Whether you’re a serious athlete or a recreational exerciser, it’s important to make sure you get the right amount of water before, during and after exercise.
People often say ‘I don’t drink enough’ or ‘I’d like to drink the right amount of water’. The question is, how much water should you be drinking?
These general guidelines are what the American Council of Exercise have set:
- Drink 480-580ml water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising
- Drink 230ml water 20-30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up
- Drink 200-280ml water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
- Drink 230ml water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise
Now, this is general advice, and you do need to consider other factors regarding the specificity of the exercise you’re doing, such as the intensity and type of exercise, along with external factors such as the temperature or climate.
Yes, water as an essential keeps us alive, but physically active people should know the difference between drinking the bare minimum to keep you from dehydrating and drinking the right amount to live well and enhance performance. Performance wise, fluid transports nutrients such as macros, carbs and proteins around the body, as well as removing metabolic waste. This means that increased hydration before your workout enhances your performance, and increased hydration during and after your workout immediately aids your recovery and therefore your ability to perform again!
Most of us know when we haven’t had enough water by how it makes us feel mentally; you can’t concentrate, you feel a bit slow and you get a headache. We feel like this because it’s the brain that seems to be affected first; however this is most likely because we’re not exerting ourselves physically. So, imagine the same effects that your brain is experiencing happening throughout your body, while your body is working as much as your mind.
If you exercise regularly and don’t take in enough fluid, you may put the symptoms simply down to fatigue, or ‘that’s just my limit’, or ‘I always get a headache after I exercise’. But the truth is, you may be limiting yourself.
Water is the most natural and efficient performance enhancer there is…use it!