It’s been HOT out there lately!

That can only mean one thing…it’s time to talk about hydration!

With temperatures scorching, proper hydration is more important now than ever.  At CFHV we often emphasize proper recovery in post-WOD mobility, nutrition, rest days and sleep…but what about that agua?

We all know that the earth and our bodies are mostly water.  We may live in the desert, but it doesn’t mean that our insides need be a cracked, scorched wasteland.

Let’s have a look at some numbers:

  • Humans are 50-70% water at any given time, but our muscle tissue is 75% water.
  • We can survive 4X as long without food than we can without water.

This means that maintaining proper hydration is imperative in not just athletic performance, but just living.  How important?  Let’s look at some more numbers:

  • 1% body weight loss of water can hinder athletic performance up to 10%.
  • 3% body weight loss of water means you’re at a significantly impaired performance.
  • 5% begins major cardiovascular strain, and by 7% you lose your ability to regulate your heat, which means…
  • 10% you can expect heat stroke and unconsciousness!

A 2-6% fluid loss is common during high intensity training like CrossFit, and even at 2 % there is a drop in blood volume, which means that your heart is working harder to move that blood.  For athletes not acclimatized to strenuous activity (particularly in hot climates) you’re looking at dizziness, fatigue, and muscle cramps.

All that sweating doesn’t just mean water loss; it also means losing important salt ions (Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Magnesium) which impair our electrical function.  Since our nervous system is essentially a giant electrical system, you can see how this could be a problem!

The good news is these are easily replaced by electrolyte dense substances and appropriate carbohydrates (coconut water and a banana anyone?)

Let me stress that everyone is different, so you need to find what works best for you.  I can offer some helpful tips and basic guidelines though:

  • The most basic rule is to drink half of your body weight per day, in ounces of water.
  • For every hour of strenuous exercise, add an additional 16 ounces.
  • If you want to be even more specific, you can weigh yourself before and after your WOD.  Any weight loss is likely due to water loss, so you can drink 20-24 ounces of water per pound of weight lost.
  • Yet another technique is to drink 16-20 ounces, 2 hours before your WOD, and then 8-10 ounces about 15 minutes before.

Cold water is best as it empties the stomach faster, and thus can be utilized and absorbed into the small intestine quicker.

I should mention that you can definitely drink too much water, even to the point of poisoning yourself.  If you’re following a very clean diet, such as Paleo, drinking too much water can also wash away many of those salts I mentioned above.

In general though, most Americans are chronically dehydrated and our thirst mechanisms have become so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.  In addition to the mistaken hunger, dehydration also slows our metabolism, causes daytime fatigue, and joint pain.

Or you can just forget everything I mentioned above and take a look at your “built in hydration meter” every day to tell you if you’re where you need to be.

That’s right, keep an eye on that tinkle!  If your urine is nice light colored lemonade, you’re probably aces.  However, if it’s looking more like apple juice or Coca-Cola with a hearty stank, you’re probably dehydrated.

So drink up, stay healthy, and perform your best!