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The Importance Of Fluids!

It's not unusual to lose a couple of pounds of water during exercise. Especially when considering cardio, in only two hours of exercise more than five pounds of water can be lost.

Water's Importance

For top results, gains, and athletic performance, water is essential. It is the primary component in most cells and performs many vital functions, including transporting nutrients to cells and removing waste by-products. By taking heat from the cells and transporting it to the skin where it is then dispersed in the air, water also acts as a temperature regulator. While taking part in heavy exercise, the heat is released through what we all know as sweating. It's not unusual to lose a couple of pounds of water during exercise. Especially when considering cardio, in only two hours of exercise more than five pounds of water can be lost. Since a loss of fluid equaling just 2% of you body weight can seriously impair muscle function, you must avoid dehydration and its potentially harmful effects.

Blood plasma has a limited capacity to carry nutrients (oxygen, fats, glucose, protein, etc.) to the working muscles and to remove the by-products of metabolism (lactic acid, heat, carbon dioxide, etc.) when water is lost. Blood flow to the extremities also decreases when sweat loss greatly exceeds fluid replacement. For bodybuilders, if these conditions occur, all of your supplements wont get where you want them to get and you won't get full pumps in your muscles because not enough blood will get there. This means that all of your hard work was just thrown out. Blood volume will also actually decrease if heavy sweating continues. As a result, the heart will have to work harder to get blood around the body which means it will start beating faster. In extreme conditions when these conditions continue the body temperature will also keep rising to dangerous levels and heat exhaustion or heat stroke may occur.

Signs of Heat Illness

Heat Exhaustion - We generally characterize heat exhaustion by a lack of blood circulation to the extremities. Some signs are weakness and dizziness with the skin feeling cold and clammy when touched. Blood pressure will generally be lower than normal yet body temperature is around normal. Other symptoms that are common are vomiting, restlessness, and a headache.

When these characteristics are observed, you should get to a cool area and stay calm. Get in a head-low position (so blood can get to the brain) and loosen clothing. Take in fluids and continue to stay in the position I mentioned earlier. Symptoms should start going away, but if they don't contact a medical personal.

Heat Stroke - This is a heat illness that is even more dangerous than heat exhaustion and can be fatal. This is caused when the bodies heat regulating mechanisms fail. The signs of this illness may include confusion, tingling, cessation of sweating, numbness, and headache. Muscle convulsions may also occur in more extreme cases. The pulse rate as well as breathing will be very rapid and pupils are often dilated. The body temperature will often exceeded 105 degrees and blood pressure will be elevated.

When these symptoms are present, the person with them should be cooled down immediately and stripped of clothing. A bathtub filled with ice water is ideal for this. When the temperature falls back below 103 degrees remove the person from the water. If a tub is not available use what is for cooling him/her and contact the hospital immediately.

*This is a very critical condition that should not be taken lightly. If this occurs, make sure that even after the person is better that they stay in touch with the hospital for at least a weak to watch for signs of kidney failure.

Replace Lost Water

Water Lost in Sweating - Since it is impossible to not lose water in sweating, measures to replace the water should be taken. Even partial replacement of water will minimize overheating and circulatory collapse threats. Some rules to follow when taking part in intense physical exercise (cardio workout) are:

  • Drink 13-20 ounces 15 minutes before exercise.
  • Drink 4-5 ounces every 20 minutes during the ride.
  • By weighing yourself every morning after an intense workout you can be sure that there are no rapid weight losses due to dehydration.
Also consider that once you are thirsty you have already lost quite a bit of fluids, so try and get in a habit of drinking before you get thirsty.

Electrolyte Drinks - Like water, which empties from the stomach quickly, some studies have shown that the addition of substances known as carbohydrate polymers don't significantly decrease the rate of gastric emptying of fluids. This makes electrolyte drinks very valuable for all athletes including bodybuilders! There are many commercial drinks that now use these polymers in them. These are especially helpful because they can also fuel your energy needs at the same time your getting hydrated.

Although water might be the primary substance lost in sweat, it's not the only one. There are also small amounts of mineral salts known as electrolytes that are secreted in sweat. There are many studies that are out that support that the loss of electrolytes may be one of the primary reasons of muscle cramps and fatigue.


Hopefully after reading this article you now understand the importance of fluids to athletes and bodybuilders. You are also now aware of illness that can occur when not enough liquids are being consumed so you can avoid them occurring in you, and maybe even be able to help someone who is suffering from them.

*Jeff G*