Many people struggle more with hydration than with eating right. Consider this: healthy humans can live up to eight weeks without food, but might not survive more than three to five days without fluid. Water is essential for most bodily functions and even mild dehydration can have a negative impact on mental and physical performance.
When it comes to your fitness goals, not drinking enough water might actually result in a lower metabolic rate (i.e. it will take you longer to burn stored fat). Serious liver and kidney problems can also occur.
Although uncommon, it’s also possible to drink too much water. What’s the harm in this? Well, drinking too much water can cause headaches, insomnia, lethargy and also slow your fat burning.
How much water is enough?
Generally speaking, you should drink enough water throughout the day so you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colorless or light yellow. Ballpark recommendations are about 13 cups of water (about three liters) for men and about 9 cups (or 2.2 liters) for women. But be sure to take into account your activity level, your environment, and other factors such as consuming excess sodium or alcohol (both of which can dehydrate you).
Coffee, tea and hydration
Pay close attention to whether your coffee and tea come with extra ingredients like sugar. Many commercially sold products are pumped full of extras and they can completely sabotage your nutrition and fitness efforts. Get into the habit of finding out exactly what is in your beverages. If you’re unsure, ask us. We’re here to help.
Consuming small amounts of caffeine (usually up to about three cups coffee) can be okay and may even produce positive effects like elevated mood and more energy in some people in some people. For other people, even the smallest amount of caffeine is bothersome. Pay attention. Listen to your body. And limit yourself if you find you have adverse effects like insomnia, stomach upset, restlessness and irritability.
Keep in mind caffeine can dehydrate you. You may want to drink an extra glass of water for each cup of coffee or tea to stay hydrated.
Soft drinks, diet drinks & sports drinks
These are packed with unnecessary sugar. Yes, even the so-called sports drinks and health drinks. Our advice? Don’t drink them at all. They will simply spike your blood sugar, slow your metabolism and work against your fitness efforts.
Artificial sweeteners are not any better as they are linked to metabolic disorders. Your body thinks you’re about to ingest real sugar and starts the processes for metabolizing sugar, such as releasing insulin. As a result, you’ll experience a decrease in blood sugar, which will make you crave even more food.
Most commercially sold juices actually contain very little fruit or vegetable juice. They’re packed with sugar and synthetics that work against your fitness efforts. But even if you squeeze your own orange juice at home, consider this: Would you sit down and eat four oranges in a row? If you did, would you feel good? Probably not. It takes about four oranges to make one small cup of orange juice, and you’re stripping out all the flesh and fiber (so you just get the sugar). Remember, consuming sugar makes your blood sugar spike and will work against you if consumed in isolation or excess.
If you absolutely love orange juice, squeeze your own, have it as a treat occasionally in small amounts and drink it while eating fat and protein to minimize the adverse effects of the concentrated sugar.
If you choose to booze beware of the excess calories, especially in sugary drinks like cocktails and beer. The best choices for low impact alcoholic drinks are red wine and spirits. If you opt for spirits, have them neat, on the rocks or with water. Skip the mixers.
A couple of things to note:
- Excess booze stresses your liver, your pancreas and your brain
- Alcohol makes it harder for you to burn fat
- Alcohol dehydrates — aim for one glass of water for every drink you have
- If you choose to drink, drink in moderation
Cut alcoholic calories
Alcoholic beverages can come with quite a lot of calories. Let’s take a look:
Make water more interesting
Want to spice things up? Trying flavoring water naturally. Add fresh mint, cucumber, orange or lemon slices. Hot or iced tea (herbal or naturally spiced) can be nice, too!