Week 4 Video Tip: Maintaining Proper Hydration
Watch this week's video tip below to watch Melissa McCall discuss why and how you should maintain proper hydration.
Water is one of the most essential components of the human body. Water regulates our body temperature, cushions and protects our organs, and helps with digestion. It is impossible to sustain life for more than a week without it.
Although fluid needs can be very different between individuals, the general rule of thumb is to consume 6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses a day (shown in video).
In a dehydrated state, the body is unable to cool itself, leading to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. For people with spinal cord injuries, staying well-hydrated is especially important in order to help regulate body temperature, keep skin in good condition, and maintain proper kidney function.
For regular exercisers, maintaining a constant supply of water in the body is essential. Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of coordination. To prevent dehydration, exercisers must drink before, during and after a workout.
As a general rule during exercise, drink 1/2 cup of fluid (shown in video) for every 15 minutes of exercise.
Be aware of the signs of dehydration, which include:
- Increased thirst
- Dry, itchy, and/or saggy skin
- Headache, weakness, or lightheadedness
- Dry mouth
- Dark urine
- Trouble staying cool or keeping warm
As a general rule, water is the best choice for exercise that lasts less than 1 hour. Sports drinks - like Gatorade - are more appropriate for exercise lasting more than 1 hour.
Although sports drinks and juices do help to keep you hydrated, they contain sugar and excess calories and are also expensive. If you're watching your weight, be aware of the calories that many sports drinks contain. For example (drink nutrition label shown in video), this sports drink contains 200 calories and 56 grams of sugar. Just for reference, a 150 pound person only burns about 140 calories during a moderately paced walk.
Also keep in mind that drinks with caffeine do not help keep you hydrated. In fact, they cause you to lose water and become dehydrated. So, if you are someone who drinks caffeinated drinks, be sure to increase your water intake even more. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, colas, and some other soft drinks.
Although not all fluid has to come from pure liquid - other good choices for hydration include foods such as fruits, soups and vegetables - water is still the best choice for getting and staying well-hydrated. It is important to drink even before signs of thirst appear. Thirst is a signal that your body is already on the way to dehydration. In fact, we often confuse hunger with thirst. Many times we're actually thirsty when we think we are hungry. A good strategy for weight control is to drink an 8 ounce glass of water about 15 to 20 minutes before eating. Often times, you'll end up eating less.
Bottled water is not necessarily cleaner or safer than most tap water. Although some people prefer the taste of bottled water, it is more expensive. Also, bottled water typically does not contain fluoride, which promotes strong teeth and prevents tooth decay.
We urge you to create a system for keeping yourself hydrated. Since water coming from a tap is generally safe for human consumption, find a reusable bottle (example shown in video) that you can fill with tap water throughout the day and easily carry with you during exercise. Bottles having wider mouths can be more thoroughly cleaned and are easier to fill up from the tap or water fountain. Reusing your water bottle also helps the environment.
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If you have any questions about serving sizes or nutrition in general during your 14 week program, please contact Gillian Goodfriend at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-996-0907.