Drinking a healthy amount of water is vital to your health and you must get into the habit of doing so if you wish to optimize your bodybuilding workouts.
The human body is anywhere from 55% to 78% water depending on body size. From head to toe, every cell in your body needs water to regenerate and to adequately flush out waste.
Here are some of water’s many functions:
- Transport nutrients and oxygen into cells
- Moisturize the air in lungs
- Help with metabolism
- Protect vital organs
- Help organs to absorb nutrients better
- Regulate body temperature
- Protect and moisturize joints
Let’s look more closely at the many ways in which water optimizes health, strength and productivity.
Better Thinking: Your brain consists of 90% water. Thus staying hydrated helps you think better, be more alert and more concentrated. If you do not supply enough water to your body, your brain cannot function well, and you will get a headache or even migraine.
Increased Strength and Endurance: Muscle consists of 75% water. If you don’t remain hydrated, your muscles will not perform up to par.
Enhanced Workouts: Drinking water regulates your body temperature. That means you’ll feel more energetic when doing bodybuilding. Water also helps to fuel your muscle.
Better Digestion & Elimination: Drinking water helps in digestion and, along with getting sufficient fiber naturally with a vegetarian diet, staying hydrated aids in proper elimination, reducing constipation – a killer of healthy workouts.
Less Cramps and Sprains: Proper hydration helps keep your joints and muscles lubricated, so you’ll less likely get cramps and sprains from your workouts.
Enhanced Health: Drinking plenty of water improves your immune system and helps fight against flu and other ailments like kidney stones and heart attack. Add some lemon to your water and you will experience even less ailments like respiratory disease, intestinal problems, rheumatism and arthritis etc. and therefore have more time to spend at the gym.
Less Fatigue: Blood consists of 83% water. By remaining hydrated, you will get less sluggish. Also, water is used by the body to help flush out toxins and waste products from the body. If your body lacks water, your heart needs to work harder to pump out the oxygenated blood to all cells and the rest of the vital organs and you will feel exhausted and quickly burn out during workouts.
Greater Weight Loss: Drinking water helps you lose weight because it flushes down the by-products of fat breakdown. And drinking water reduces hunger making it an effective appetite suppressant so you’ll eat less. Plus, water has zero calories.
Reduced Risk of Cancer: Some studies show that drinking a healthy amount of water may reduce the risks of bladder cancer and colon cancer. Water dilutes the concentration of cancer-causing agents in the urine and shortens the time in which they are in contact with bladder lining.
Younger Looking: Water helps to replenish skin tissues, moisturizes skin and increases skin elasticity making you look younger when your skin is properly hydrated.
Few of us drink enough water daily and may be unknowingly chronically dehydrated. The harmful effects of dehydration include:
- Muscle cramps
- Irregular blood pressure
- Kidney problems
- Dry skin
- 20% dehydrated – Risk of death
How do you know if you are dehydrated?
Here are some of the symptoms that you need more water:
- Thirst: Thirst is the most obvious sign that you’re already dehydrated. It is always a good practice to drink more water before you feel thirsty at which time you may already be dehydrated.
- Dark Urine – Dark Yellow or Orange in Color: Urine is generally pale yellow to clear when you have sufficient water intake. Dark color or strong smell indicates that you need to drink more water.
- Dry Skin: Skin is the largest body organ and requires its share of water. If you don’t drink enough, your skin will be dry.
- Hunger: Most people mistake hunger for the indication to eat more, when you may be dehydrated. So before you have your meal, down a glass of water.
- Fatigue: As water is a source of energy and gives you a boost in energy, feeling sluggish may be a sign you need to drink more.
How Much Water Do We Need?
How much water should you drink a day to avoid dehydration? Experts suggest drinking 8 glasses of water a day. But this is just a general guess. In fact, how much water to drink per day will vary depending upon a number of factors like your health, activity, climatic conditions, physical size, weight, environment, etc.
- You lose quite a lot of water through sweating, exhaling and urinating.
- In hot weather, you tend to lose more water through sweating and in cold condition, you tend to urinate more.
- In the event of sickness like flu and diarhea, you tend to lose fluid.
- When you weigh more, your body needs more fluid for muscle, organs, bone etc.
A better recommendation is to drink at least half your body weight (128 pounds equals 8 glasses of water, or 64 ounces) throughout the day. Don’t however, drink liquid with meals as this dilutes your digestive juices and reduces your ability to properly break down food.
What to Drink?
Pure filtered, or distilled water is your best bet for staying hydrated. Other liquids to stay hydrated include the following.
If you juice fruits and vegetables, you will get pure water from cucumbers, celery, watermelon (juiced with the rind, blended with all but the outer skin), tomatoes and other juicy fruits and vegetables which naturally hydrate and you can relax the 8 glasses a day rule.
Coconut water is one of the earth’s best natural hydrators and an excellent drink before and after workouts. For a real treat, pound a small hole into a Tai young coconut, put in a straw and drink up.
Containing ECGC, a powerful antioxidant, green tea is considered a superfood. A recent Japanese study on green tea found that men who drank green tea regularly had lower cholesterol than those who didn’t, while cancer researchers in Spain and the United Kingdom have shown that ECGC can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Running from sweet to spicy, herbal teas come from various healing herbs or herb combinations and can be sipped all day long. They are rich in antioxidants, and vitamins, particularly Vitamin C. Many have strong healing abilities for various organs and medical conditions – milk thistle for the liver, for instance, or ginger and peppermint for stomach ailments. Herbal teas such as chamomile help to calm the nervous system.
As previously mentioned, soy milk is a healthy, cheap, and easy to find milk substitute. Each brand of soy milk is slightly different, so try different ones out to see which suits your taste buds best.
Not as thick as soy or dairy milks, rice milk has a somewhat translucent, watery consistency and less protein than soy or almond milk. But most people adjust to the different texture. It is slightly sweet and works well in dessert recipes or thrown in cereal but not for savory or salty dishes, such as mashed potatoes. Shake rice milk before using it.
Made from almonds or other nuts, nut milks have a creamy consistency similar to soy milk and a nutty taste perfect for making vegan fruit smoothies or other creamy drinks and desserts. Shake almond milk well before using it.
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