This coming week is national Nutrition and Hydration week, so let’s take a look at hydration.
About 60% of your body weight is made of water. You need it for every single body function. As little as a 2% decrease in body water can lead to dehydration and performance detriments in sports. When your water levels decrease by higher levels like 3% or 4%, there are physiological changes that occur that may have health consequences, such as increased heart rate and body temperature.
So how much water do we need?
Well, the short answer is that everyone’s different; but we lose water every time we go to the toilet, every time we breath, etc. As a rule of thumb, given the British climate; we ideally want to drink about 30ml of water for every 1kg of body weight – which equates to 1 pint for every 3 stone. This needs to increase when we exercise or are in a warmer or drier environment (such as a heat wave. It should also be noted that children tend to have higher metabolisms, so they need approximately half again.
Bear in mind, that you don’t want all your water in one go, or you will flood your kidneys, and they’ll just pass it all out; so drink little and often through the day. 4 pints a day can be easily broken down as ¼Pt every hour for 16 hours.
What counts as “water”?
Well, any drink does; as do high-water content foods like soup, yoghurt or ice-cream.
It is also true that caffeine and alcohol both have a diuretic effect that can alter your personal need; that would depend on how strong the drink is. Quite honestly, caffeine and alcohol at strengths to actively count as negative hydration; doesn’t tend to come in portions that are worth counting for water intake anyway. As a rule of thumb, I wouldn’t count “real” coffee, energy drinks or spirits-strength alcoholic drinks when assessing water intake; but would count weaker drinks – whilst acknowledging that this is a fudge and that everyone is different.
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