What would happen if we stopped drinking water? Science has proved time and time again that staying properly hydrated means that your body will work optimally. Without water, our bodies would cease to work the way they are supposed to.
How to Tell You’re Hydrated
There are several ways to test if you are hydrated. The first is to take a look at your urine. It’s not the end all be all. However, this method is fairly accurate to whether or not you’re hydrated or at least to what degree of hydration you’re at.
Essentially, when looking at your urine, you will want to see what it’s coloration is. The color of your urine can help you determine multiple things. Whether or not you should speak with a doctor (i.e.; blood in your urine) or the amount of water you’ve consumed. The general consensus is that the lighter the urine the more hydrated you are. So therefore if your urine is pretty close to being clear you are generally considered well hydrated by doctors and scientists alike.
Believe it or not, another way to check if you’re dehydrated is to check your moods and ability to remember things properly. A large amount of our cognitive functions rely heavily on our hydration. And even slight dehydration can lead to some mild cognitive impairments.
Another thing to take a look at is your skin. It’s the largest organ you have and often the one that visually shows dehydration. So what exactly should you look for in your skin? Look for things like rough patches, flakiness, redness, or even cracked or heavily chapped lips. Granted, this is not the most accurate way to check your hydration because it can also be do to your environment that you’re seeing these same symptoms.
Hydration Linked to Muscle Gains
So you want to gain muscle. For years, many have claimed the anabolic window after a workout is one that plays a giant role in the building of muscle. And while eating protein and carbohydrates before or after a workout can have benefits for your body. This myth of the anabolic window is actually bunk.
Rather than focusing on your carb and protein intake, researchers have actually come to the conclusion that it’s your hydration that is linked to actually hitting your ideal gains. How so? Well, your post workout hydration gives your body back what it gave up in sweat while you did your thing.
A research study found in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that men that took part in resistance training and were adequately hydrated managed to gain muscle. However, at varying degrees of hydration, most of the men in the study had heightened cortisol levels which actually led to the opposite outcome. Rather than create the muscle they were working so hard for, the cortisol ended up breaking down muscle tissue in order for the body to “survive the stress” caused by the light to severe hydration.
Blood, Water, & Bodily Fluids
It may come as a surprise, but water is not only what makes us have to urinate more often. It has several other common jobs within the body. For starters, it helps with your immune system. How so? By being prevalent in a fluid referred to by doctors and scientists alike as lymph. This fluid is what helps fight off illnesses that you may acquire. Not only that, water is able to aid with the movement of oxygen in your bloodstream.
A common misconception is that the water intake you use to hydrate with is what causes your urine to be various colors. While the color of your urine has some keys to your hydration levels, it isn’t completely an indication of the amount of water you drink. This is because in most cases our urine is what our bodies filter out of our blood through our kidneys. It’s the waste and fluid from your blood.
Now, as previously mentioned. Your urine is actually an effective way to understand your hydration level. Generally speaking our urine being of a lighter almost clear color means that we are more hydrated while being darker could mean we are dehydrated and lead to other issues.
Calculating Your Ideal Water Intake
Much like every other area of health, water intake varies by the person and there are many ways to calculate how much your body needs each day.
The most common rule of thumb is to drink 8 – 8oz glasses of water. This number is essentially the baseline for most people who are looking to achieve at least some semblance of hydration.
Now, if you want to do a bit of math, there are other ways to calculate your water intake needs. The first is to take your weight in pounds and first divide that by 2.2. Then once you have that number you’ll want to multiply it based on your age. For those younger than 30 you’d multiply by 40. If you’re between 30 and 55 you’ll multiply by 35 and those older than that would multiply the sum by 30. Then from their, the value you get you’ll want to divide by 28.3. The number you get from that calculation is the amount of water you’ll need to drink each day to be considered hydrated.
So for example, if you weigh 200lbs and are 30 years old, your total ounces of water per day would be around 129 when rounded to the nearest ounce. That would mean roughly 16 – 8oz cups of water each day.
If calculations are not your thing another option is to drink at least half your weight in water. So therefore if you weigh 200lbs like the individual above, you’ll want to drink at least a minimum of 100 ounces of water each day.
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