by Aaron Friday
It is well within our control to be hydrated. We can, and we should, plan to be hydrated for our workouts.
If you’ve ever powered through a hard workout in a dehydrated state, you know this intuitively — it is not how you want to be training. You’re tired, you feel weak, and you can’t wait for the session to be over! It feels terrible. Hydration is vital to athletic performance (to say nothing of our health). Even a low level of dehydration (2% of bodyweight) can measurably impair performance.
The NSCA recommends a constant state of what is called euhydration (basically, “hydrated enough”). In euhydration, we are not thirsty and our urine is pale and plentiful. Once in this state, we want to maintain it throughout the day by drinking enough fluid.
They make the following recommendation:
Drink 0.5 to 1.0 ounces of fluid per pound of bodyweight every day.
Use this table to find the recommended fluid intake for your bodyweight.
|BW (lbs)||BW (kg)||Ounces||Liters|
|100||45||50-100||1.5 – 3.0|
|110||50||55-110||1.6 – 3.3|
|120||55||60-120||1.8 – 3.5|
|130||59||65-130||1.9 – 3.8|
|140||64||70-140||2.1 – 4.1|
|150||68||75-150||2.2 – 4.4|
|160||73||80-160||2.4 – 4.7|
|170||77||85-170||2.5 – 5.0|
|180||82||90-180||2.7 – 5.3|
|190||86||95-190||2.8 – 5.6|
|200||91||100-200||3.0 – 5.9|
|210||95||105-210||3.1 – 6.2|
|220||100||110-220||3.3 – 6.5|
|230||105||115-230||3.4 – 6.8|
|240||109||120-240||3.5 – 7.1|
|250||114||125-250||3.7 – 7.4|
Whether the low or high end of the range applies to you depends on:
- Your body composition (muscle cells need a lot more water than fat cells, so leaner people need more fluids)
- Your activity level (the more active you are, the more fluid you need)
- How much you sweat (water lost through sweat needs to be replenished)
- The amount of water in your food (if you get a lot of fluid in your food — cucumbers, watermelon, and the like — you don’t need to drink as much fluid)
So, if you weigh 200 pounds, the NSCA recommends you drink 3.0 to 5.9 liters of fluid every day. If that sounds like a lot to you, you may have found your next self-improvement project! Drinking water is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to get healthier and fitter. Keep in mind, though, that 5.9 is the maximum recommendation for this bodyweight, and there is no benefit to being overhydrated.
If you maintain euhydration throughout the day, there is no need to get extra hydrated before exercise. However, if you realize that you’re a bit dehydrated and have a workout coming up, it’s worthwhile to try to get hydrated. Start as early as you can and drink water regularly over several hours. The water needs to be in your body’s tissues, which takes awhile, and some of it just gets peed out, so it’s not a perfectly efficient process. Having a little protein, carbohydrate, and/or sodium with your water will help you hydrate faster.
Note: If you plan to exercise for two hours or more, tend to lose a lot of sodium through sweat, or have issues with hyponatremia, be sure to add sodium to your food/fluids in addition to being hydrated.
During a workout, the idea is to replace the water you lose – through sweat, breathing, and metabolism. If you sweat a lot, you’re not likely to keep up with water losses entirely, but you should make an effort to stay hydrated.
After workouts, you need to replace what you’ve lost. The NSCA recommends drinking 24 ounces of water per pound of bodyweight lost. Remember, it’s not a perfectly efficient process, otherwise you’d need only 16 ounces per pound lost. Also, as mentioned earlier, adding a bit of protein, carbohydrate, and/or sodium will help you rehydrate faster.