We’ve all heard before that 70% of our body composition is made up of water. So why do we forget to keep ourselves hydrated, especially as athletes? It only takes a small two percent loss of hydration to see low performance. Any more than that and we’re looking at very serious risks. Let’s take a dive into the extreme importance of hydration to the body.
Three Roles of Water
There are three major roles water plays in our body: structural, functional, and cooling. The structural role is how water is the main element of our tissues and cells. The functional role allows for nutrients to be transported around our body. Without water, we wouldn’t get our proteins, carbs, vitamins, etc., to the places they need to go to keep our body running. It also plays a part in disposing of toxins and waste. And finally, the cooling role is our body’s way of maintaining a regular body temperature through sweat.
Throughout each day, our bodies lose roughly half a gallon of water through urination, perspiration, and respiration. If you’re heavily exercising, the loss of water is even greater. There are more ways to rehydrate your body than drinking water. The food we eat can account for almost half a gallon of water, if you’re eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. The rest of the rehydration will come from any beverages you consume that day. Any excess water our body doesn’t need is eliminated in our urine. If the color of your urine is a light yellow, it means your body is well hydrated and the excess water is diluting your urine.
As a result of heavy respiration during a difficult workout, our body loses water at a much higher rate. If you’ve ever weighed yourself before a workout and saw a change immediately after, it’s due to loss of water in your body. By the same token, water is only able to be absorbed by the body at a capped rate. Therefore, drinking a gallon of water before your workout may sound helpful but it actually will just make you sick by having all that water sitting in your stomach, unable to be absorbed. Plan ahead and take sips of water regularly every few minutes before a workout.