How Important is Water Intake During Workouts?

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question-icon-newMy question is about water. Everyone is saying to drink a bunch of it all the time but I would like to know when the ideal time is to drink it around my workouts. Should I be drinking water before, during or after my weight training workouts? I would also like to point out that I really don’t like to drink water because of the taste. I really need something that has some flavor to it and ideally a little sweetness. Do you have any recommendations on other things I can drink instead of water?

answer-icon-newWater is absolutely crucial for living and the human body is made up of between 55 and 75 percent of water. Leaner people with less body fat have more water in their bodies because muscle mass holds more water than fat mass. Have you ever heard of the rule of 3 for survival? When it comes to basic human needs, the rules of 3 states that you can live approximately 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, 3 hours without shelter and 3 minutes without air. This shows you how critical water is for staying alive and even though we can go about 3 long weeks without food, we can only make it about 3 short days without consuming water.

You should be drinking plenty of water before, during and after your workouts. When you exercise, your heart rate raises and your overall body temperature increases which makes you sweat. When you sweat you expel water and lose it, so it’s imperative that you drink enough water to keep you fully hydrated during exercise. Studies have shown that a loss of only 2% of body weight in fluids can cause fatigue and negatively affect athletic performance.

The basic recommendation for the amount of water to drink per day is the “8X8 rule” which means eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This is the absolute minimum and for anyone who exercises and performs intense workouts, the recommended amount is:

  • Low End of Range= Body weight (lbs) x 0.5 = (ounces of water per day)
  • High End of Range= Body weight (lbs) x 1 = (ounces of water per day)

So, if you currently weigh 200 pounds you should be drinking between 100-200 ounces of water every day. There are 128 ounces in 1 gallon, so a good rule of thumb is to focus on buying several gallon jugs of water at the grocery store so you know exactly how much water to drink each day. A lot of people will take a gallon water jug with them to the gym, in the car or at work and sip on it throughout the day. This gives you a quick and easy measuring stick to know at all times how much more water you need to chug down to meet your daily requirements.

water-intake-workoutsIf you don’t like the bland taste of water, there are a few options which you can try to increase the flavor. The first thing is to add some fresh lemons or lemon juice to your water. This gives it a nice lemon flavor and helps to add some variety. If you need it even sweeter you can add a natural sweetener called Stevia to your lemon water to make a very nice and refreshing lemonade. Stevia is a natural herbal sweetener and comes in both a powder (packets) and a liquid (bottle dropper). I like to buy it in liquid form and squeeze a few drops into my lemon water when I need some variety and sweetness. It is super sweet so just a few drops should quench your sweet tooth and provide a nice change to drinking regular plain water.

Your other option is to mix a sugar-free flavored powder into your water such as Crystal Light or Kool-Aid. These drinks contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose so be aware of that when buying these products. You can easily add a few flavored packets of Crystal Light to your gallon jug of water and shake it up. Crystal Light only contains 5 calories per serving and comes in many different flavors such as fruit punch, pink lemonade, citrus splash and strawberry kiwi to name just a few. So you will have many options to satisfy any specific flavor you’re craving and it will be easy to hit your sweet tooth while drinking your recommended amount of water each day.

Your last option is a great one when working out since it covers several of your specific needs for hydrating your body, providing enjoyable flavors and most importantly providing key nutrients to your hard-working muscles. This drink is a BCAA supplement (branched chain amino acids) that comes in powder form that you can mix with water and drink before (pre-workout), intra (during your workout) and after (post-workout). Branched chain amino acids are three specific amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) that are part of the nine essential amino acids. BCAAs are metabolized in the muscle tissue, not the liver. For this reason, BCAAs lend themselves readily to help support muscle recovery as well as counteracting muscle breakdown.

Benefits of BCAAs (branched chain amino acids):

  • Supports protein synthesis (anabolism)
  • Anti-Catabolism (muscle sparing)
  • Promotes recovery from workouts
  • Supports muscular endurance
  • Supports against muscular fatigue

Another great thing about using a BCAA supplement drink during your workouts is because they taste amazing. Some of the flavors include green apple, watermelon, fruit punch and raspberry. Just mix a few scoops into your water bottle and sip it during your workout to provide the amino acids your body needs to perform at optimum levels. A few of the top BCAA supplements to choose from include AminoX by BSN and Xtend by SciVation. A 30 day supply costs around $25-30 per container (30 servings).

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