Water is, without a doubt, the most important nutritive substance, constituting around 60% of the total body weight, so we could almost say that “we are water”.
While we can stand without eating for weeks or even months, we cannot deprive ourselves of the need to drink water for more than a few days.
Therefore, adequate hydration is fundamental to our goals in the gym, whether to lose weight or gain muscle mass, or simply to lead a healthy life.
Among its various functions we can highlight the following:
- Thermal regulation through sweating.
- It contributes to the optimal functioning of organs and cells, participating in digestion, circulation, excretion, etc..
- It is the means of transport of nutrients.
- It is fundamental for enzymatic reactions.
We must always be well hydrated, otherwise, the consequences can be very negative (decreased physical and mental performance, respiratory difficulties, dizziness, etc.).
Water can also help us eliminate excess sodium if we are bodybuilders with advanced training goals.
What is water?
Water is a compound chemically formed by hydrogen and oxygen (H20).
It is liquid at room temperature and, when pure, is colourless, odourless and tasteless.
All existing life depends on water, as no organism can live in an environment without water. From jellyfish, which contain 98% water of their total weight, through all living things, the percentage of water component of each organism is high.
Within the human being, this can vary from 50% of some women, to 80% of a newborn. In the case of adults, these differences are due to muscle tissue, which is where more water is found. Therefore, an adult man will contain more water than a woman, as the man has more muscle mass.
Just as muscle can contain up to 80% water, bone or adipose tissue contains much less (for example, fat contains 15%). Thus we deduce that a thin person will contain more water as a percentage than an obese person.
How much water do we need?
The most important thing about water, in order to have a healthy life, is to maintain an adequate water balance, i.e. that absorption and losses are adequate.
With regard to absorption, 50% of the water needed daily (between 800 and 1600 ml) must come from the ingestion of liquid water or drinks.
These needs vary greatly depending on external factors such as climate, eating habits or body activity, and internal factors such as secretory activity and internal combustion of human beings.
On average, 1 ml of water is considered necessary for each calorie of food. A diet of 3000 calories per day will therefore need 3 litres of water per day.
Another 40% of the absorption will come from food water (between 700 and 1000 ml), mainly from fruits and vegetables whose water content is between 90% and 95%.
The remaining 10% will arise from internal metabolic reactions (oxidation reactions) of the human being, producing 55 grams of water from 100 grams of carbohydrates, 42 grams from 100 grams of protein, and 107 from 100 grams of fat.
Possible water substitutes
Bodybuilders and other athletes may prefer sports drinks over drinking water because they taste better in principle (which means you’re more likely to drink more), as well as replacing glucose and electrolytes.
But do they actually improve exercise performance? According to some studies, water is enough when training sessions last for about an hour, that roll, cookie or chicken breast you ate earlier will provide you with all the sodium and carbohydrates you need for your workout.
Choose a sports drink that contains 6% or less carbohydrates (about 50 calories or 8 grams per 250 milliliters) for faster absorption.
A larger amount will take longer to digest and will most likely cause stomach cramps. Cold liquids are absorbed more quickly than hot ones.
Are there any other drinks that can replace water?
Maybe people don’t usually drink water because it just doesn’t taste like anything. While most beverages and a portion of fresh fruits and vegetables will count toward your total daily water accumulation, they also contain components that will delay digestion.
Carbonated beverages (mainly all carbonated soft drinks) tend to make you feel full, making it difficult to drink enough. If you consume coffee, cola or teas that contain caffeine, you are actually consuming a diuretic, which causes your body to eliminate extra water.
Simple water is best because it contains no sugar, caffeine or other compounds that can alter the body. Try adding just a little lime or lemon flavor if you don’t like the “flavor” of plain water or dilute some fruit juice.
What happens if you drink tea, coffee or cola instead of plain water?
The consequence is that you will stimulate your central nervous system more with caffeine and, at the same time, dehydrate your body due to the strong diuretic reaction in the kidneys, which leads to excessive urine production.
This is why a person can drink as many cans of cola as possible and never satisfy their thirst.
Losses occur in four ways.
Urine, whose water content is 96%, accumulates in the bladder at a rate of approximately one milliliter per minute to have a daily secretion of between 1000 ml and 1500 ml.
The second route is through the skin and the average volume of water in the sweat excreted varies between 500 and 700 ml daily. It should be noted that the primary objective of sweating is body thermoregulation and not the water balance.
Evidently, external heat, humidity, physical effort and fever make this factor vary.
Breathing and feces are the least important pathways in the amount of water excreted. In the first one between 250 and 300 ml are eliminated, while in the second one the quantity is between 100 and 200 ml.
Therefore, a correct hydric contribution will allow, in non-pathological conditions, adequate corresponding losses and, in short, a stable water content in the body.
Thirst and rehydration
The ingestion of water is controlled mainly through the sensation of thirst itself; however, the mechanism of the body’s thirst is somewhat “treacherous,” because we don’t feel thirsty until long after we begin to dehydrate.
Moreover, even when dehydrated we may wish to drink at intermittent intervals, and precisely for this reason, that is, because of our slow way of replacing the body’s water, and in order to prevent dehydration, it is advisable to drink more liquid than our thirst mechanism indicates.
It is advisable to drink one to two liters of water daily, and in the case of subjects who exercise a lot, and consequently, lose a lot of fluid, probably more.
In the sessions of physical activity, it is advisable to hydrate during and after them.
Water recovery occurs:
- By the ingestion of drinks: water, juices, milk, etc.
- Food intake: all foods contain more or less water, especially fruits and vegetables.
- By oxidation, since carbohydrates, proteins and fats are metabolized, water is also produced.
A simple way to control water balance is to control the weight and color of urine.
Sudden drops in body weight are often due to considerable loss of body water, while the loss of body fat usually takes weeks to become noticeable.
Urine colour is another indicator of hydration status. Very clear and diluted urine means that the body has too much water and the kidneys are emptying the excess, and very dark urine means that the kidneys are making an effort to conserve water.
As far as the way of drinking is concerned, it is more convenient to drink in sips, instead of “slashes”, and during meals, excessive intake of liquid should be avoided, not only because of the problems that it may cause at the digestive level, but also because of the sensation of sudden satiety that produces and impels to leave the “solid” of the food.
What you should drink to hydrate yourself
In a “guidance system” for beverage consumption, the researchers, led by Barry M. Popkiny representing six academic institutions, designed a list of beverages ranked in order of importance from level 1 (water) that should be consumed frequently, to level 6 (soft drinks) whose consumption is only sporadically recommended or better avoided.
Level 1: Water or H2O
Water is the calorie-free drink par excellence. Its consumption is necessary for metabolic and physiological functions. When more than 2% of body weight is lost in water, physical work capacity and athletic performance are significantly affected, as is strength.
How much to drink? As much as you want without going to the extreme (it should never exceed 5-6 liters daily). Because water has no calories and is so necessary for the body, this liquid is a category in itself.
Level 2: Tea and Coffee
This category could be more beneficial for bodybuilders. Apart from the fact that coffee and tea have few or no calories (leaving aside cream and sugar), most of these drinks have thermogenic properties that can help burn fat while keeping muscle mass clean.
How much to drink? Up to half of all liquids can come from this category; if this limit is exceeded, tremors may occur. A note of caution: if you are taking fat burners, minimize your intake of extra caffeine – the supplement you are using probably already contains a good amount of caffeine.
Level 3: Milk and Soy
Milk and soy milk are viable as a basis for a protein shake, according to this classification.
Milk not only strengthens bones for heavy lifting, it can also help burn fat more efficiently.
Although this theory is not yet fully investigated, we suggest that you continue to drink this white liquid (beige in the case of soy milk).
How much to drink? Drink about half a liter a day – just enough to make one or two protein shakes between meals.
Level 4: Light refreshments, sweetened iced tea and some flavored drinks
We tend to resort to light refreshments and other types of light drinks when we have already had enough water or when we avoid water, as these drinks provide us with water and flavor without an excess of calories.
Although these sweetened drinks could be damaging our earnings in another way: they could be creating a need for sweet flavors in our taste buds.
How much to drink? If you can, eliminate this type of drink because of its potential influence on taste buds and the possible swelling caused by the sweeteners used. If you can’t drink water alone or sometimes resort to non-calorie sweetened drinks for a change, the recommendations suggest limiting your intake to 1 liter or less per day.
Level 5: Caloric drinks with some nutrients
This level includes drinks such as Aquarius or Gaterade. As an athlete, you need to replenish the fluids you lose during exercise, especially during an intense session lasting more than 60 minutes.
This is where your favorite sports drinks come in. You can also make your own homemade isotonic drink, which will be much healthier than anyone you can buy in a store.
How much to drink?
The research group suggests that a normal person should consume this type of drink in moderation – no more than 250 mi a day. However, athletes who use these drinks to get the much-needed calories during a workout can consume between 250 and half a liter.
Of course, bodybuilders need carbohydrates after training. Therefore, we suggest that if you use a sports drink as a source of carbohydrates, consume up to one liter.
Some bodybuilders mix fruit juice with creatine, and use carbohydrates before and after training – an acceptable practice if not abused.
Level 6: Calorie sweet drinks without nutrients
This is where refreshments such as regular coke, Pepsi, etc. come in.
Some bodybuilders use these soft drinks to obtain carbohydrates before and after training. Of course they are not the right carbohydrates for this purpose.
In general, keep the consumption of these high-calorie drinks to an absolute minimum at other times of the day.
If you really want to get a magazine physicist, we recommend not going beyond Level 2.As you’ve seen, alcohol doesn’t even make the list, obviously it’s not a suitable drink for your fitness goals.