Thursday, April 24, 2014

Water – It Does a Body Good

by Doug Ward on August 19, 2013

Ready for some big, eye-opening, earth-shattering workout advice for this summer season?  Be sure to drink plenty of water.  Bet you’ve never heard that before, but before you dismiss it as the same ‘ole rhetoric, consider this…If you don’t drink enough fluids, not only will you become dehydrated, but you will also experience from some significant, NEGATIVE training implications.  Drinking enough water isn’t only about quenching your thirst.  It’s also about maximizing your training efforts and your performance.

Water constitutes anywhere from 72% – 83% of the tissue in your body.  About 72% of your skin is made up of water.  More than 75% of your muscles are made of water and even your heart consists of almost 80% water.  When the water in your body is reduced by just 5 percent, nearly all of your internal organs are impacted and your performance begins to suffer.  You can go weeks without food, but only a matter of days without water.  It is simply THAT critical to your health.

Proper hydration and re-hydration is especially impactful on your health when you are an athlete.  As a fighter, you are constantly placing additional demands on your body that require a consistent influx of water into your system in order to replenish the fluids you are losing in training.  But, aside from sweating, how do you know that you are dehydrated?  When you experience as little as a 1% loss, you become thirsty.  That’s your first clue and your best indicator.  As you get closer to that 5% loss, you will experience (noticeable or not) a decline in muscle strength, reduced endurance and general fatigue.  Beyond that, you would have to purposely be depriving your body of water because the signs are so obvious.  They involve dizziness, becoming light headed and blurred vision.  When the overall loss reaches 10%, you have hit a critical zone.  It would take pretty extreme measures to let yourself or make yourself get to that point, but anywhere on the dehydration scale leading up to that is still putting your health at risk and your performance in jeopardy.

Whether you’re attempting to cut weight, to make weight or are just trying, in general, to be hardcore disciplined and push your body to its limits, don’t do it in this area.  Do not deprive yourself of water.  Test your limits and prove your self-control in some other way.  You have nothing to gain by working through your thirst.  Let water and thirst win this battle, otherwise you will ultimately lose the war.

How much water is enough?  Let your body be your guide.  When you get thirsty…drink.  Don’t worry about downing 2 liters of water every twenty-four hours or sticking to the eight, eight ounce glasses every day.  None of those metrics have really been proven as the hard and fast rule anyway.  Drink when your body tells you it is thirsty.  Drink water.  Drink tea.  Drink fruit juice.  Drink coconut water.  It doesn’t matter so much how you get your liquid, just that you do get it.  Even your brain is made up of nearly 75% water so don’t worry, it will be the first one to jump on the self-preservation bandwagon and request some H2O.  All you have to do it listen to your body.  Having said that, please don’t mistake that commentary as a green light to run towards the sports drink aisle and pound down gallons of energy-enhancing electrolyte drinks or clear out the rows of mineral and vitamin waters that are lined-up.  Most are not good for you and offer few real health benefits.  They are infused with sweeteners, carbs and sugars and a whole lot of hype.  Your best bet comes from nature.  Water, tea leaves, coconuts and fruit – none of these are man-made.

Most important to remember is that every body is different.  Every workout approach and training routine has different demands.  Every athlete responds differently to any one given program.  Some people sweat more and some sweat less.  Some people retain water more and some less.  Given that understanding, blindly adhering to THE RULES that say you should be consuming 1.5 liters of water per day (for instance), is not a logical approach to proper hydration.  The person that knows what’s best for you is YOU.  You just need to be in-tune with your physical needs and recognize the signs.

It is also important to consider that it is even possible to over-hydrate your body.  Over-hydrating your system can also affect your performance negatively.  Your blood and cells have to adapt to the over-saturation and can cause similar symptoms to dehydration.  The same as dehydration, among other side-effects, it can cause dizziness, cramping and fatigue.  If it’s all beginning to sound “tricky” and difficult to know what is right, then take out all of the antiquated equations from the mix and refer back to the fifth paragraph and re-read where it says, “let your body be your guide”.

There’s no magic formula to getting enough water.  Hydrate when your body tells you it’s thirsty.  Your mouth will get dry and you will crave a drink.  It’s as simple as that.  Any other calculations are over-complicating nature’s way of letting you know that you need fuel for the fight.  So don’t hesitate to filler’ up so you can fight on!

Doug Ward is the President and Trainer for the Underground Boxing Company.

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