How to Hydrate Properly When Bodybuilding

Hydration takes on a whole new importance where exercise is concerned. During exercise, depending on your weight, fitness level, exercise intensity, and temperature where you are working out, you’ll lose approximately one liter of fluid per hour of exercise. This can affect your performance during your workout or athletic event, as well as your health, due to the dangers of dehydration.

With exercise, a proactive approach to hydration is typically the best method. Depending on the duration and intensity of the activity, drink an extra 1-2 cups of water about an hour or two before you exercise, depending on the length of time you plan to workout for. That should be adequate if you’re doing an average workout. On the other hand, if you’re engaging in a more strenuous workout, lasting an hour or longer, you will have to pay special attention to consume an extra two to three cups of water per hour throughout the activity. It is best to pace your drinks so that you are steadily hydrated without having stomach upset.

Drinking too much water is rare but it can occur. It happens when so much water is consumed in a short enough amount of time that the kidneys are unable to excrete the excess and therefore the healthy balance of electrolytes in the blood are thrown off balance. Our blood contains electrolytes and when these are diluted a condition called hyponatremia occurs. This is where there is a low sodium level in the blood.

In healthy individuals hyponatremia occurs in two ways where fluids are factors. Either we are severely dehydrated (mostly caused by excess diarrhea and vomiting) or we are overhydrated. That is why infants are commonly given electrolyte solution if they have been very ill, and we are told to weigh ourselves before and after intense exercise in order to assure we haven’t been drinking too much during our workouts.

In terms of exercise and hydration, we commonly hear about hyponatremia in association with endurance athletes who have consumed excess amounts of water. This may be due to a fear of dehydrating causing them to over hydrate. Symptoms of hyponatremia are nausea and vomiting, headache, confusion, lethargy, fatigue, appetite loss, restlessness and irritability, muscles weakness, muscles spasms and cramps and finally loss of consciousness and coma which can lead to death.

Sports drinks are popular because they can help prevent this condition by replacing lost electrolytes like sodium, while also providing hydration. This makes them especially beneficial during long and intense workouts; hence they are a common drink choice provided during marathons. As well, the carbohydrates they contain can add some much needed energy to your body during prolonged endurance exercise.

The most important thing to remember when hydrating yourself is that the goal is to replace lost fluids, not drink as much as you are able to! If you weigh more than you did after your workout, chances are you’ve over hydrated.

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Do you have any hydration tips to share?


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