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Summer in Queensland is beautiful. Warm balmy evenings and long daylight hours mean we spend more time outside. However, it can also be brutally hot and humid.

Exercising during summer (especially in QLD) is nothing but a sweaty affair. Staying hydrated is essential for good performance and overall health. Not many people are aware of just how important hydration is, so I wanted to share a little science behind dehydration, and some tips and tricks you can use to stay hydrated this summer.

Firstly, what is waters function in the body? Water is used to dissolve and transport substances, it makes up a major component of plasma, it protects and lubricates tissues and is our immunities first line of defense.

The human body is made up of about 50% – 70% water.

During the day our fluid balance is constantly changing. Fluid loss happens by way of urinating, breathing, and sweating. Inversely, you gain body fluid from consuming food and drinks and through your metabolism. Did you know the average person excretes approximately 2700mL water per day? You can see just how important it is to focus on your fluid intake daily.

However, sweat isn’t just water. Sweat also contains electrolytes such as Sodium, Potassium and Chloride. Some people tend to excrete more of these electrolytes than others. Sweat rates are highly individual and are affected by various things such as gender, body weight, exercise intensity, environmental temperature, and lots more. I would consider myself to be in the ‘sweats like a pig’ category!

So, what happens when we get dehydrated? Well, our bodies go through numerous physiological changes in response to dehydration which include;

  • Increased RPE
  • Increased heat rate
  • Reduced blood pressure and plasma volume
  • Reduced skin blood flow
  • Increased core body temperature during exercise
  • Reduced cell volume

All these things happen inside you as a result of dehydration, but what symptoms are you able to see and feel? Dehydration can feel like;

  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth, lips, and eyes
  • Feelings of tiredness and lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Decrease in cognitive function (concentration, short term and long-term memory, reaction times and motor coordination)
  • Headaches

So now we have learnt about dehydration, what can we do to prevent and optimize our hydration especially around training?

Well firstly, prevention is better than cure. That means, for optimal health it is best to focus on hydration before you start training not just during or after. Consuming enough water throughout the day so that your urine is a light colour is the easiest way to gauge good hydration.

As I mentioned before, we don’t just sweat water. So, whilst we are training it is good to consume liquids that contain Electrolytes to replace what we sweat out. Below is a table that shows various liquids and their hydration effect.

It may surprise you to see that water alone isn’t the most hydrating. This is because drinking pure water causes a rapid fall in plasma sodium, which reduces the stimulation to drink, and also increases urine output. This is not ideal as it can delay the rehydration process.

Studies have shown that plasma volume is rapidly restored if some sodium chloride is added to water. The sodium helps to maintain thirst and delays urine production. This could be just simply adding a pinch of salt or a specialized electrolyte powder to your water.

The Beverage Hydration Index Table may also give some relief for people who aren’t fond of drinking massive amounts of plain water. As you can see, sports drinks are the most hydrating as they are specifically manufactured with scientific research to support hydration. Closely followed by skim milk, full cream milk, orange juice and then Coke. The reason these drinks score higher than water is they all share the common ingredients of Sodium and Glucose. Glucose and Sodium both stimulate the absorption of fluid across the membrane of the small intestine.

It’s worth noting that some of those options may not be the best thing to be consuming in large amounts due to their high calorie content, especially if consuming large amounts daily.

My key takeaways and tips for optimal daily hydration are;

  • Incorporate a drink that contains some sodium and a small amount of glucose around training
  • Maintain clear urine colour throughout the day
  • If you don’t like water, select drinks from the table that are most hydrating
  • Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables to assist in gaining fluids throughout the day
  • Consider sports specific drinks if performing intense physical activity or tasks that involve heavy sweating
  • Carry a bottle around with you as much as possible

I hope this helps and until next time, stay happy, stay hydrated!

Chelsea Turner

Club Owner/ Director

Personal Trainer

For more nutrition information head to @flourish_holisticwellness on Instagram