5 Signs You’re Dehydrated During Your Workout

As we approach summer, it becomes easier and easier to suffer from dehydration, especially if you train outdoors or are a distance runner or cyclist. Know the signs

1. You’re Thirsty

Obvious, we know, but if you are thirsty you are already mildly dehydrated. Men should take in approximately three litres (about 13 cups) of liquid a day—but that’s just a baseline, according to the Institute of Medicine. If you’re exercising in hot and humid weather, you’ll need to fill up on more fluid. Sick of water? Keep in mind that water-dense fruits and vegetables, like celery, cucumbers, and melon, also help with hydration. Or try a supp.

2. You’re dizzy or fatigued

If you feel a rush of lightheadedness when you stand up quickly after sitting down to stretch, it’s a good sign that your body’s low on H2O, as your blood is thicker and is harder to pump.

3. Your heart rate is out of whack

Caught your breath, but heart still racing? When dehydration decreases the volume of blood in your body, your heart speeds up as it attempts to pump out the same amount of blood it would if you were properly hydrated.

4. Cramps

When you drench your T-shirt during a workout, you’re not just pumping water out of your pores. Your body’s also flushing out electrolytes likes sodium and potassium. Electrolytes are essential to proper muscle and nerve function, and when they’re off balance it’s easy to end up with cramp

5. Pee the colour of Fanta

One of the easiest ways to tell if you’re dehydrated: Take a peek at your pee before you flush. If it’s anything but a light yellow, or better still, clear, than you’re probably dehydrated.

Why does my body need water?

The male body is on average 69% water, so you’re more water than anything else. While you can go longer for a month without food, you won’t survive more than a few days without water. The reasons include its role in protecting and cushioning the brain, spinal column and other tissues, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, and removing toxins and waste products through perspiration and excretion, among many others. Most water leaves your body through perspiration and excretion (sweat and urine), but significant quantities are also lost through breathing as water vapour. Adequate water intake is required daily to prevent dehydration, which can lead to a rapid decline in mental and physical performance. It’s very easy to lose a lot of body water when training intensively, especially in hot conditions.

2) What happens when I get dehydrated?

The less water in your body, the thicker your blood. This forces your heart to pump harder to deliver oxygen to your brain, organs, muscles and every cell in your body. If you’re dehydrated your body will be going haywire trying to fix the problem and as dehydration gets worse you’ll feel thirsty, dizzy, irritable and have a headache. Without water at this point your condition will worsen into fatigue and exhaustion, with poor motor function so you’ll be clumsy and unco-ordinated. From here, your condition will worsen with nausea, dizziness and vomiting all common before your eyesight fails and other functions begin to shut down as you fall into a coma. Without remedy, death soon follows.

3) How does dehydration affect how I perform?

Even a 1% decline in fluids a²s a percentage of total bodyweight can negatively impair performance, according to research from the California University of Pennsylvania, while a decline of 3% and higher significantly increases the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Dehydration of 2% impairs mental performance in tasks that require attention, psychomotor and immediate memory skills, according to the American Journal of College Nutrition, which is no surprise because your brain is predominantly water. The more activity you do and the higher the temperature, the more your daily fluid intake must increase to avoid dehydration. Research in the journal Nutrition advises drinking 200ml to 285ml of water for every ten to 20 minutes of moderate exercise. If it’s hot and you’re working out intensively then you will need more, and you may need electrolytes too.

4) Why might I need electrolytes?

If you’re training for less than an hour in average temperature and humidity you’ll be fine to rehydrate with plain H ² 0, but when training is longer, more intensive or in hotter conditions, taking on 1.7g to 2.9g of electrolytes per litre of water helps your body absorb fluids more quickly. 

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