The Importance of Water
Often overlooked, water is arguably the second most important compound life is dependent on; oxygen being the first...
Claude Bernard, a 19th century physiologist, was the first to state that living organisms live in an external environment (air and water) but the cells that make up the organism live in an internal liquid environment (Rhoades and Tanner 2003). That was actually a very profound statement for the time since we now know that the human body is approximately 70% water.
Why Is It So Important For Bodybuilders To Consume Water?
Physical activity, such as bodybuilding, exposes people to a variety of influences that can lead to water loss. Everything from the duration and intensity of the workout, the environmental conditions in which it was performed and the type of clothing worn all greatly effect water loss (Sawka et al. 2007). Additionally, the individual's physical characteristics such as body weight, gender, age and metabolic efficiency also influence water loss.
In bodybuilding, the contracting of muscles during weightlifting produces metabolic heat. Since the body prefers to maintain a certain core temperature, this excess heat must be dissipated to the external environment. Hence exercise is always accompanied by sweating.
The loss of water through sweating can lead to changes in plasma volume resulting in the impaired ability to evacuate heat, increases in body temperature and decreased cardiac output (Ritz et al. 2003) In terms of the workout, dehydration results in a decrease in aerobic power and physical work capacity (Sawka and Montain 2000).
When you become dehydrated, you are not able to lift as much and workout at the same intensity as you would have if you were not dehydrated. It's estimated that a 2% reduction in body fluids can result in performance decreases of up to 15-20% (Kleiner 1999). This is also seen in general performance as employee wellness programs aim to educate employees on the importance of nutrition and drinking water. To have the best workout you can possibly have, you need to stay hydrated.
To maintain proper hydration, the individual bodybuilder must consider their own water balance defined as how much fluid is consumed versus how much is lost. Exactly how much water is required to maintain the proper balance is the subject of debate.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following for proper hydration, summarized in the next few sentences, and is perfectly suited to bodybuilding (Sawka et al. 2007). Before beginning your workout, pre-hydration should be considered based on urinary output and colour (darker indicates improper hydration) several hours ahead of time.
During your workout, the goal should be to prevent excessive dehydration. Unfortunately, no one-size-fits all amount of water to consume can be recommended. The individual must determine their own fluid replacement requirements. This can be assessed by monitoring changes in body weight due to sweat loss.
Frequently drinking during the workout is recommended at a rate of 0.4 - 0.8 liters per hour (~14oz per hour). Post workout, the goal is to fully replace any fluids. If time permits, consumption of meals and beverages will restore the proper fluid balance. If the food or beverages have sodium in them, it is even better.
Do You Get Enough Water?
Calculate Your Recommended Water Intake
Water is very important for many reasons. It has many health and performance benefits. These include:
✔ Keeping your organs functioning properly,
✔ Clearing Toxins,
✔ Reduces excess sodium from your body,
✔ Hydrates your muscle cells.
✔ It even liberates fat stores on your body so they are burned off as an energy source.
✔ Increased immune system function
✔ Lowered blood pressure
✔ Better muscle contractions
✔ Lowered chance of headaches
✔ Can help prevent the loss of memory also as we age.
✔ More lubrication within joints which can aid against things such as arthritis
As you can see there are plenty of Benefits that come along with consuming enough water, meaning that Dehydration will cause a major decrement in performance.
Water also plays a major role in cell volumisation. This is where nutrients are pulled inside of the muscle cell causing a multitude of reactions that leads to muscle growth. Water is very important in many processes including digestion, transportation and the absorption of nutrients.
Contained within your blood is around 82% water, 85% in brain cells and even your bones are made up of around 25% water too! I am sure these figures show you the importance of getting enough water each day. Surprisingly, through daily function even the average person will lose around 64 ounces of water per day. This amount of loss does not include if you are exercising or living in warmer climates. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, everyone should strive for eight cups of water each day, which amounts to around two quarts but everyone is individual.
You can also figure out how much water you need to drink by taking your bodyweight in pounds and dividing it by 2. This number is the amount of FL Ounces that you need. E.g. if you are a 150lb male then you need to consume a minimum of 75 FL ounces of water per day. Obviously, if you are an athlete or avid exerciser, you will need more water so you can replace what you lost during a workout.
If you would like to work out what this equates to in ml, simply use this handy converter. http://www.metric-conversions.org/volume/uk-ounces-to-milliliters.htm
When should you drink your water?
So now you know how much water you need to consume. It’s probably best we let you know the best time to consume it too to maximise its potential! Often people will wait until the brain signals thirst in order to drink which is actually too late. I usually advise this sort of guideline for clients in order to efficiently get their water intake throughout the day:
✔ 8-16 ounces before breakfast on top of the normal teas or coffees you may consume
✔ 8-16 ounces a couple of hours after breakfast
✔ 8-16 ounces after lunch
✔ 16 maybe more ounces before dinner
✔ 8-16 ounces an hour before bed
✔ Sip on water throughout the day if needed too.
Often, people who use medications such as Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Anadin etc. to suppress headaches can reduce the use of this medication purely by increasing their water intake. A good signal of your hydration is your urine. You will notice a difference in the shade of your urine throughout the day as you drink enough. Personally, I would aim until your urine is nearly clear then back off a little if you want an even simpler guideline.
Remember you will get water in some of the foods you eat during the day but also if you drink a high amount of caffeine or alcohol these can also act as diuretics and have a negative effect on your water consumption too. If you would like to get even more from your water consumption, why not try adding a flavoured BCAA instead of a cordial. We have a great selection on site, to take a look click HERE.
Hopefully, this article has been effective in seeing how many glasses of water you should consume per day on average and the benefits of drinking this amount of water would bring to your day to day goals and progression alongside just general wellbeing.