Shed U: Hydration

by Rachel on October 5, 2009

Oh, yes, it’s time for another class at Shed U. Today we’re showing love for the liquids!

When I was at cheerleading camp, there were cheers for, well, everything. The cheer for water breaks went, “H-H-2-O-O…the wet stuff!” to the tune of the New Kids on the Block Song, “The Right Stuff.” I still hear that every damn time I take a water break at the gym.

  • The body uses fluid to regulate temperature, maintain blood pressure, deliver nutrients, and carry away waste products
  • You can survive without water for only a few days
  • Fluid intake comes from both what we drink and what we eat (so juicy fruits count!)
  • The “eight 8 ounce glasses a day” rule is only partially true; it really depends on age, gender, activity, and environment. Seven to 11 cups is the general recommendation for someone who takes in 2000 calories a day.
  • If you aren’t drinking enough water, try wearing a stack of eight bangles on your left wrist. Switch one bangle to your right wrist each time you have a cup!
  • While drinks like juice and milk do count toward your daily liquid total, they also contain calories, so they shouldn’t be your main source of fluids. Skim milk and 100 percent juice are the best options because they offer nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and protein.
  • Coffee and tea count toward your total, but try to lay off the cream and sugar! And too much caffeine is a diuretic, so don’t start slamming java to get hydrated.
  • Alcohol is not a good source of fluids. Don’t even try it.
  • If you count calories, it’s so important to remember that liquid ones do count. And the 8-ounce serving usually described on the nutrition label is not very much it all. Measure it some time with a one-cup measuring cup! It fills a very short glass. The tall glasses we usually drink out of contain two or three servings.
  • Sugar-sweetened drinks (from sodas to “juice”) are not good sources of hydration. The extra calories they pack and their utter lack of nutrients make them a big waste of money and calories. And no matter how healthy a label looks, it doesn’t mean what you’re drinking is natural. If you love this stuff, consider it a treat food. But personally, I’d rather have the cupcake.
  • Water is often overlooked when we think about our “diets.” Remember, what you put in is just as important as what you take out, and you need to put water in!
  • If you’re eating right to feel better, you can’t let your body get dehydrated. Without adequate water intake, you’re going to feel tired, sluggish, bloated…why wouldn’t you choose something free and easily available to avoid that?
  • If you’re working out, you need those fluids even more. Water is the most important nutrient to an exerciser.
  • What do you do when you want to get more alcohol in you? Pre-drink of course! And the same thing works with water. You should drink 8-16 ounces an hour before exercise and 8 ounces 20 minutes before.
  • Keep at it during: 4-8 ounces every 15 minutes during the workout, and 16 ounces for every pound of body weight lost after the workout. (Weigh yourself before and after to find out how much fluid you’re losing.)
  • If you have trouble keeping track of how much you’re drinking, use a bottle that has the ounces clearly marked on it. (And if you’re a Nalgene girl, make sure you switch to a BPA-free version of the classic bottle.)
  • Unless you’re working out for more than 45 minutes or are exercising in extreme heat or humidity, you probably don’t need that Gatorade. Sports drinks have great marketing (I want to sweat purple! Yeah, it’s IN me!) but the average exerciser just doesn’t need them.
  • If you are going to use a sports drink, look for one that is 6 to 8 percent carbs. Less than that isn’t going to enhance performance; more than that can lead to cramping and nausea.
  • Despite what every skinny biatch in US Weekly says, drinking water alone doesn’t technically make you lose weight.
  • But…if it’s replacing soda, juice, or whole milk, yes, it’s going to help you lose.
  • Similarly, if your hunger is actually thirst (which is pretty common) and a glass of water will help you put down that snack, then again, it’s good for weight loss.
  • If you don’t like water, get creative! Make water infused with cucumbers, lemons, or fresh herbs. (Try this hot sometime — surprisingly good!)

When it comes to hydration, I just have two major pet peeves. The first is when guys insist on drinking Vitamin Water/Gatorade/Powerade when they are not doing anything athletic. Really boys? You don’t even take the stairs when faced with the option…you definitely don’t need magical liquids to wash down your hot wings.

The other is bottled water. Waste of money, waste of plastic, bad for the planet, so overrated…the list goes on. Sure there are times when it’s necessary, but buying bottled water to drink at home? Why??

But then this commercial makes it all better!

Bottoms up!

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