Hydration 101

hydration 101

Importance of hydration while working out and living a fit lifestyle

Water, like the rest of nutrients, is undoubtedly a vital element for the human body, even more so if we practice some kind of physical activity such as working out,  running, cycling, hiking, mountaineering, etc., because it is enough to say, that a loss 20% of its content in the body, can lead to death.

Hydration in exercise and sports, is a topic that covers many aspects, as there are factors that directly influence the quantities to be consumed such as age, sex, the intensity and duration of physical activity, the characteristics of the environment and the qualities of each individual.

Over 60% of the body consist water, and a good part of it is lost through sweat. The practice of exercise leads to an increase in sweating and therefore an increase in the loss and need for water in the body. Just as dietary recommendations are made based on the variety, quality and balance of the food we eat, it is also necessary to monitor the quantity and quality of what we drink.

When the liquid lost during physical activity or sports is not replenished, it leads to a state of dehydration, which is accompanied by several side effects that negatively affects, not only our physical performance but can also have serious consequences on our health.

Therefore maintaining adequate hydration before, during and after the completion of physical activity is essential for the responsible and safe practice of any exercise or sport, thus helping us achieve greater physical performance, as well as the following:

  • Facilitates the transport of nutrients, vitamins and minerals through the body.
  • Activates the essential enzymes to supply the energy the body needs.
  • It favors the elimination of impurities and toxins from the organism.
  • Lubricates and provides structural support to tissues and joints.
  • In addition, maintaining a constant water balance during the development of any physical activity or sports, has a vital role in the regulation of body temperature , since during physical exercise about 75% of the energy used dissipates in the form of heat and, thanks to the evaporation of sweat through the skin, the body is able to maintain muscle activity without experiencing an excessive rise in body temperature.

The Water and Health Research Institute recommends that, to obtain good performance during physical activity, we must maintain a constant water balance and avoid dehydration. This can be achieved by ingest the following amounts of water:

  • Before : 500 ml (just over 2 cups) 1-2 hours before.
  • During : 100-200 ml (1/2 – 1 cup) every 15-20 minutes.
  • After : To maintain proper re hydration after a physical or sports activity, it is advisable to drink 1.5 liters of water per kg (2lb) lost

Dehydration can cause a decrease in physical performance and an increase in fatigue. Therefore, for a responsible practice of physical exercise, we must pay attention to body weight:

  • If you loose up to 1% of your weight after exercise, you will notice how the sensation of thirst appears, this is already a symptom of alarm.
  • The loss of 2.8% of body weight leads to a decrease in physical performance by 20-30%, increased fatigue and reduced response time.
  • A weight loss of 10% would entail the need for immediate medical assistance.
  • The absence of 10-15% of total body water, would even risk death.


It is true that there is water in the composition of many foods such as fruits, vegetables, etc. But it is also true that the best way to hydrate is by drinking water , as indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) : Which recommend that, of the total amount of water our body needs per day (between 2 and 2.5 liters under normal conditions of activity and temperature), 80% is by direct intake of water and the remaining 20% ​​through the food we eat.

It is advised that water intake be done at regular intervals and it is important to note that the best hydration for our body shouldn’t be about obeying our thirst, but we must anticipate the needs of our body and not wait to be thirsty before drinking water. The sensation of thirst is already a warning symptom, indicating that the body is dehydrated. This symptom can be accompanied by loss of appetite, malaise, fatigue, weakness and headaches and involves the loss of between 1 and 2% of our body weight.


If you go to the gym , or while indulging in any outdoor sport, remember to always carry a bottle of mineral water, to ensure a healthy and natural hydration at all times.

It is important to hydrate before, during and after exercise . In general terms it is advisable to drink 500 ml two hours before exercise, between 100-150 ml every 15-20 minutes during exercise, and 500 ml after exercise.

Thirst is a late symptom of dehydration in our body . Do not wait until you are thirsty, because it does not appear until you have lost 1 or 2% of body water, ie when we are dehydrated and performance has begun to decrease. It is ideal to drink the water between (50-72 ° F) so that the body assimilates it quicker.

It is advisable to drink in small sips and regularly during exercise, so we stay hydrated constantly.

It is necessary to avoid drinking during moments of high respiratory frequency (hyperventilation), because when hydrating at this moment we will be depriving ourselves of oxygen when we needs it most. Drinking at the beginning of a descent or period where the respiratory rate has decreased favors the assimilation of liquids, however we do not have to drink too much, because it can cause discomfort in the stomach.

Staying hydrated is one of the keys to sporting success , especially in long-term events, which is why it is of paramount importance to stay hydrated during physical activity.

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