Water is the most deficient nutrient in Americans today. You can go about 8 weeks without food, but only days without water. We have more access to clean water than most people do in the entire world, and yet we often resort to fluids that dehydrate us. As CrossFitters, staying hydrated is foundational to your recovery. Water makes up 55-60% of your mass, in all tissues, and most cells in the body. As hard as you work, and as sweaty as you can get, it is absolutely necessary to hydrate to stay healthy. Also, being well hydrated before and after you walk into the gym will allow your body to give all it possibly can in a workout.
These are some the things water does for you:
Improves oxygen delivery to cells
Enables cellular hydration
Moistens oxygen for easier breathing
Cushions bones and joints
Absorbs shocks to joints
Regulates body temperature
Prevents tissues from sticking
Improves cell-to-cell communications
Maintains normal electrical properties of cells
Empowers the body’s natural healing process
Can you see how important water is for baseline human function, much less what you are doing in the gym everyday?! If the body drops in water content by just 2%, fatigue will settle in. Here’s some good information about signs of dehydration I pulled from one of the NTA presentations provided to me through my program:
So if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, start by making sure you are hydrated. Staying hydrated needs to be foundational to any recovery, especially injury-related. Dehydrated muscles, joints, tissues and organs will not benefit from rehab work as well.
The body produces 8% of water through metabolic processes, then 28% comes from food, and 64% from liquids. That means that you need to hydrate continually. Here are some good ways to stay on top of it for optimal health and performance in the gym:
Drink 8 ounces of warm or room temperature water in the morning first thing. Your body is dehydrated after a night of sleep, and you will kick start metabolism and curb hunger the rest of the day by starting with water. Add fresh squeezed lemon to make it easier to get down.
Drink ½ your bodyweight in ounces per day.
If you drink a diuretic, like coffee or tea, drink an additional 12 ounces of water for every 8 ounces of diuretic. (Or you can think of it as 1.5 ounces more water of diuretic.)
Use best sources of water available. Tap water won’t kill you…maybe? The truth is water treatment facilities add chemicals to water to make it sanitary. This is good, and eliminates disease. But chemicals, like chlorine, have their own risks. Just make sure you are fully aware of the risks, no matter where you land on this. If treated water makes you feel weird, consider filters or local spring water. Also note that both tap water contents, and spring water contents will vary depending on where you are in the world, geographically. For example, some folks are leary of flouide in their tap water. But, locally sourced spring water from Eldorado Springs, for example, does actually have flouride in it. Just a lot less and naturally occuring. Some state laws require spring water to be treated before being transported to a bottling facility, not making it very "springy" anymore. Alternatively, distilled water eliminates all minerals from water completely, leaving you to supplement minerals. Choose what's best for you and do your research before making a choice.
Drink between meals. Chugging water during meals can make digestion harder, and flush nutrients through your system before they can be absorbed.
Sip water throughout the day-steady flow throughout the day is better chugging a few times.
Make sure you have enough electrolytes. As athletes, stay on top of potassium, sodium, and magnesium. Water intake requires electrolytes to absorb hydrogen into your cells and tissues, but strenuous activity can quickly deplete these three minerals from critical organs. All your organs will benefit from electrolyte intake, but your adrenals will be especially happy for this. Post workout shakes need to have these three minerals, or coconut water is awesome for this! Also, you can salt your water.
Do not drink more than one gallon of water a day! Water intoxication, and overhydration is a thing. In athletic environments, a complete loss of electrolytes is more probable. If an athlete is already depleted and tries to quench thirst with water that doesn't contain electrolytes, this can lead to too much water consumption.
When you feel thirsty, drink. When you don't feel thirsty, don't drink. Your body will let you know. If you are drinking a lot of water and still feeling thirsty, try drinking more electrolytes.
Last, consider what you are drinking out of regularly. Plastics, when heated by warm liquids or by sitting in the hot sun, do leach into your water. Many of these plastics are considered damaging, and even carcinogenic. It is known, at the very least, that BPA is an endocrine disruptor, causing concern about its effects on hormonal balance. More research needs to be done on this, but because the FDA takes an innocent until proven guilty approach, I personally would err on the side of caution.
Keep in mind that hydration needs are unique to each person, place, and activity level. So take all of this info into account and adjust as needed!