Being hydrated is hugely important for our health, but like nutrition there are many myths surrounding how it affects our bodies and the best ways to maintain our hydration levels. In this blog I am going to answer some frequently asked questions and deal with a couple of myths surrounding hydration.
Do I need to drink 2 litres of water a day? Whilst it is important to drink fluids throughout the day, drinking 2 litres of water a day isn’t automatically the magic number we all must abide by. This number, similar to eating 2000 calories a day, is ultimately an observed average target that should comfortably maintain hydration.
It is important to note that there are many different factors that can and will affect your hydration levels such as the food you eat, your body temperature and the types of fluid you drink amongst many more. It is more important to be able to gage your hydration level rather than forcing yourself to drink that magic number.
How can I tell if I’m hydrated enough? There are several scientific ways that doctors and scientists can tell how hydrated you are, but you can’t go far wrong by comparing the colour of your urine. Developed by Armstrong et al in 1994 the comparison of urine can go a long way to indicating your hydration levels. (This unfortunately is a lot easier for guys).
There is however short comings in this as eating things like beetroot or taking multi vitamins can discolour your urine.
Does drinking water help me lose weight? The jury is still out on this. Whilst there is no direct correlation (outside of observation studies and personal accounts) between the consumption of water and weight loss, there is a theory that drinking water before meals will help to reduce the amount you consume thus reducing calories.
My honest opinion on this would be to focus on hydration for health reasons rather than assistance of weight loss, as there just is not enough proof on this subject at the moment.
What are the symptoms to being dehydrated? With over half the body made up of water, being dehydrated can be a serious matter so it is important to recognise the symptoms. The body is designed to be able to regulate its water level but you do need to keep replenishing it by taking in fluids.
Signs of dehydration include;
- Dry mouth, lips and eyes
- Feeling Lethargic
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Loss of cognitive function
(Think about how you feel when hungover, this is a perfect example of dehydration working in the short term).
I don’t like water what else can I drink? Whilst we recommend that you have water throughout the day it is not the only fluid that will hydrate you. In fact believe it or not, it might not be the most hydrating fluid out there as a whole. So do not worry if when it comes to water you find it a little bland and need something a bit more flavoursome.
Try using some low calorie squash or a hydration tablets such as ‘Zero’ to give you a little bit of flavour. Our main advice would be to avoid sugary drinks and juices as they just eat into your calorie intake without you realising. It is also important to consider if your drink is a diuretic like alcohol or coffee. Basing your fluid intake on these could lead to dehydration rather than hydration.
How can I improve my hydration? So you’ve found that your urine is a little dark or suffering from headaches and you want to improve you fluid intake. Here is some practical advice that is pretty easy to follow;
- Maintain urine colour using the chart in this blog
- Keep a bottle on you all day – The more accessible fluid is the more you’ll drink
- Choose drinks you enjoy – If you find water bland then spice it up, just be cautious of calorific content and diuretic effects.
- Don’t forget foods – Foods that contain high levels of water (such as soups, fruit and veg) can keep your hydration levels up.
NB – We made a controversial statement about water maybe not being the best fluid to hydrate you, please lookout for another blog/ Facebook post into why I have suggested this.