensity interval training, functional fitness and mobility), for example, you’re guaranteed to get your heart rate up and to break into a sweat. This, together with your breathing, causes you to lose hydration, which is why it’s important to drink water before, during, and after a workout. And if you’re only working out for about an hour, you’ll get everything your body needs from water without the need for hydration with energy, such as sports drinks, juices or rehydrates.
This is how much water you should drink during exercise
Drink about 500ml of water 1-2 hours before a workout; a glass of water 15 minutes before you start; and a glass of water for every 15 minutes of your workout. You may need to drink even more water if you’re sweating a lot and particularly if you’re exercising outdoors in the sunshine, and if it’s a hot and humid day.
Another good indicator to help you avoid dehydration is to weigh yourself before and after you’ve completed your exercise routine. If the scale shows that you’ve ‘lost weight’, use this as a measure to drink more water before, during and after your future workouts. For every 500g of weight that you’ve ‘dropped’ on the scale, drink 500ml of water.
What to drink besides water
If we are not careful, extra calories can easily come in through the sweetened cold drinks, fruit juices, smoothies and powdered drinks we consume.
When drinking juices, choose fruit juices that contain pulp, rather than those that are made of concentrate or have had the pulp removed, and similarly add some of the fruit and vegetable pulp back into your juice if you make them at home, as this a source of fibre, which helps slow down the release of the sugar into the blood.
A nifty way to drink more liquids but less sugar is to dilute cold drinks and fruit juices with water or to add crushed ice. Try to replace some high-sugar drinks with homemade ice tea and herbal teas – caffeine-free teas don’t act as diuretics and may replace your water intake. If you find the taste of water too plain, flavour it with herbs, fruit pieces, or fruit ice cubes that contain blueberries, raspberries, chopped strawberries or grapes.
When drinking alcohol, drink a glass of water (instead of a cold drink, juice etc.) between each unit of alcohol; and opt for alcohols and mixers that are lower in calories and sugars like red wine and whiskey, or go syrup- and sugar-less (or with half the added amount) when ordering cocktails.
You also can’t go wrong by carrying a reusable water bottle to fill up when needed – not only is it environmentally friendly, but it’s also the best way to cheers to your future health and wellness.
Check out her website Kim’s Nutriton to find out more about Kim and her online nutrition programmes.