Our bodies are made up of a large proportion of water, in men that equates to an average of 60% of body weight and in women 50-55% body weight. Drinking the right amount of water is important for a number of functions in the body, including:
regulating body temperature
transporting nutrients and compounds in the blood
acting as a lubricant and shock absorber in joints
removing waste products from the body
for our metabolism
We lose water through natural body functions throughout the day for example from breathing, sweating and through urine. It’s therefore important to keep our levels of water regularly topped up throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
How do you know if you’re dehydrated?
Common signs of mild dehydration include – dry mouth, headaches or dizziness, poor concentration, tiredness and needing to go to the toilet fewer than 4 times per day; urine will often be darker and have a stronger odour too.
Sweating through exercise can also cause dehydration so making sure you drink more during and around any exercise is very important. On the whole, for any moderate exercise water is fine for rehydrating and most people will not require a sports drink to stay hydrated. For anything over an hour of high intensity exercise, then drinks containing sugar and electrolytes may be better at replacing the extra fluid lost as sweat.
Very often we tend to eat when in fact we’re thirsty. Keeping yourself well hydrated ensures you can determine when you are actually hungry so you’re not eating unnecessarily.
How to include enough water each day
Current guidelines suggest drinking 6-8 glasses of fluids per day but you may need more depending on other factors such as the weather and how hot it is, your level of physical activity and your age.
There are many sources of fluids that can count towards your 6-8 glasses per day. Here’s a run-down of different types and fluids and whether they can count towards your intake:
Water – the gold standard when it comes to fluid consumption! Water is low calorie and doesn’t contain any hidden sugars. Ideally the bulk of your daily fluids should be coming from pure, plain water.