As with some of my previous tips this again sounds a little like stating the obvious, but it’s important that influential matters that affect our training and recovery are dealt with as a priority.
For this tip I specifically want to discuss the affect dehydration has on both our training and recovery, the focus of much of our time and thought. Please note that this is not an exhaustive summary, just an account of factors that may not immediately seem obvious but nevertheless are very much relevant.
So, how does not drinking enough water hinder our training? Essentially it can affect us in 4 critical areas:
1) Significantly slows our metabolic rate forcing energy levels to drop meaning adequate levels of intensity are impossible to achieve.
2) Blood flow to working muscles is severely hindered, meaning our heart is put under more pressure to pump harder. We subsequently lose all the benefits of increased blood flow, like the carrying of nutrients to the muscles (along with oxygen) and the removal of lactic acid which is the waste product of exercise; compromising our stamina and ability to smash through the pain barrier.
3) Numerous studies have found that we suffer from a notable drop in testosterone when dehydrated, which has a direct bearing on our levels of motivation, strength and intensity.
4) A drop in minerals such as magnesium (electrolyte imbalances) can inevitably lead to ‘muscle cramps’ where there is a sudden, painful and uncontrolled contraction of a muscle, preventing you from completing the required amount of training volume.
Moreover the compounding affects of further dehydration caused by exercising in a warm environment (this is becoming more relevant) can be particularly harmful and cause significant damage to the kidneys (kidney stones are not uncommon) and in severe cases, heat stroke and heart attack!
Moving on then, to what extent are compromising our recovery from remaining dehydrated? Here we face 3 major pitfalls:
1) When we think of recovery we no doubt think of food. But did you know that eating is actually a dehydrating activity? To assimilate/absorb all macro nutrients we need to bind said molecules with water so that they become stable in our bodies. Failure to source this water will not only put the kidneys under more strain but will hinder your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients it needs to recover.
2) Mild dehydration can often manifest itself as a craving for food/hunger. This (if not recognised) can lead to over-eating which of course only exasperates the problem.
3) Not drinking enough water has a notable negative impact on our sleep too – essential for optimum recovery and naturalt test regeneration. This is a very important point as we don’t tend to drink water throughout the night and after losing water through sweating etc the morning often represents our lowest levels of hydration and a subsequent drop in metabolic rate.
So there you have it, I’m sure you’ll agree once it’s all down in writing the problems we can face by not drinking enough water can be very detrimental to our progress and incredibly far reaching. Here’s 10 ‘Golden Rules’ to help combat this:
1) Drink at least 500ml of water with each meal – don’t skip breakfast, rehydrating in the morning is absolutely essential. Remember this is when you’re at you most dehydrated.
2) Always drink 200-400ml of water 20 minutes before training (perhaps with a pre-workout supplement).
3) Always have a 500ml-1litre bottle of water with you in the gym. By drinking only water intra-workout you’ll also maximise natural growth hormone release – (sugars will impede this).
4) Immediate post workout – opt for something isotonic (faster hydrating) to initially replenish glycogen stores (see tip May 29th Tip), Lucozade RTD or Coconut Water is ideal.
5) Mix protein Post-Workout with water only.
6) Have access to a bottle of water for between meals if needed.
7) Don’t include the water in cups of coffee as part of your intake – the dehydrating effects of caffeine account for this.
8) Be aware that you’ll have to drink more (upto a 1000ml extra per day) when taking a potent fat burner.
9) Avoid high salt foods (processed inparticular)/salting your foods to excess.
10) Be aware of the fact that alcohol is a very strong diuretic, think about your recovery in terms of sleep and the morning after.
Finally you may be wondering how will I know if I’m dehydrated? Well if you are they’re 2 very simple ways to tell:
1) Without wishing to lower the tone – your urine should be water coloured, if it’s yellow your dehydrated and immediately drink 500ml of water.
2) Drink 500ml of water – if you do not need the toilet in within 90 minutes your dehydrated.
Few things to consider then…