Ensuring correct hydration at the gym is extremely important for all women who exercise regularly. That's why here at Curves we wanted to write a complete guide!
Tips for staying hydrated at the gym
On average water makes up 60% of our bodyweight and is essential for the body to work properly. That's why when you're working out the amount of liquids in your body must always be in perfect balance. But how can you make sure you are hydrating correctly?
- Always bring a bottle of water with you so you don't risk drinking something that's less healthy and hydrating!
- Drink water or an electrolyte drink (containing sodium, magnesium and potassium) within 30 minutes of physical activity so you don't miss out on the benefits
- Make sure your diet contains foods that are naturally rich in water like fruit and vegetables
- What if you don't like the taste of water? You can add natural flavourings with strawberries, lemon, mint or cucumber! Or you can buy a water bottle with an infuser so you can also enjoy flavoured water when you're out and about.
What is body hydration and why it's important to keep your body hydrated
We often think that hydrating yourself just means drinking after physical exercise. In actual fact, body hydration is a very broad concept and starts long before you start working out.
What is the water balance of the human body
If you want to stay healthy you need to maintain a constant water balance, namely the inflow and outflow of water from the body, which represents 55-65% of our weight. In fact the body is programmed to maintain a constant body temperature, which it achieves through sweating and the physiological loss of water through the skin or the airways. This is why it is so important to restore the liquid lost after physical exercise, especially in the summer.
Main causes of dehydration
Even though the most common cause is not drinking enough, there are lots of reasons that can be linked to dehydration. Here are some of them:
- Menstrual cycle: when menstruating the body's oestrogen and progesterone levels can negatively impact the body's water level. During this time of the month women can benefit from drinking an extra glass of water.
- Low-carb diet: food like rice or pasta provides liquids that are useful for the body and help to retain fluids. For people looking to lose weight by eating fewer carbs, remember to drink water to stay hydrated.
- Stress: the adrenal glands are not only responsible for producing stress hormones, but are also in charge of maintaining the body's fluid levels and electrolytes. When they are overworked and we are under stress this can lead to the body becoming dehydrated.
- Low fruit and vegetable consumption: these foods are among the main sources of liquids and people can become dehydrated if they don't eat enough of them.
Effects of dehydration on the human body
When you feel thirsty that's the first sign that your body is already getting dehydrated and this can lead to other symptoms like sleepiness and a loss of concentration, dry and sticky mouth, sunken eyes and slight constipation.
Main risks of dehydration
When you drink a lot less than you should it reduces the amount of blood circulating around the body and this can quickly have a negative effect on major organs like the heart, the kidneys, the brain and the lungs. But it can also affect the eyes, muscles and skin.
How much water should we drink?
If you're asking how much water you should be drinking during the day, unfortunately the answer is not the same for everyone: it depends on many factors including bodyweight, and hydration needs can vary a lot from one person to the next.
However, there are some general guidelines. According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, women should consume around 2.7 litres of water per day. And the good news is that it's possible to achieve this level of water intake from the main sources of liquids, like beverages and foods.
How to understand if you need to drink more water
When you don't drink enough water your body starts sending you clear signals! Here are five which you should pay close attention to:
- Tiredness: if your body is not sufficiently hydrated it will be harder for blood to be supplied and it will be less oxygenated. And the effects will be felt by the whole body, causing frequent headaches, tiredness and a general feeling of exhaustion.
- Dry skin: when you are dehydrated water is released from skin cells to be transported to the vital organs, and as a result the skin becomes drier.
- Loss of concentration: our brains are around 90% water and that's why this is the first organ to show signs of dehydration. A lack of fluids in the brain influences memory, concentration span and even mood.
- Constipation: water also helps ensure regular bowel movements. That's why people suffering from constipation are always advised to drink more!
- Cramps: an imbalance in electrolytes can also lead to frequent muscle cramps.
- Dark urine: ideally urine should be transparent or pale yellow in colour. If it remains dark during the day even after drinking, it means you have not consumed enough water to dilute it.
Fruit and vegetables: which foods provide the most hydration?
Water is not the only source of hydration. Many types of foods are naturally rich in water and can be eaten to ensure we consume the correct quantity of fluids. But which ones?
Firstly there's cucumber, lettuce and celery, which work particularly well if you want to make the perfect vegetable smoothie. But radish, tomato, courgette, radicchio, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower also work well. The fruit with the highest water content include watermelon, melon, strawberries, oranges and mandarins.
Staying hydrated while working out at Curves
Here are our tips to ensure you remain hydrated during your training sessions this summer:
- Drink the night before: if you're going to exercise in the morning, drink a couple of glasses of water before going to bed and just after waking up the next day. And if you don't like the taste of water first thing in the morning, add a little of your favourite fruit juice.
- One glass at a time: a study published in Nutrition Reviews showed that your body absorbs liquids faster when you drink a whole glass of water at once. So why not follow this suggestion when taking a break during your training session!
- Avoid drinks that are dehydrating, such as those containing caffeine, like coffee and tea, as well as alcohol. They will make you lose fluids and interrupt your training session.
- Keep track of how much you drink: for example by filling up a whole water bottle for your session in the gym. That way you'll know exactly how much you've managed to drink at all times.
- Add electrolytes: potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. These minerals are important because they help you to keep your cells working properly to ensure you have enough energy to exercise. What foods can we find them in?
Potassium: spinach, grapes, blackberrries, carrots, potatoes, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, coconut water and avocados.
Sodium: most of us ingest more sodium than we need in our daily diet.
Calcium: milk, cheese, yoghurt, green vegetables, sardines, salmon and soya-based foods like tofu and edamame beans.