“You must drink a lot of water!” How many times have you been told that? I’m guessing a few. When it comes to water, it seems we just can’t get enough. But do you find often find that despite knocking back bottle after bottle, you still feel thirsty and dehydrated? That’s because most of the H2O we drink isn’t actually hydrating us much at all.
You may drink three liters of plain water a day, but only 50 percent of that is actually absorbed.
“People claim to drink ‘plenty’ of water throughout the day, a broad term in my opinion. However, they don’t consider the effectiveness of the fluid they’re drinking,” explains Michael Sole, Performance Nutritionist at Beyond Human Training & Nutrition. “You may drink three liters of plain water a day, but only 50 percent of that is actually absorbed due to poor mineral content. If you still claim to be bloated, have headaches, or are just “not feeling right”, it’s likely the result of an inability to maintain optimal hydration.”
So, before you reach for that bottle of water, there are a few things you need to know. From misleading claims on labels to how to boost your hydration levels, Sole reveals his top water tips to Goodness. Read on to find out what he has to say.
Not Just Any Water Will Do
The way in which water hydrates us is a bit more complex, and this is why the type of water you’re drinking is important. For water to be absorbed and do its job properly, a reasonable amount of sodium must be present in order to ensure that the water can be absorbed through our intestinal wall.
Unfortunately for those of us who exercise or are deemed healthy, I label drinkable tap water and most bottled water (particularly here in the Middle East) as “plain water”. By plain, I mean extremely deficient in the essential minerals – sodium in particular – that aid in the absorption process. Due to increasing rates of hypertension, CVD, and other dietary and lifestyle-related diseases, governments and water companies have introduced and jumped on the bandwagon of selling “low sodium” water with the hopes that reducing overall sodium intake may support the health of our population.
Research supporting the positive association between high sodium intake in relation to such disorders is often done via large-scale observational studies. Similar to a lot of “bias” research, there is no reason to identify one single ingredient/mineral/nutrient as the direct cause of such issues.
A lot of the time, people who consume high-sodium diets (a lot of fast food and generally sub-optimal foods) are those who do not exercise, are overweight, and lead an overall unhealthy lifestyle – all of which are greater contributors to morbidity and mortality.
What to Drink
For those who work out regularly or are looking to optimize their overall health, this “plain” water isn’t good enough. We can either fork out and pay for the more expensive mineral-rich waters (Fiji water is my favorite, but can be really pricey) or simply go about it ourselves and do the following: sprinkle a pinch of quality sea salt in your water and add a squeeze of lemon or lime. The sodium in the salt will provide the necessary aid in the absorption process. Meanwhile, the lemon or lime will not only buffer the taste of salty water but also give the mineral content a slight boost.
What About Coconut Water?
Coconut water has made a name for itself as the ultimate hydration drink, especially because A-list celebrities swear by the stuff. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the stuff as it doesn’t taste amazing – a waste of calories in my opinion – and the balance between sodium and potassium is not ideal for aiding in hydration. They advertise that one 330ml bottle is the equivalent to four bananas in terms of potassium content.
If you are eating an array of fruits and vegetables, all of which contain substantial amounts of potassium, you may actually be overdoing it by frequently guzzling down coconut water. You will also find yourself running to the toilet very fast and very often because coconut water tends to have a gastric emptying effect if you drink too much.
By all means, drink it in moderation – maybe use it to spice up a smoothie or post-workout protein shake. But, honestly, if you are drinking coconut water to hydrate, you’re better off opting for the homemade hydration drink that I just recommended.
Top Water Tips
– If you’re drinking tap or plain bottled water, bulk it out with some lemon and a small pinch of sea salt. Himalayan sea salt is said to be the most mineral-rich.
– Aim to drink at least 28ml per kg of your body weight every day.
– Up this number if you train or sweat heavily. You should then include a further 500ml to one liter to ensure you are adequately hydrated during and following those sessions – even a two percent drop in body weight due to sweating and loss of fluids can impair your performance and health significantly!
To book a session with Michael, click here or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.