It's all about water!
Updated: Oct 23, 2018
You think you know how important water is for your body but how much do you actually know about it?
Let's go over some facts together!
Did you know that water makes up nearly 60% of our total body weight?For example, a woman who weights 100 lbs is actually carrying around 60 lbs of water meanwhile a 200 lbs man is carrying around about 120 lbs of water! Crazy, right?
The amount of water weight we carry around is determined by many different factors: what is our body fat percentage, how much lean muscle mass do we have and our hydration status.
The reason water content depends on our personal body composition (the proportion between body fat and lean muscle mass) is because different cells contain different amounts of water!
Most people will always agree when I say drinking enough water daily is very important "but" they never do it because *insert list of excuses*. Staying properly hydrated is more important than just quenching your thirst. We only perceive "thirst" once the body has already lost 1-2% of body weight.
Water serves a host of important functions:
Water as a mean of transportation for substances Water is the universal solvent. It dissolves both organic and inorganic nutrients and transports them into or outside of our cells. It is vital for processes that go from respiration to muscle movement to digestion and waste removal. Water is also very important to the synthesis of proteins, glycogen and other molecules and for this reason it also affects recovery from exercise.
Water as a source of minerals The amount of minerals, such as magnesium, fluoride, iron, copper, zinc, found in water usually make a small, but definitely not negligible, contribution to the mineral nutrition of people. When the intake of a particular nutrient by the general population is marginal, the contribution by water may be important in preventing deficiency and ill health.
Water as a catalyst A lot of dissolved chemicals in the body are surrounded by water and this water presence is exactly what speeds up the interactions between chemicals and enzymes; interactions that would otherwise be impossible.
Water as a lubricant Another primary function of water in the human body is to serve as a lubricant. What does that mean? For example, water is found in our saliva and is also a substantial component in the fluid that surrounds our joints. Moreover, water surrounds structures such as the brain, spinal cord and eyes and creates a protection layer.
Water as a temperature regulator Since water is slow to change temperature and is efficient at storing heat, the amount of water in the body composition, 60 to 75%, is a natural temperature regulator. When the body temperature increases, the process of sweating is initiated. The evaporation from the skin cools the body and it lowers its temperature.
So how much water should I drink daily?
Here is the deal: since we learned that thirst is a poor indicator of hydration status, we need other strategies for staying hydrated. According to most literature, it is safe to recommend an average of 3 liters of fluid (= 12 cups) daily. If we make sure we eat whole foods, 1 liter (= 4 cups) comes from our food and this leaves us with 2 liters (= 8 cups) daily that should come from purposeful water intake. Now, I am not the type of person to go around with a jug of water. Not at the gym, not anywhere else. It is very uncomfortable and I am sure most of you will agree with me. If you are not the type of person to feel thirsty often and reach for the water bottle on their own, you will need extra reminders or other strategies to make sure you are properly hydrated, especially if you work out!
Keep in mind that water intake requirements vary based on different factors: if you live in a place where it gets very hot, you are most likely sweating a lot and excreting water and electrolytes faster than others. If you train hard, you water requirements are actually elevated by at least 500 ml (2 cups) per day.
Here are some easy strategies to remind you to stay hydrated:
Set an alarm on your phone for every hour or two;
Download an app that does that for you;
Make it a habit to always have water before or during meals;
Drink after every bathroom break;
Get a smart bottle that tracks your intake;
Get any bottle that isn't plastic and that you find FUN;
Challenge a friend to see who reaches their water goal for the day first!
Spice it up by adding lemon, mint, cucumber, berries or my favorite: pineapple!
Just get it done: when I am out and about for longer than expected and I buy a bottle of water, I make sure it's a small one and I try to drink it as fast as possible. This way I don't have to carry it around or think about it anymore; I only get to worry about finding a bathroom in about 1 hour.
Try some of these strategies and I guarantee that you will find at least one that works!