Cheers to Good Hydration!

05.31.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

AP Photo

Jane Jakubczak MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN; Redskins Nutritionist

The fifth and final nutrition principle the Redskins Players apply during the Off Season Strength and Conditioning Program is to "Stay Hydrated"(review the 5 principles here). We'll talk about the importance of hydration for women, the effects of dehyrdation and how to tell if you are hydrated enough.

As a sports dietitian, hydration is one of my favorite topics because it affects every aspect of a person's health and performance. Better yet, small changes have instant returns! Redskins players are well aware that dehydration significantly affects performance in the weight room and on the playing field but did you know dehydration could have farther-reaching influence on how we feel and perform, especially for women?

Two studies recently conducted at the University of Connecticut's Human Performance Laboratory revealed that even mild dehydration (1.5% of body weight) affects one's mood, energy level and ability to think clearly. The study involved young, healthy, moderately active men and women.

The researchers found mild dehydration caused:

• Headaches
• Fatigue
• Irritability
• Anxiety
• Reduced working memory and attention
• Difficulty in concentrating
• Perceived tasks as more difficult (physical and mental) 

Physical functions of water in the body include:

• Moisten tissues in mouth, eyes and nose
• Protects body organs and tissues
• Dissolves minerals and other nutrients to make them accessible to the body
• Regulates body temperature
• Lubricates joints
• Flushes out waste products from the kidneys and liver
• Carries nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body

How can you optimize your hydration state?

Recommendations vary slightly and depend on body size, age, gender, health status, etc. However, a safe goal to strive for is to consume at least 2 liters of fluids a day for women (3+liters a day for men) as your foundation. Exercise, hot weather, high altitude and illness will add to your fluid needs.

If you like math and exact numbers/equations the following equations can be used to determine your basic fluid needs:
0.5 ounces x Body Weight in Pounds = Daily Fluid Requirement in ounces
0.034 ounces x Daily Caloric Intake = Daily Fluid Requirement in ounces

Water vs. Fluids

You may notice the recommendations use the word "fluid" vs. "water". I strongly believe water is by far the best fluid to consume, but other beverages contribute to your hydration as well including milk, juice and sports drink. Fluids that do not count towards hydration include alcohol. Although caffeine is now recognized as not causing dehydration, I still counsel my clients not to count caffeinated beverages towards their 2-liter fluid goal.

Beverages aren't the only part of our diet that contributes to hydration. Fruit and vegetables contain up to 90% water, improving your hydration state - Yet another motivator to increase your fruit and vegetable consumption!

Determining If You're Dehydrated

Monitoring your urine (also known as "The Pee Test") is an easy and effective way to tell if you are dehydrated, or where exactly you are on the hydration scale:

• Color: Should be pale yellow (lemonade color or lighter). If your urine is darker yellow (think apple juice) you are dehydrated.
• Note: If you take a multi-vitamin or B-Complex supplement, you may not be able to use the color of urine as a hydration indicator because your urine may be a bright yellow color due to the B-vitamin excretion. Click here for more information.
• Volume: Should be copious and often. You should be visiting the restroom regularly, if you are going long periods of time without urinating, you may need to drink more.

The above offers recommendation for your base fluid needs, to learn about hydration during exercise check out the following from the American College of Sports Medicine website.

- Jane

I'd love to hear how WOW members stay hydrated! Please share in the comment section below.

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