It’s well known by now that hydration is important, but unless you really understand how it works – how your body takes on, uses and sheds water, you can’t keep hydrated effectively. Today we’re taking a look at how you can make sure your hydration measures will carry you through a full day.
The NHS advises that you drink six to eight glasses of water (or rather fluid. This includes water but can also stretch to soft drinks, fruit juice, and even tea and coffee – though it’s healthiest to stick with low sugar, low caffeine options) every day. This replaces the water you lose by natural processes in the course of an average day.
It’s important to spread this hydration out throughout the day – it adds up to a total of 1.2 litres, which is a lot to drink at once! It can be uncomfortable, and drinking too much water at once can even be dangerous. You need to plan how you drink those six – eight glasses to get the maximum effectiveness out of your hydration, and you also need to think about electrolytes. Electrolytes are the soluble salts that you have dissolved in your body’s fluid reserves. They’re used for lots of important functions, from regulating your mood and your heartbeat, to helping transmit nerve impulses to muscles. If you rehydrate without topping up your electrolytes you could actually feel worse, as you dilute the levels you have left, making them less efficient.
When you’re planning a hydration strategy for the day you have to think about what your needs will be – there’s no one size fits all strategy. While the NHS advice of six to eight glasses of water works for the average day, you need to question if your day is indeed average. If you’re working in an air conditioned office in moderate weather, this may well be enough, but if you’re working hard in the gym, taking a long hike or even if the weather is warmer than usual you need to think again.
Think about when your body will be under the most stress, how much extra water you’ll be losing, and try to both up your water intake and schedule it to match. Set reminders to drink at the times you’ll need it most – shortly after waking, at times when you’re exposed to risks of dehydration, and then at intervals throughout the day. If you use additional rehydration products, ask yourself how long will a rehydration tablet last? Normally, one a day is sufficient, but if you’re pushing yourself very hard in challenging conditions you may need even more to stay hydrated all day.