Most people you come across in the gym, know that they need to keep hydrated in order to stay energised.
But it can be easy to underestimate how much hydration can affect your workout. It doesn’t help that there are so many contradictory statistics about how much water we’re meant to drink each day, and how frequently.
Now the question is what are we supposed to believe?
Tranquillity 360 fitness thought it was time to set the record straight. Here’s our definitive guide on how you can stay hydrated before, during and after a workout.
Effects of dehydration on the body
You’d be forgiven for believing that only considerable dehydration can have a detrimental effect on exercise; we’re talking headaches, excessive perspiration and general aches.
But did you know that a mere 2% reduction in fluids can result in a 10-20% degradation in performance? That means your performance can be sapped even when you don’t feel dehydrated at all.
The tell-tale signs of dehydration are thirst and dark-coloured urine. It can also cause digestive issues and constipation, and can even make you feel hungrier, because a dehydrated brain confuses hunger and thirst. When you spot any of these symptoms, your body needs some water.
The amount of water you should drink per day depends on several variables, not least the level of activity you plan to undertake. For example, a marathon runner will obviously have different requirements to somebody who is doing a 30-minute weights session in the gym.
The weather can also make a big difference, too, since you’ll sweat a lot more in warmer conditions.
General guidelines suggest that you should drink at least 2 litres of water per day. You should increase this by 500ml per hour of intense training and increase this again if you tend to sweat a lot when you exercise.
How much water should You drink before exercising?
This is where a lot of people come unstuck. Most people are good at taking water to the gym with them for a mid-workout refreshment, but it’s even more important to make sure you’ve topped up your fluid levels prior to your session.
You're most dehydrated when you wake up, so start the day with a tall glass of water and avoid coffee if you can. Having drinks regularly throughout the day will make a huge difference in your energy levels by the time you’re ready to work out.
Getting enough water on board when you’re in full flow might be easier said than done, but it’s imperative that you don’t allow your levels to dip.
A short water break between sets or during quick breaks from cardio can help stave off exercise-induced dehydration, keeping you at your best for consistently high performance.
An easy way to ensure you get enough water is to set a timer -- on your phone or watch -- to go off every 15 minutes as a reminder to rehydrate. This is especially important if you’re doing exercise over a long period of time, such as training for a marathon.
What should you drink during a workout?
Not that we were expecting you to have a gin and slimline tonic on-the-go between each set of assisted pull-ups, but nevertheless, it’s worth reiterating that plain old water is the most suitable drink to have on hand during your workout.
Of course, it all depends on the length and intensity of your workout.
Electrolytes are minerals that, amongst other things, regulate the level of water in your body. A regular gym session probably doesn't require a fancy sports drink but long-distance runners or those who train with great intensity would do well to replenish their electrolytes.
What to eat and drink after a workout
While many of us fail to take hydration into account before our workouts, even more of us let ourselves down after an exercise session.
Drinking 50% more fluid than you lost through sweat will help to boost your recovery. The fastest way to recover is sipping small amounts of water regularly, rather than guzzling down litre after litre in one go.
You should also ensure that 20% of your water intake comes from solid foods. Opting for foods that are naturally high in water content -- like cucumbers, tomatoes and celery -- can help you recover more quickly post-workout.
4 ways to spot dehydration during your workout
As we’ve already alluded to, our bodies can play tricks on us when our fluid levels start to drop. We have four tips to help you recognise the effects of dehydration before it starts to become a problem.
1. Check your muscles
Muscle cramps are a giveaway that you’re not hydrated enough. If you start to feel cramp coming on, take a break to have a drink. Don’t guzzle it down; instead, opt for short, small sips over a few minutes.
Once you’re refueled, ease yourself back into your exercise, being careful not to overdo it: it can take a while for your muscles to fully rehydrate.
2. Don’t ignore a dry mouth
One of the first signs of dehydration is dry mouth. As soon as your mouth starts feeling a little dusty, get a drink. Ignoring dry mouth can seriously impact your performance.
3. Pinch yourself
Skin elasticity, which is the skin’s ability to change shape and return to normal, is a giveaway of your hydration levels (though it’s not 100% reliable for everyone). Gently pinch the skin on the back of your hand and hold for a few seconds. If the skin takes a while to return to its normal position when you let go, you may be dehydrated.
4. Stop if you feel dizzy
Feeling lightheaded during a workout is a sign of dehydration and a signal to take your workout down a notch.
Though willpower sometimes makes us want to push ourselves through a few more reps or another mile, feeling dizzy is an indicator that your brain isn’t getting the oxygen it needs. You should stop exercising the moment you feel dizzy; powering through a dizziness spell can be dangerous.
Conventional wisdom about how people should eat, exercise, and look is often negative, self-defeating, and downright degrading and may I add disgusting. Magazines and over-hyped media encourage people to eat less and offer numerous "secrets" about how lose weight. Because, as you know with the rapid rise of social media and reality TV people happiness is inexorably tied to the number on the scale.
Most Fitness professional and dietitians are often given quick fixes, crash diets, cleanses, and other absurd fitness advice. I have seen other fitness professional telling people, just do more time on the step mill and make more kale salads, eating so much.
It's no wonder so many people are miserable, overly exhausted from marathon workouts, and starving from constantly trying to eat fewer and fewer calories. Sad to say, but people are frustrated, confused, and tired of constantly looking for a simpler solution.
Most of the common fitness "advice" for people these days are revolves around following a strict diet and rigid gym schedule, and meticulously counting every gram of carbs, fats, and protein that crosses our lips. Unfortunately, most people can't practice such an inflexible regimen for the long term without some negative consequences, and the fact is that it’s not one size fit all.
I know this because I have ventured over to the dark side and tried several "diets" with the hope of building a better-looking body when I just started out in fitness many years ago. Once I finally came to my senses and got back to sane and simple nutrition principles, I had to correct obsessive-eating habits. After a bit of time, patience, and consistency, I found my way back, to good health and a better physical performance.
I can tell you than once you replaced your worries and doubt about what you see or hear over the internet, you began to follow positive, motivating, empowering fitness principles.
Here are three basic steps to get you going:
Embrace the Truth That You are Awesome Right Now
Even if you're overweight, have just started working out, or still have a long road ahead of you, you can still choose to be happy with where you are right this moment. Forget about planning to be happy once you reach your main goal in the distant future. Having a great body means living every day to the fullest and making healthy decisions because you love yourself as you are this very moment.
Eat Real Food
Eat filling, delicious meals that make you feel great. Don't apologize for eating, and don't force yourself to eat foods you don't like just because they're supposedly good for you. There are tons of delicious, all-natural, healthy foods available, so eat the ones you like.
Despite what some "diet" principles would have you believe, eating whole food is quite simple. All you need to do is apply some common sense and resist the temptation to dwell over the minutiae.
Build your diet around lean protein, good carbs, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, herbs and spices, and healthy fats like nuts and seeds.
If you keep your nutrition guidelines simple and stress-free, you'll be much better off and much more likely to stick to them throughout your life.
You'll get more out of your workouts. Muscle, after all, needs to be fed to grow stronger. Delicious and filling real-food meals are not complicated, especially if you follow some well written recipes, and if you have doubt get some help from a good dietitian, a good dietitian would always encourage you to eat.
Focus on Performance
Instead of working out with the sole purpose of changing how your body looks, focus exclusively on what your body can do and work toward constantly improving your performance in the gym. We all want to look as great as we feel, and that's one of the huge perks of training for performance: building a great-looking body is a tremendous side-effect.
To get to your ideal body, trained for function, practicing some lifting, some boxercise and one of my favourites, sign for a run weather its 5k or 10k and train towards it. Follow this lead and focus on performance-based goals.
Most people want a pair of arms, firm legs and tight core that look great, but instead of doing military presses, biceps curls, and triceps extensions, squats ect. to get them, try working toward performing a few bodyweight chin-ups and 10 or more push-ups with perfect form. These exercises build your arm muscles, as well as the muscles in your back and chest, building true functional strength.
By the time you achieve those goals, your arms will look incredible and you'll have developed some real upper-body muscle strength in the process.
One of the other awesome things about training for performance is that you have tons of variability in your workouts. Use the whole gym. For instance, you can train primarily with bodyweight workouts, you can use a combination of barbells and dumbbells, you can use kettlebells, and you can use strongman lifts. Ultimately, the possibilities are endless!
Remember, always try to build the strongest, most awesome version of yourself. When you focus on that goal, the bonuses will include a leaner, shapelier, better-looking body. You also should have a lower resting heart rate, stronger bones, and more athletic skills.
Weather you are working out to build muscle, or losing weight, your body burns up a lot of carbohydrate as fuel to aid your goals, lots of mineral are lost through sweat during process, which will leave you are feeling weighed down and sluggish, you might even feel as if you don’t even want to go to the gym, the best way to overcome this to have a detox drink, that can help cleanse your body of all that free radicals, that leave floating around and make you feel rejuvenated.
For many years, once per month I’ve added detox drinks to my health regime because as toxins leave my body, I feel clear-headed and energized. This simple recipe am sharing with you don’t require a blender or juicer, it is simple and easily accessible.
This is a simple beverage recipe that takes only minutes to prepare and includes key ingredients for natural detoxification, including lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. It’s both refreshing and energizing, so give it a try today for the little boost we all need from time to time.
If you’re looking to stock up on some muscle or trim down to fit into your favourite jeans again, then why not try these protein shake recipes to complement your protein powder, maximise flavour and enhancing results.
Not only will these delicious breakfasts and meal-replacement protein smoothies, boosting pre- and post-workout protein shakes, but these great-tasting proteins shake recipes can help you power through your days.
The Perfect Fruity Protein Breakfast Smoothie
This is the protein smoothie recipe you can use to make a delicious and nutritious breakfast shake every single time. Combine Tranquillity 360 Fitness Protein Powder with fresh fruit and milk for a tasty start to the day.
Simply blend all the ingredients together, pour into a glass, and enjoy.
Kick Coffee and Cacao Smoothie
This coffee and cacao breakfast shake have the perfect blend of protein, carbs and fats with a coffee wake-up kick. Try.
Simply blend all ingredients and serve over ice.
Wake Me Up Fat Burning Smoothie
With the bittersweet matcha and protein powder in combination with spicy root ginger and fresh sweet peaches, this smoothie was made to make you feel revitalised all morning while burning fat.
Chop the peaches and place into blender, along with matcha whey, ginger a
On The Run Breakfast SmoothieThis breakfast smoothie makes the perfect make-ahead breakfast for those mornings when you just don’t have time to make a proper breakfast. Ideal for Athletics and Gym lovers.
Simply add all ingredients to the blender and process until smooth. Pour into a glass or shaker and top with a couple of extra dates and nuts if you’re feeling fancy.
This blog is updated by Tranquillity 360 fitness personal trainers, as well as other guest bloggers.