Two litres of water before 2pm each day can help optimise hydration, boosting performance and productivity at work. It makes good sense, especially when over fifty percent of our body weight is made-up of water. Forgetting to drink water, air-conditioning and heat early in the day can cause dehydration which can lead to lethargy and tiredness and result in an unplanned trip to the coffee shop or vending machine in the afternoon!
Why do we need water anyway?
We all know that water is essential for life, but it is also essential for good health. It helps us with bodily functions like biochemical reactions, the health of our cells, digestion, absorbing nutrients, eliminating water and regulating out body temperature. It also keeps us focussed when the 3pm slump arrives and helps us to stop over-eating by keeping us full.
But just how much is enough?
Food can contribute about 20% of our total water needs but the rest must come from water or other fluids. Our body must hold a minimum amount of water to help our kidneys work effectively. Depending on our body mass, water can account for 50 -80% of our body weight. Therefore, our fluid needs can be highly variable. They are approximately 2.5-3L per day in a 70kg person.
How much water should we drink each day?
For men 19->70 yrs 2.6L / day (about 10 cups)
For women 19 ->70 yrs 2.1L / day (about 8 cups)
This includes fluids from water, milk and other drinks, excluding alcohol (which is dehydrating).
It does not include water from food.
As little as 2% loss of body weight from dehydration can affect physical and mental performance.
Top tips to stay hydrated
Drink small and regular amounts of water throughout the day. Most of us should be aiming to drink around 2-3 L (this does not include what you drink around exercise).
Have a plan. If you are exercising for more than 30 minutes, you should have a fluid intake plan. Weighing yourself before and after exercise can help you to gauge your fluid needs. A kilogram loss of body weight represents a need for 1.5 Litres of fluid to be replaced, to account for fluid lost as urine. This should all be replaced within 4-6 hours after exercise.
Use sports drinks. When exercise sessions are of high intensity or last longer than 60 minutes, sports drinks can help replace lost electrolytes. Benny Button recommends a natural alternative such as coconut water.
Check your lips. A dry mouth or lips can be one of the early signs of dehydration. Sip. Sip. Sip.
Top-up in the office. Air conditioning can zap your fluid levels before you know it. Keep a water bottle on your desk and top up regularly.
Day-to-day hydration plan
1. Drink a 400 ml of water on waking or with breakfast.
2. Drink 2-3 L of fluid each day (excluding what you drink around exercise).
3. Drink little and often, especially in the morning.
4. Avoid fizzy drinks and adding sugar to caffeinated beverages.
5. Drink no more than 2-3 cups of caffeinated tea and coffee each day.
6. Avoid caffeine and alcohol immediately after training.
Remember, use your urine as a guide.
If you are thirsty, you can already be dehydrated enough to impair your thinking and performance. Dark-coloured urine or a relatively small volume is an indication of dehydration and should signal you to drink more fluids throughout the day.
Written by Nicole Dynan, The Good Nutrition Co., in partnership with Benny Button.