Optimize Hydration, STOP drinking only water

Proper hydration is very important, all other supplementation products can wait until you are properly hydrated.  It is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood. Although these basics can be followed by anyone, if you’re a professional athlete I assume you consult your hydration program with MD and you get blood tested often to get the best results you can.


Basic formula how much water to drink during your day.

Drink half of your bodyweight in pounds in ounces.
(this is very basic and can be used as a starting point, but as you’ll find out later in this article you’ll learn how to check your “WUT” status, how to rehydrate during and after your workout so you can adjust to your needs, you should also take into consideration how much do you work during the day and in what conditions – humidity and temperature)


Where water comes from ?

  • 50 % comes from drinking water
  • 30 % from fluids (coffee, tea, etc.)
  • about 20 % from food (depends on your diet) = most fruits and vegetables are 85 % or higher made out of water. Even eggs are 75 % water, meat is 65 % water
  • highly processed foods have low water content (baked,cooked,fried). Highly proccessed foods have also a high salt content, meaning you can have your daily needed dose of salt in one meal only and if you consume them in higher quantities you’re looking for a trouble (try to avoid highly proccessed foods if you can). Salt intake needed for you is of course connected to how much do you move and in what physical shape are you.




Preventing Hypohydration (a body water deficit) and it’s impact on your performance:

Being dehydrated by 1-2 % (meaning you’ve lost 1-2 % of your bodyweight) causes significant reductions in your physical performance.
Reduction in hydration increases Perceptual strain (you perform at the same level but if feels a lot harder). Many studies has shown that even a slight reductions in hydration can influence skill related performance (accuracy).


How much should you drink during your workout, training session ?

It requires individualisation, it depends on many factors like altitude where your session is performed, your clothing, male/female, air flow, the lenght of session, body size, exercise intensity, exercise duration, if you started overhydrated or dehydrated (will sweat more/less), heat and humidity.

Typical research recommendation on how much to hydrate during your workout:
Ounces = your bodyweight in lb divided by 30 gives you number in ounces you should drink per 15 minutes
Milliliters = 2 ml per kg of bodyweight per 15 minutes

Be aware that research shows that thirst during workout is poor indicator of your “hydration status”, that’s why it is better to stick to the numbers !


What should you drink during your workout ?

Avoid drinking fluid that is too dilute:
If you drink just water, it is too dilute and you end up just peeing out a lot of fluid without your body being able to pull the water into the cell. Instead of rehydrating your body you are putting water into your body and then peeing it right back out. You’re also turning off thirst censors and you’re not as thirsty, you’re peeing clear and you think you’re hydrated but you’re actually not.

Avoid drinking fluid that is too concentrated:
Meaning too salty, too much electrolyte (sodium, calcium, and potassium) in it. It can pull fluid into your intestens and you get diarrhea.

We need to replace sweat, not pure water !
The average person loses 1 L (2.2 pounds) of sweat in an hour and in that 1 L would be approx.:

Na+    Sodium

500 – 2000 mg

K+     Potassium

100 – 500 mg

Cl-     Chloride

500 – 3000 mg

Mg+ & Cl-      
Magnesium & Calcium

0 – 100 mg

The vast majority is sodium and chloride, general number is you lose usually sodium/chloride to potassium in a ratio 4 to 1.

We also need to look at the glucose (carbohydrates), which we burn during our workouts as well. We’re talking about 5-9 % (50 – 90 grams of carbs per 1 liter), try to”refill” mostly glucose and some fructose.


But on which side of the spectrum from the table higher are you ? Simple free solution is to look at your clothing. If your shirt dried and it is covered in white, you have a high salt content and you should add more salt to your hydration packets/drinks, if your shirt is clear you don’t sweat a lot of salt. For most people it is an average of 1000 mg of sodium, 250 mg potassium and 1000 mg of chloride that should be contained in your rehydration drink per 1 liter (33.81 ounces). If you lose 2 L during 2 hours of workout, double the amount, you get the idea.

You would be surprised but one of the best hydration products is milk. You will need to add some salt to it, but it is an excellent potassium source, it has a good amount of magnesium and sugar is almost ideal. (another great one is coconut milk)

You can create “hydration packets” for yourself, mix different products from different brands. Be careful because many rehydration drinks from known brands found in supermarkets are low in one of the areas we talked about, either low on Sodium, Potassium or they are low on Carbohydrates. Always read the actual values, the name “rehydration drink” on it’s cover is not enough.

We’ve talked about hydration during your workout, but many of you might say I do sport which does not allow me to take fluids during the workout, or it might be so intense that I might puke if I’d drink too much, or based on the numbers mentioned I would need to drink too much fluids during my workout and that would result in gastric problems. What is the solution ?
You start pre-hydrated and you take care of replenishing fluids after your workout.

  • drink at least a half of bodyweight of water in pounds in oz per day 


Replenishing fluids after the workout:
How to know how much exactly in liters/pounds you lose during your workout so you can individualize and re-hydrate yourself according to your needs ?
You simply weigh yourself naked before your workout and weigh yourself again once you came back. (keep in mind the fluids you took during your workout).
Be careful that there’s a tricky part, drinking just the amount you lost is not enough. Recommendation from doctors/scientists I found is to drink from 125 % to 150 % of fluids lost during your workout ! Not the same amount lost. It is because some of it will be always lost in urine.


You started paying attention to proper hydration of yourself, but how do you know if it is working ?

Use “WUT” method:

WUT is a device designed to simplify self-monitoring of day-to-day hydration status. The concept for WUT is based on sound scientific principles of hydration assessment and requires nothing more than a body-weight scale.
(Click here for full study on WUT)
(For more on WUT search online for Mr. Robert Kenefick and his work)


W is for “weight”: Athletes should maintain a day-to-day stable body weight when measured first thing in the morning so long as they have free access to food and beverage and replace sweat lost during exercise in accordance with fluid intake recommendations. Day-to-day body weight losses in excess of 1% may be an indication of dehydration. This is a day-to-day loss of 1 lb (0.45 kg) for an athlete who weighs 100 lb (45.5 kg), 2 lbs (0.91 kg) for an athlete weighing 200 lb (91 kg), or 3 lbs (1.4 kg) for an athlete weighing 300 lb (136.4 kg). Combine body weight information with thirst or changes in urine (see Venn Diagram) to be more certain.

U is for “urine”: It is normal to produce more urine when body water is high and less urine when body water is low. Therefore, urine volume is generally more related to body water or hydration level than to drinking pattern. So if sweat losses are high, less urine may be produced despite normal or even increased fluid intakes. Low urine production can cause it to be more concentrated and a darker color. A reduced daily urine frequency and darkening of urine color in a sample taken during the first urination of the morning may be an indication of dehydration. Combine urine information with information on thirst or body weight (see Venn Diagram) to be more certain.

T is for “thirst”: The absence of thirst does not indicate the absence of dehydration. However, the presence of thirst is an indication of dehydration and the need to drink. Therefore, if thirst is present, combine that with urine or body weight information (see Venn Diagram) to be more certain.

As soon as you wake in the morning check your “WUT status” to estimate your hydration status.
If you experience:
1 of 3 (lower weight, thirst, dark urine) you might be dehydrated.
2 of 3 you are likely to be dehydrated
3 of 3 you are very likely to be dehydrated


Summary of hydration:

1) first thing in the morning, drink a big glass of water
2) after you wake up watch your WUT “hydration status”
3) eat a lot of whole real food = veg. + fruits
4) salt your food liberally (unless you eat a lot of processed foods)
5) pre-hydrate before your workout
6) hydrate during your workout (your gut will adjust over time if it feels uncomfortable in the beginning)
7) drink from 125 % to 150 % of fluids lost during your workout afterwords (detract the amount of fluids taken during your workout)
(do bodyweight test to see how much weight you lost during workout session)
8) Trial and Error ! we are all different…


Take care, talk to you soon.



Disclaimer: Author talks about his experience only,  always consult with a licensed physician. This web site is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice should consult with a licensed physician.




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