Hydration is as important as any other topic in bodybuilding, because it affects everything else. Your health, performance, body composition, sleep, recovery, mental focus, and even joint health are all affected by your state of hydration. I’m not talking about being hydrated for your workout. In general, from the time you wake up to the moment you go to bed, sustaining a constant state of hydration is critical for us all.
Renal function refers to your kidneys, which are responsible for processing a lot of waste from your system. As with any organ, kidneys can come under stress when you’re not hydrated, especially when you consider the amount of food, protein, and supplements you’re asking them to process. Consuming enough water helps the kidneys function properly, processing the waste products within your body, which in turn helps reduce toxins inside you.
If you’re dehydrated, then your renal function will immediately suffer, potentially putting you at risk of suffering from kidney stones.
Failing to remain hydrated can elevate your blood pressure in a matter of days, as your body begins to gradually shut down parts of the capillary network. As a result, there’s more pressure put on your more significant arteries, which is where the increase in blood pressure comes from during a state of dehydration.
You don’t need me to explain why experiencing an increase in blood pressure can be a negative thing—in this instance, one you could completely avoid with some effort.
Being dehydrated by just two to three percent can reduce overall performance in the gym by up to 20 percent. This is because your ability to transport nutrients, regenerate ATP, and flush the body of lactic acid is drastically reduced when you’re not hydrated correctly. All of a sudden your workout becomes far more challenging than it should be, thus reducing your overall intensity, which naturally affects your results.
I’m sure you’ve had workouts when you’ve felt very lethargic as a result of not drinking enough water. Going back to the point above about blood pressure, your capillary networks are not as freely open in a state of hydration, which means blood flow to the muscles will also suffer.
Being hydrated means upping your overall water intake significantly, which in turn means your body is going to be producing more urine, which is a warm fluid. The energy required means that you’re burning more calories at rest just by drinking more. Combine that with the fact that the cold water you’re drinking forces your body to constantly try to maintain its core temperature, which again gives a boost to thermogenesis.
It has often been said that the simplest way to burn fat is to drink more water. Increased water intake will also significantly improve your rate of satiety, which means cravings and overall hunger will occur less.
Depending on your source of information, muscle is 70 to 80 percent water, which says something very important about the value of hydration when it comes to building muscle. When you consider things like cell swelling and the volumization of a muscle, this largely depends on having enough fluid present.
The ironic result of not drinking enough water is that you will appear more watery since your body holds on to sodium when dehydrated, which makes you hold more water subcutaneously. Having a constant flow of water into your body helps push through any water retention, and it also improves your sodium balance.
Nutrient transportation, assimilation, overall gut health, and even joint health all correlate to being hydrated. In a state of dehydration, your gut cannot process food correctly; therefore, it cannot assimilate the nutrients from that food as efficiently. This will affect your ability to recover and grow, as well as perform.
You can clearly see how being dehydrated can affect multiple areas of your body, which will have an extremely negative effect on your overall results. The key to remaining hydrated is to consume at least one gallon of water per day and potentially more depending on your weight, your occupation, and the climate you reside in. For instance, in a humid climate like Florida, you might need 1.5 gallons per day. On top of this, you need to add extra natural electrolytes to your water and lightly season your meals with sea salt to help improve fluid retention within the muscles.
As I mentioned at the start, this isn’t just about performing well in the gym. It’s about all the problems that dehydration can cause you and the effect those problems will have on your health and results. There’s no excuse to ever allow yourself to become dehydrated.
BY NEIL “YODA” HILL