Our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water; it’s the primary building block of our cells. It makes up around 73% of our heart and brain, 64% of our skin and 31% of our bones. Even our body fat is 10% water. It’s such an important tool for our overall health, wellbeing and performance and yet it’s one most of us neglect on a daily basis.
There are so many roles water plays in our body that you may not have realised. To name just a few, it helps to:
- Maintain our body temperature
- Keep us cool while we exercise
- Balance our electrolytes
- Provide bodily fluids
- Eliminate toxins
- Encourage food to move along the gut
There are also benefits for weight loss if you maintain the right level of hydration. Drinking 500ml of water before each meal makes you feel fuller and can lead to you reducing your calorie intake by about 10% per day, without even realising. A lot of the time when we’re tired or feeling floppy we reach for starchy carbs to keep us going, but really we need to be upping our fluid intake.
So how much should we be drinking? As a basic rule we advise 0.033l of water per kg of bodyweight per day, with an additional litre if you’re doing an hour of strenuous exercise. A lot of our clients say, “I just drink when I’m thirsty,” but this is too late. By the time thirst kicks in we’ve already lost 2-3% of our body’s water. Our mental and physical co-ordination is impaired at around a 1% drop, and at 2-3% studies have shown we can lose up to 12% of our total body strength.
Getting in enough water can be tough, but there are lots of little things you can do to make it easier. The first thing is to buy a bigger bottle. Research has shown that people who drink from a 200ml or 500ml bottle drink less throughout the day than those who drink from a 1-2l bottle. If we have more available, we’re more likely to finish it off.
Another idea is to flavour your water to make it more appetising. We like to use cucumber, ginger and mint but there are loads of things you can put it. Leave it overnight and by the morning you’ve got something enjoyable to drink. Sugar free squash and fruit teas are also great, but don’t include things like smoothies, juices and coffee in your daily fluid intake.
If you’re upping your water intake don’t do it all at once, add 250ml per day for a week, then add another 250ml and so on. You don’t want to be dashing for the loo every half an hour, but over a short period of time you really will feel the benefits of proper hydration.