Why water is important for everyone and how to determine our needs for adequate fluid intake
How much water should I drink? The topic of water is extensive, interesting and exciting. After all, a large percentage of us are water. It is no coincidence that some of the most common questions we receive are related to the vital fluid:
- How much water should I drink? “
- Should I drink more water when I play sports?”
- Do I drink enough water while training? “
- Am I overdoing the water?”
And because needs vary from person to person, it is very difficult to give an unambiguous answer. However, we will try to bring a little more clarity, interesting facts and recommendations that everyone can adapt to their own daily lives. How important is water for the training person?
What are the physiological functions of water? How much water should I drink?
Water is vital to life and there is hardly anyone who can dispute it
It is not a macronutrient, but it is no less valuable for health, which is why we need to keep our body optimally hydrated. Approximately 60% of total body weight is made up of water. This percentage is not constant and can vary between people depending on the body composition they have.
Take, for example, two people of the same weight. The former has a lower percentage of fat and more muscle mass, while the latter has more fat and less muscle mass. Theoretically, the first person will have more water in his body, because different cells contain different amounts of water. Muscle cells contain 75%, blood – 83%, bones – 22%, adipose tissue – 25%. Some of the functions and roles of water in the human body are:
- Transport function: water transports nutrients to the cells and accordingly removes waste products from them;
- Role of catalyst in various chemical reactions;
- Joint lubricant;
- Body temperature regulator. Have you ever wondered why we sweat? When the body temperature rises, we begin to sweat to cool the body;
- Protective function, protecting internal organs;
- Source of minerals.
What factors affect the availability of water in the body? For the normal functioning of the body it is important to maintain a balance of fluids – those taken should be equal to the consumed. We lose water through urine, fecal matter, sweating and exhaled air, and we take in through the food we eat and the fluids we drink. On average, the body of a healthy adult loses about 1500 ml of water through physiological processes, and this loss increases with
- Exercise; Warm / hot weather;
- Low humidity;
- High altitude;
- Excessive consumption of beverages containing caffeine and alcohol.
Approximate water loss through physiological processes in a healthy mature individual (in ml)
Loss without feeling (through the skin and when breathing) ~ 800
Loss through urine ~ 500
Through sweating (without training) ~ 100
Through feces ~ 100
Total ~ 1500
However, many people do not get enough fluids because they drink water when they feel thirsty, but it appears only after 1-2% of the fluid level in the body has been lost.
Why is getting enough water important? How much water should I drink?
In the world of “healthy living” there is often talk about dehydration and how dangerous it is, but in fact there is another disturbance in the water balance, which is no less undesirable. That is why we are talking about optimal water supply – neither too little nor too high (according to the needs of the person).
Dehydration occurs when fluid loss is greater than fluid intake and the factors that can contribute to this are: vomiting, diarrhea, trauma, kidney problems, diabetes, fever, profuse sweating and more. Dehydration affects not only the water balance but also the electrolyte balance. If the body loses 10% of its water reserves, the normal functioning of the body is disrupted. Symptoms include:
- Muscle cramps;
- Irregular heartbeat;
Loss of 20 percent or more of water supplies leads to life-threatening symptoms, and if the loss does not stop in time, it can be fatal. The body does not adapt to dehydration, so it is important not to wait to get thirsty to drink water.
Hyponatremia is another dangerous condition that is characterized by consuming too much water relative to the sodium content in the body (this is important to emphasize). Normal blood sodium concentration is between 136-145 mEq / L. Hyponatremia occurs when this concentration falls below 135 mEq / L. There are 3 main types of hyponatremia: hypovolemic, euvolemic and hypervolemic.
- Hypovolemic is associated with salt loss in the body and occurs when blood plasma, body fluids and sodium content fall;
- Euvolemic occurs when blood plasma and water in the body increase, but sodium levels remain unchanged;
- We have hypervolemic sodium when blood plasma, body water and sodium increase, but sodium levels do not increase in proportion to body water.
Symptoms of hyponatremia include: gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting, headache, impaired brain and heart function, dizziness.
How do I determine How much water should I drink?
As already mentioned, most people drink fluids when they are already thirsty, which is not a reliable and objective criterion for maintaining an optimal balance of fluids in the body. Things are getting more complicated against the background of the mass diet, in which foods with a higher fluid content are minimized.
That is why it is important for a person to determine their individual needs for fluid intake, as well as to improve their diet. There are two main ways this can happen. You can use them as a basis, spend some time trying, self-analyzing and monitoring to determine the amount of fluids that make you feel good in different situations in your lifestyle. Even if you get a number according to one of the formulas, in practice you may have different needs due to a number of factors.
In warmer weather, you may need to drink an additional 500 ml of fluids, and if you do physical activity (+ heavy sweating), this number may increase. The water you need for the day can come from liquids (water, decaffeinated drinks, soups, tea) and food (mainly fruits and vegetables, milk). On average, people consume about a liter of water with the food they eat (which, of course, can vary between lower and higher values). If you have determined by a formula that you need 3 liters of fluid a day and let’s say you are already taking 1 liter through your diet, then this means that you need to drink 2 liters of water.
Determining fluid needs through body weight
You are probably familiar with this method – for every kilogram of body weight
you should take between 30 and 40 ml of water. If you weigh 60 kg, you will need 1.8 – 2.4 liters of fluid per day (60 x 30 ml = 1800 ml; 60 x 40 ml = 2400 ml). Newborns and children should have higher fluid needs than adults – 150 ml per kilogram of body weight in newborns and between 50-60 ml in children.
Calculation of fluid needs by BMR
You need to know the calories needed to maintain your body weight (BMR – basal metabolic rate). For every 100 kcal of BMR, take between 80 and 110 ml of water. If your BMR is 2000 kcal, this means that you need a daily intake of 1.6 – 2.2 liters of water (2000 kcal: 100 kcal = 20; 20 x 80 ml = 1600 ml; 20 x 110 ml = 2200 ml).
And if I play sports?
Adding physical activity increases the need for fluid intake. Many people think that it is enough to drink water after a workout, not before and during. There is a common plot in which you do not drink enough water during the day, train in the evening after work and only then “catch up” with water. Adequate hydration requires attention to fluid intake not only throughout the day, but also around the workout.
Low- and medium-intensity exercise is unlikely to require serious and regular hydration during exercise, and as long as the athlete ingests essential fluids on a daily basis, he or she will be able to easily maintain hydration. However, if the training is very intense and / or prolonged and causes severe fluid loss, it is good to pay attention to water intake before, during and after exercise. In such cases, the addition of electrolytes (and in specific sports – carbohydrates) may be considered.
Recommendations for fluid intake around heavy physical activity and severe fluid loss
30 minutes before training — 500 ml
During training — 250 * ml every 15 minutes
After training — 500 – 1000 ml
This number depends on body weight, body composition, ambient temperature, training intensity and duration. The heavier a person is, the more muscle mass, the hotter it is where he trains, the more intense and long the workout will be, the more fluid he will need.
Not drinking enough water?
If you know that you do not drink enough water, you have difficulty increasing it, but you still do not intend to work on improving the condition, then I recommend you read this reading. Here are more practical ideas:
- Keep a bottle of water at your workplace and drink it regularly;
- Carry a small bottle of water when you leave the house;
- For each beverage containing caffeine, drink one glass of water;
- How to drink more water;
- Eating enough foods with good water content
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