As the summer temperatures soar, even here in the UK, most feel the need to drink more. With any luck, they drink more plain water – but only too often they drink more tea, juice, or some sort of squash. Sometimes I do come across people who drink enough water on a regular basis – always a joyous day. I take a very active class, Body Combat, and it depresses me how often people have to stop to have a drink of water, especially in the hotter months. And we have stories of poor trainee soldiers dying in the heat, and, most recently, a postie dying in Lincolnshire. I’m sure these people were carrying enough water for the heat – but being well-hydrated is a year round event, not a frantic top up a couple of days before. So how to tell if we are drinking enough?
The standard test is the skin pinch: pinch the skin, release and immediately the skin flattens out again. Another test: cramps. If we are prone to muscle cramps, the first line of attack is to dramatically increase the amount of water we drink daily. It takes about 3 weeks to rehydrate fully, so persistence will tell if the main cause of the cramping was lack of water. Another test: place the hands on the lap and look at the back of them. The veins should be standing out. If they aren’t, then go and have a big glass of water before doing anything else! Assuming they are, lift the hands to just above the head then put them back on the lap. The veins should have completely flattened out. Completely and utterly – not mostly.
How much water should we drink every day? As with everything, a question that stirs up controversy, with some saying we need drink none at all because we get all we need from our fruit and veg. And then we have regular scare stories about the dangers of over-hydration. What are we all to do??
Having done the hydration tests the following amounts of water are recommended by exercise and health experts Paul Chek for the lower amount and Charles Poliquin the upper. If winter/cool and not active, then its the bodyweight in Kgs x .033. If active or its hot, then its the bodyweight in Kgs x .044.
So someone weighing 65 kgs/10.25 stones/143.3 lbs – should be drinking just over 2 litres of water a day if lazy, or 2.86 litres a day if active – or hot and lazy.
An 85Kg/13.38stone/187.4lbs person should be drinking 2.8 litres a day or 3.75 litres.
In hot weather, these numbers go up.
As already said, to achieve optimal hydration takes about 3 weeks of steady drinking.
If we are not drinking anything like enough water, then increase over a period of time, or we’ll constantly be needing to pee.
From my own experience, if we are dehydrated, then water tastes ghastly. All I can say is put a peg on the nose, line up a cup of tea or whatever, drink the water then the tea. To summarise: get a grip and get on with it.
It is possible to drink too much water, at which point, water tastes wonderful. The main problem comes from washing out the electrolytes in the body. So if it is hot and we are getting sweaty – and especially if we are doing heavy, therefore sweaty, exercise – we do need to increase our salt intake too. Taking a proper electrolyte drink will help, particularly the sweaty exercisers.
Going slightly off-piste: if we sweat heavily when exercising mildly- or even just walking down the street – this is a sign of zinc deficiency. Increase the zinc intake and loads of stuff will get better in the body as well as being less of a disaster in the armpits.
Carrying enough water for the conditions is essential – but even more essential is to be prepared for exercise and life year round by being well hydrated. Not only will our cramp free muscles be grateful, so will our brains, plasma and organs.