On average, the human body is 60% water. All this water is important for keeping everything in our bodies running smoothly, from improving the appearance of our skin and keeping our joints and muscles lubricated, to helping prevent overeating and supporting our mental ability.
It’s a no-brainer that staying properly hydrated is a must, but staying properly hydrated is much more than simply drinking eight glasses of water a day.
With summer coming up, here are some common hydration mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Drinking Too Much Too Fast
Tempting as it may be when you’re feeling parched, chugging a whole water bottle in one sitting isn’t necessarily a great idea.
Rapidly exceeding your water needs may cause electrolyte imbalances that negatively influence body processes, such as nerve impulses, movement of nutrients inside and outside of the cell, muscle contractions, pH and fluid balance.
Instead, sip slowly and take breaks to check in with your body.
- Relying Solely On Plain H20
If you can meet your personal hydration needs with plain water, that’s great! But not everyone loves water.
If it’s a challenge getting those ounces in every day, you do have other options! In fact, you can meet your hydration needs by infusing your water with fruits and vegetables, as well as consuming foods that have high water content.
- Not Eating Enough Fruits And Vegetables
In addition to being great sources of water, fruits and vegetables also contain electrolytes (such as potassium, magnesium and sodium), which are essential for maintaining fluid balance throughout the body.
To increase your fruit and veggie intake, take a fresh piece of fruit with you for breakfast and snacks, pack pre-cut veggies for lunches and incorporate at least two cups of veggies at dinner.
- Drinking Too Much Caffeine
While moderate amounts of caffeine are unlikely to dehydrate you, especially if you consume it regularly, excess caffeine may have a dehydrating effect.
The FDA recommends limiting caffeine intake to no more than 400 milligrams a day, which equates to about four or five cups of coffee. Some people exceed this by far by consuming multiple energy drinks, coffee and pre-workout supplements throughout the day.
To avoid a negative impact, keep your caffeine intake under the recommended 400 milligrams and drink plenty of water.
- Chugging From A Plastic Water Bottle
A great way to make sure you’re getting the right amount of water is to carry a water bottle with you, so you can drink throughout the day. But what’s your water bottle made of?
It shouldn’t be plastic. Plastics are full of toxins and chemicals that leach into your water and are unsafe for the environment. If your plastic bottle changes shape while you are drinking, it’s made from oil or polyethylene, so we want to avoid that all together.
Opt for a stainless steel bottle instead that is eco-friendly, durable and keeps your water cold for hours. This choice will benefit both your well-being and the health of our planet.
- Waiting Until You're Thirsty To Start Hydrating
There’s no denying the fact that feeling thirsty is your body signaling to you that it needs water. And if we override our thirst mechanism by ignoring it long enough, we can actually lose touch with our awareness that we need to hydrate in the first place.
For example, if you’re ignoring your thirst because you’re finishing a project at work, or are trying not to drink water during a long car ride because you don’t want to stop to pee, you can become unaware of this basic bodily need, which can lead to dehydration.
Instead, get ahead of thirst by drinking hydrating beverages and eating high-water foods consistently throughout the day.
- Slacking On Fluids Before And After Workouts
You lose body water while working out through both breathing and perspiration, so skimping on hydration around exercise is a big no.
Although you may not feel that thirsty before you hit the gym or go for a run, fluid losses can happen quickly, especially if it’s hot or you’re a heavy sweater. By the time you finish your workout and get around to drinking water, you may already be experiencing symptoms of dehydration (like headache and dizziness), which can take a while to recover from.
So drink at least eight ounces before your workout, sip on water during your workout and replenish any additional fluids lost afterward. Adding electrolytes can help even further since you lose those through sweat as well.