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Understanding The Importance Of Proper Hydration For Maximum Gains In And Out Of The Gym!

Understanding The Importance Of Proper Hydration For Maximum Gains In And Out Of The Gym!

Many people underestimate the importance of water to the body. Read on to learn just how important water is to all of us.

Many people underestimate the importance of water to the body. Many people think it is just a "mom's tale", like you need to drink your milk. What is even more alarming is that even among the most experienced athletes, and this includes weightlifters (strength and bodybuilders) there is a huge gap in knowledge regarding the understanding as to why proper hydration is important for health, and for competitive success as well.

Water Is The Single Most Critical Nutrient

The human brain is composed of 95% water; blood is 82% water; the lungs are nearly 90% water. As one can imagine water is also the single most critical nutrient for health, growth, and development. It is not only the most important nutrient in the body, but also the most abundant. Water is critical to the balance of all the body's systems, including the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and muscles.

How important is this balance? A 2% drop in body water can cause a small but critical shrinkage of the brain, which can impair neuromuscular coordination, decrease concentration, and slow thinking. Dehydration can also reduce endurance, decrease strength, cause cramping and slow muscular response.

Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. How common a problem is this in the US? Estimates are that seventy-five percent of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration. This is alarming since proper hydration is required for maintaining healthy blood flow, proper kidney function, proper sodium/potassium /electrolyte balance and proper digestive functions.

Health Benefits

Water has many health benefits. Health benefits include the following.

Healthier Skin

Ensuring that you are properly hydrated will prove to be a far better solution to preventing or decreasing wrinkles than the many expensive and in most cases barely effective products being marketing to the public.

Healthier Teeth & Bones

Water also makes teeth and bone stronger. The additional fluoride added to our water supplies provides extra strengths and bone density to our teeth and bones.

Healthier Joints

Water is extremely important to the joints. Because the synovial fluid contains water, if you become dehydrated less synovial fluid is available to protect the joints.

This is very dangerous to a bodybuilder since bodybuilders are constantly sweating (losing fluids) and putting great stresses on their joints through intense workouts.

Healthier Mind & Body

Water is essential for nutrient absorption and many chemical reactions in the body for overall health, including proper brain function and improvements in memory.

Healthier Digestive System

Water also helps improve the digestive process and is imperative in maintaining a healthy urinary tract and digestive system.

Water is also important to properly metabolize food and drinking sufficient amounts of water will help reduce constipation.

Drinking sufficient amounts of water will help the body process and transport nutrients and excrete any waste products once they are metabolized.

This is very important for bodybuilders who often increase this water requirement because they consume much larger amounts of food, vitamins and supplements, while also increasing the amount of water lost through sweat (working out) and a high metabolism (caused by increased exercise and more lean body mass).

Reduces Fatigue

Although water does not provide energy in the same way carbohydrates and fat do, it plays a very important role in energy transformation.

Since water is the medium in which all energy reactions take place. If you become dehydrated you will become lethargic, can experience cramping and endurance and strength performance will suffer. In fact, athletes that do become dehydrated often find reduced performance in the days following.

Helps In Weight Loss

Water can suppress the appetite naturally and increases the body's ability to metabolize stored fat.

Studies have shown that a decrease in water intake will cause fat deposits to increase, while an increase in water intake can actually reduce fat deposits.

This is thought to occur because a reduction in water decreases the efficiency of the kidney's, which results in some of the kidney's functions being shunted to the liver.

Since one of the liver's primary functions is to metabolize stored fat into usable energy for the body, it metabolizes less fat while performing functions normally performed by the kidney's. This results in less stored fat burned, and a reduction in weight loss.

Reduces Fluid Retention
water, it perceives this as a threat to survival and begins to hold on to every drop.

Water is stored in extracellular spaces (outside the cell) which can result in swollen extremities (feet, legs and hands).

Diuretics offer a temporary solution, but can cause more harm than good if abused. Why? Because they will cause the elimination of the water, along with essential nutrients.

Also the body will again perceives this conditioning as a threat and replace the lost water at the first opportunity, causing bloating and fluid retention once again. Drinking plenty of water will eliminate this problem.

Increases Energy

Although water does not provide energy in the same way carbohydrates and fat do, it plays a very important role in energy transformation.

Since water is the medium in which all energy reactions take place. If you become dehydrated you will become lethargic, can experience cramping and endurance and strength performance will suffer. In fact, athletes that do become dehydrated often find reduced performance in the days following.

Helps Build Muscle

Water is needed to transport nutrients to your cells and transporting waste out of the body. Water helps form the structures of protein and glycogen.

In order to move and flex your muscles, you need water. If your body is dehydrated, your muscles will be deprived of electrolytes and cramp. Since muscles are controlled by nerves, without the proper water and electrolyte balance muscle strength and control will also be impaired.

It is essential that you stay hydrated if you want to build muscle and experience optimal performance in the gym.

Increases Muscle Tone

Muscles are made primarily of water. Dehydration can prevent muscles from properly contracting, reducing muscle tone.

Increasing water intake will help prevent muscle cramping, improve the strength of muscle contractions and quicken muscle response. Preventing dehydration will also help prevent sagging skin, since water will fill out the muscles, resulting in clear, healthy and resilient skin.

Reduces Risk Of Disease

Studies have shown that increasing daily water intake has shown to decrease the risk of colon cancer by 45%, reduce the risk of bladder cancer (by 50%) and it can potentially even reduce the risk of breast cancer. It is also believed that water may prevent kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

Other Known Benefits

Water also aids circulation, and helps regulate the body's cooling system

Water & Athletic Performance

Many people are unaware of how water affects performance. Even being slightly dehydrated can cause poor performance, and is often overlooked. Improper hydration can result in muscle cramping, decreased strength and reduced endurance. All severely impeding athletic performance.

Fake Signal?

By the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. Once dehydrated endurance is diminished, strength can drop, and the effect can last into the following day(s). Instead of relying on a signal, drink water at regular intervals regardless if you're thirsty or not.

Common Causes of Water Loss

  • Caffeine/alcohol consumption (diuretics)
  • Increased Stress. Can cause water loss.
  • Hot environment, increases sweating.
  • Increased physical activity (water loss from sweating)

Other Reasons To Increase Water Intake

  • Dieting
  • Large food intake (common to bodybuilders)
  • Increasing intake of vitamins, minerals. Increased sodium consumption. (Water intake will help the body excrete sodium and excess water stored)

How Much Water is Lost During Normal Body Functioning?

The average amount of water lost per day includes:

  • 16 ounces through respiration (average)
  • 16 ounces through invisible perspiration (more if sweat is visible)
  • 48 ounces through elimination

How Much Water Is Enough?

It is suggested that the average person (which is fairly inactive) requires a minimum of 8 to 12 cups of water per day. However, this amount is far too low for bodybuilders and other active people. Active people need much more to replace the fluid lost during exercise.

Depending on your size and perspiration rate, you lose about four cups of water per hour of exercise. If you are working out in a mild climate, you are probably losing about 1/2 gallon of water through perspiration.

If you are working out in a hot climate, you can easily lose a gallon or more by the end of your workout and cardio session. Bodybuilders need even more water to assist with the metabolism of the additional food and supplements consumed.

Hints To Stay Hydrated

The easiest way to stay hydrated is to drink at least eight ounces each hour you're awake. When you are in the gym and thirsty it is easy to drink 4 to 8 times that amount if you bring a wide mouth container with you for constant refilling.

Other hints: when you get in the car, when you go to a meeting when you sit down to watch TV, or sit down to eat a meal, always have something to drink with you.

Key Points To Remember For Bodybuilders & Athletes

  • You need to drink water before during and immediately following exercise. If you don't replenish your fluid loss during exercise, you will tire, and possible cramp. Performance will not be at your best.

  • You need to drink water immediately following exercise. If you don't replenish after exercise, your performance on the following days will suffer. Because you will be eating hard to gain muscle and be taking supplements as well I would suggest that you drink 1 1/2 to 3 gallons a day.

  • You need to drink water for health at regular intervals regardless if you're thirsty or not. By the time you are thirsty, you will already be dehydrated. It is essential that you stay hydrated if you want to build muscle and experience optimal performance in the gym.

  • Remember to drink at least 16 ounces of water after sleeping. 8 hours of sleep, especially in a dry and hot room can rob your body of needed water. You can easily wake up in a dehydrated state after a long sleep under these conditions.

  • Drink more water when caffeine is consumed. Caffeine is a diuretic. Water intake should be increased when excess caffeine (also found in thermo products) is consumed.

  • Drink water cold when possible. Cold water absorbs into the system more quickly than warm water. Additionally, some limited evidence suggests that drinking cold water can actually help burn calories.

  • Drink at least 1 1/2 gallons a day, up to 3 gallons a day as needed. As a minimum, if you are an athlete, or a bodybuilder your needs will be much higher than the average adult. Drink at least 1 1/2 gallons a day. Increase your intake according to the factors that require increased water intake as noted above.

  • Do not forget the impact that supplements and medicines may have on hydration. Some supplements (and medicines) require that you take more water for them to be effective (and because some may be diuretics or cause harm if enough water is not consumed. No2 products, and some antibiotics are good examples.

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About The Author

Jeff Behar - All Natural Bodybuilder! I started weightlifting in 1979 at the age of 13. Since then I've entered and won multiple competitions!

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