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Hydration: what you’re doing wrong


While consuming the appropriate amount of water is important year-round, summer is a particularly dangerous time when it comes to dehydration. When it’s hot outside, your body temperature rises and your sweat rate increases, making it essential to drink extra fluids to replace what you lose and lower your body temperature.

Use this guide to test your hydration and learn common mistakes when it comes to H2O.

Are you properly hydrated? Take the test.

1. The first way to measure your hydration status is to examine the color of your urine. If you’re hydrated, your urine will appear to be a very pale yellow–almost clear. If your urine is much darker, this means that your body is dehydrated.

2. The other method is used to determine your sweat rate. To do this, weigh yourself naked before performing any exercise. Once you’ve finished exercising, weigh yourself naked again (sweat-soaked clothing will give you inaccurate results). For every pound lost, drink 16 fluid ounces to replace it.

So you’re dehydrated. Here’s what you might be doing wrong.

Mistake #1: You don’t drink in the morning.

If you are an early morning exerciser, keep in mind that your body is already in a somewhat dehydrated state when you wake up. Start drinking as soon as you wake up, and be sure to drink at least eight ounces of water before you begin your workout.

Mistake #2: You confusing the need for water with the need for food.

The need for water is often confused with hunger, which can lead to dehydration and overeating. Next time you’re feeling hungry, drink water before you eat to make sure your hunger pangs are actually hunger pangs. 

Mistake #3: You aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables.

Your daily water intake doesn’t have to consist of only water. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of hydration. If you’re feeling waterboarded from constantly chugging water, reach for an apple instead. One medium apple contains approximately six ounces of water.

Mistake #4: You insist on eight glasses a day.

It’s time to kick this myth to the curb. Hydration needs vary from person to person, and the exact amount of water you need is dependent on your size and weight. And since you can also get water from foods like fruits and veggies (an apple, for instance, can provide an entire cup of water), you may not need to guzzle as much if you’re eating water-rich meals and snacks. In general, though, if you take your your weight and divide it by two, that should give you roughly the number of ounces of water you need in a day, says Keri Gans, M.S., R.D., author of The Small Change Diet.

Mistake #5: You avoid drinks like coffee to stay hydrated.

It’s a commonly held belief that coffee and tea are dehydrating because of their caffeine content, but it’s recently been proven that isn’t the case. “While the caffeine in coffee and tea can be a diuretic—which causes fluid loss—the fluid in them typically makes up for it.” So your daily Starbucks habit is still better than sipping on nothing.

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