The importance of drinking water should not be underestimated. Our Resident Nutritionist Steph Lowe tells us that hydration is essential for every cellular function within the body, including an efficient metabolism and aiding in optimal exercise recovery. So, let’s get started.
What's one amazing thing you can do for your body first thing in the morning? You guessed it -- reach for a glass of H20! Waking up after (hopefully) 8 hours of sleep, your body tends to be a bit dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water when you wake up and before you eat or drink anything else, can rehydrate your body and aid digestion, helping kick start your day.
What about when you are exercising? When it comes to exercise, Steph recommends consuming at least two litres of water a day, and especially during exercise when you should aim to consume around 500ml every hour. Do keep in mind, if this is a new routine to consider in your health journey, you may find yourself going to the bathroom regularly (and that's totally normal!). To minimise this, simply add the juice of half a lemon, which is the highest electrolyte-containing fruit, or even a pinch of pink/rock salt to aid in absorption of the water going into the body.
Feeling like you can’t fit any more water in? If you find it challenging to adjust to this new volume of water intake, or find yourself getting bored of water, Steph recommends caffeine-free herbal teas as another great way to stay hydrated. Fluids that should be reduced in consumption, and eventually eliminated in lieu of health and wellness, are soft drinks and anything high in refined sugar (this includes diet drinks too!) Artificial sweeteners have high levels of chemical interference and are not considered real foods. Intake of too many high-sugar drinks can lead to poor blood sugar levels and unnecessary cravings for junk food (we don’t need that!)
Love sugary drinks? If you're accustomed to drinking sugary drinks, then going cold turkey can be difficult since many diet drinks are caffeinated and highly addictive. Like quitting sugar suddenly, withdrawal symptoms can occur with fatigue, headaches and cravings, but having a prepared plan of attack to combat the cravings can aid in getting through the symptoms within four to seven days! Steph recommends weaning yourself off sugar-based drinks over the course of a week or two by substituting with small amounts of green or black tea if you need that caffeine hit.
Heard a lot about coconut water? Coconut water is another great and tasty option to stay hydrated. The natural sugars and electrolytes in coconut water are ideal during or after an intense exercise session to replenish the body. However, Steph warns to be mindful as coconut water is high in potassium and contains minimal sodium, so it should not be your sole means of replacing sweat losses. In addition, one serve contains 15g of carbohydrates, so it is not to be treated like water (a couple of times a week is ample).
What about sport drinks? Sports drinks tend to be high in artificial sweeteners, preservatives and colours and there are much better options for staying hydrated during and after exercising. Below is Steph’s fantastic homemade recipe that is a healthier alternative than your typical convenience store sports drink:
Combine all of these ingredients in a water bottle and enjoy. This is a perfect option for a longer training session, such as a 90-minute bike ride. For shorter sessions, a simple mix of lemon and salt water is adequate to keep you hydrated.
When are the best times to get hydrated? Even with water intake, it's what you do with that intake that really counts. Steph tells us, it's more efficient to drink as much as you can during the day so that your sleeping pattern isn't disrupted in the evening. We recommend curbing your water intake from 7pm onwards. It's best to not drink as much during meals, which can cause stress on your digestive system. The easiest way to gradually raise your intake is to sip water through a straw at 15 minute intervals. Setting an alarm will also help to remind you when you should have some water, which can be useful when you're running errands, busy at work or travelling!
Go on, take a sip now!