By Brittney Bergen
I was, and many athletes are. We drink enough water. That’s not why we’re dehydrated. We’re dehydrated because:
- We don’t take in enough minerals/electrolytes
- We drink most of our beverages cold
- We love us some caffeine before a workout and some alcohol after a hard week of training
Are you matching your fluid and electrolyte intake to your activity level?
3 Solid Truths About Proper Liquid Levels:
- We need the proper mineral-water balance to keep the right amount of fluid in our cells.
- Cold liquids pass through our body more quickly, and with less absorption, than room temperature or warmer liquids.
- Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics. They pass through our body quickly, depleting it of fluid along the way.
“Dammit. Here’s this Idealistic Lady raining on my parade, again…”
Well, my friend. If I’m raining on you, it’s likely because you needed the hydration. (Was that a dad joke?)
If you’re sensing you need to take your hydration more seriously, here are…
6 Signs of Chronic Dehydration:
- Muscle cramps
- Pelvic floor issues
- Hard bowel movements like pellets, or that are painful to pass
- Kidney and liver issues
- Urine that is consistently darker than pale yellow
Urine that is consistently clear is a sign you’re overhydrated. And paradoxically, overhydration eventually leads to dehydration as your body continues to push water out of your cells beyond what’s healthy.
This is why athletes who do water loads have a tendency towards chronic dehydration: they push their bodies towards overhydration in order to dehydrate to make weight, and then never restore the proper mineral and water balance.
No worries, I’ve got you! If you identified with any of the symptoms above here are…
4 Guidelines to Getting Hydrated:
- Start Your Day with Warm Water with Sea Salt and Lemon
- Sea salt will help restore the mineral balance so your body can hold onto the right amount of the water you drink, instead of it passing right through
- Lemon will help alkalize the body. This allows all chemical messages to be sent more easily; your nervous system can function better; and your digestive tract will be prepped and ready to process food.
Stick with room temperature or warmer water for most of your day. This will allow the liquids to stay in your body longer, ensuring proper absorption.
- Use a Mineral/Electrolyte Supplement While You Train
Here are some options:
- You could try Gatorade, coconut water, or sea salt and lemon water
- Coach Rana Uses “Ultima Replenisher: Balanced Electrolyte” Powder
- Many supplement companies make a “Hydration” formula
Choose what you’re drawn to. All of us are our own best Medicine Woman and Men. Trust your instincts.
- Cut Back on Caffeine and Alcohol
I said it. I did. And I feel you.
I freaking LOVE coffee. And last month my physiotherapist told me to cut back when she noticed my liver wasn’t functioning optimally. (Funny enough, I later found out that liver problems are sign of chronic dehydration).
I’ve cut back to one cup of coffee per day (after a glass of filtered water with sea salt and lemon, and after a glass of warm water with probiotics).
I feel so much better. And I’m back to treating that cup of coffee as sacred and enjoying every sip of it, instead of taking it for granted.
- Cut your caffeine and alcohol intake back to 1 cup or 1 drink per day
- Yes, that means choose the coffee OR the wine, not both
- Your health and your performance are worth it
- Sip Your Liquids Instead of Chugging Them
- Drinking liquids slowly allows for better absorption
- Some of the best advice I’ve ever received about nutrition is, “Chew your drinks and drink your food”
- By being mindful you’ll get more immediate satisfaction, and more long-term health benefits (#winwin)
To Optimize Hydration for Life
Monitor Your Urine and Bowel Movements:
- If you’re reading this, you likely believe in the importance of movement standards. A squat must be to depth. In a chest to bar pull-up your chest must actually touch the bar.
- Why would you treat your urine and bowel movements any differently? The ideal urine colour is pale yellow, and the ideal bowel movement is one smooth, soft log.
- Monitor your urine colour and bowel movements every day to gain intimate knowledge about your own hydration levels.
And there you have it, sister or bro!
Now You Know:
- How to identify if you’re chronically dehydrated
- How to restore your hydration levels
- How to monitor optimal hydration levels for life
Love you long time! Here’s to your hydration!
As always, I write this to you from one athlete learning about her body to another. Almost all of my research is anecdotal, as I believe in getting to know our own bodies through experimentation and then sharing what we learn with others in case it helps them through their struggles.
Please take responsibility for your own body and your own healing journey, and do the next right steps for yourself. That might mean trying something I’ve tried on myself, and it might mean seeing a doctor or another health care practitioner.
Photo Credit: Emma Love Photography