Dehydration may not be a permanent effect on the body during workout. But, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. And while being dehydrated does not mean you have inadequate fluid in your body, it’s often times nearly the case.
By definition, dehydration is a state where body does not have enough fluid. More often than not, a person is considered dehydrated if they lose at least 2% of their body’s fluids during workout of any form.
It is important to understand that people who participate in long hours of workout are at a higher risk of becoming dehydrated than those who don’t. The obvious problem with dehydration is it makes it hard to exercise more. This is because voluntary fluid intake is usually less than fluid lost through sweating.
We are not saying sweating should be reduced. That’s not possible during workout, especially when it is an intense and rigorous exercise. The reason why sportspersons sweat a lot is because its evaporation helps to cool the body after an increase in body temperature during an exercise.
If you really want to make the most out of your workouts, you will need to make sure you stay as hydrated as possible by drinking healthy fluids.
What Causes Dehydration during Workout?
What causes dehydration?
How do I know if I am dehydrated before, during, or after workout?
As we have seen, dehydration is caused by long workouts that lead to loss of body fluids. But before we dive into the list of causes of dehydration, it is important to look at a couple of things that can help you know if you are dehydrated.
How to know if you are dehydrated
- Determine Your Weight before & after Workout
The easiest way to know if you are depleting your body’s fluid is to check your weight before and after workout. If your weight has decreased after workout then you should know that it’s time to increase your fluid intake.
- Check the color of your urine
Most people don’t even bother to check the color of their urine when they visit a bathroom. It is obvious that when you visit the bathroom, your goal is to unload the toxic waste from your system. As you urinate, check the color of your urine. Check the color as often as you can, especially if you exercise regularly.
If your urine’s color is dark, you are simply not drinking enough water. If you see a yellow urine, you are dehydrated. In such cases, the best thing to do is to make sure you drink a lot of water. It is always important to drink water before, during, as well as after workout; because it’s the best way to stay hydrated.
Other signs of dehydration include dizziness, high pulse rate, a dry or sticky mouth, weakness, dry skin that does not bounce back quickly when pinched (reduced skin turgor), decreased or no urine or a concentrated and dark colored urine.
Keep in mind that dehydration is not necessarily caused by not taking enough water. From basic knowledge, you may understand that it is not possible to take in enough fluids because maybe you are busy or you have no access to consumable water at that moment.
As an example, an instance where you may not have access to continuous supply of water is while out hiking, biking or trail-running.
With that said, here are additional causes of dehydration:
The body is usually cooled down through a mechanism known as sweating, where a significant amount of water is released. Vigorous physical activities and hot weather can increase body fluid loss through sweating. Infections like fever can also increase sweating; this leads to dehydration.
People who have diabetes usually experience high blood sugar levels that eventually cause increased urination and fluid loss.
The large intestines absorbs water from the food that a person eats. But diarrhea can prevent this from happening. In the end, the body ends up excreting too much water leading to dehydration. Today, diarrhea remains to be the most common cause of dehydration.
- Frequent urination
This can be due to taking a lot of alcohol, medications, or uncontrolled diabetes.
What are the effects of dehydration?
Now that we have talked about what can cause dehydration, it is also important to mention the effects of dehydration in someone’s body so that you may quickly identify when you are dehydrated and do the necessary to come back to shape. The following are the common effects of dehydration.
- Dizziness and light headache
- Lack of energy and muscle cramping
- Heat exhaustion
- Easy fatigability
- Decreased physical and mental capability, which can in turn reduce the importance of your workout.
If you are dehydrated, you will definitely not perform well when doing your workout. So before starting out you should make sure your body has a good supply of fluids. This is important because you need to perform better during workout
Who is at risk of dehydration?
Anyone can experience dehydration but there are those that might be more exposed to it. They include:
- Those doing their workouts in a high altitude area
- People with chronic illnesses such as diabetes
- Athletes, more so those in events such as marathons and long distance cycling
- People who go cycling or hiking in places with little or no access to high quality water. That’s why it is recommended that such people tag along a hydration bladder with them in their hiking trips.
Why should you drink water anyway?
Drinking water regularly isn’t something many people take seriously. Ask a friend how many liters of water they drink every day and you’ll be shocked by their responses. Even a serious athlete forgets to drink water sometimes; it happens a lot in the real world.
I understand how difficult it is to drink two liters of water per day. After all, water is the only natural fluid that can truly hydrate your body. You already know the importance of drinking water. What’s more, you know why it is important to stay hydrated.
So, when should you drink water? Should you do so before workout, during an intense exercise, or after your exercise hours?
Drinking Water before Workout
You should drink much water before exercising then go on reducing the amount as you go on with the exercise. It is usually advisable to drink at least half a liter before you start to workout. This will ensure your body has enough fluids before you begin to exercise.
Be careful not to drink too much water, though. Doing so could hinder your performance. Usually, the most common effects of taking too much water before working out is some pain in the lower abdomen.
You will be jumping up and down quite a lot. And you don’t want to go through that kind of pain. So, it is important to drink water moderately or about an hour before the workout.
Drinking Water during Workout
It is advisable to drink water after every ten to twenty minutes of exercising. This will help you not to dry up, especially because when you exercise, you continue loosing water through sweating.
As we saw on the effects of dehydration, you will be exposed to a lot of dry mouth. So to avoid that you might need a constant supply of water to your body.
I remember sometimes back while doing some minor workouts before a basketball match. I had taken long before playing and when we were halfway the match, I was extremely dried up. Since I was so psyched up for the game, it was hard to notice until when we had a timeout and went to spit saliva.
But funny enough, nothing could come out. So to solve this rather strange effect of not drinking water during the game, I had to take some quick sips of water to moist my mouth.
Drinking Water after Workout
This is when you feel like you should drink all the water in the world. After all, you are fatigued and thirsty. And you always have the feeling that it is better to drink water immediately. Yes, you want to stay as hydrated as possible.
But is drinking water immediately after workout recommended? Well, not exactly. Instead, drink water no more than after thirty minutes of physical exercise.
The amount of water you should drink before, during and after working out depends a number of things. They include
- Your age
- Your gender
- Your height
- Your weight
- Your exercise intensity
Effects of prolonged workout without taking enough water
If you decide to prolong your workouts but you take in less water, then you should expect some effects to come with it. To say it in the simplest terms you can understand, it is so risky to continue with your exercises when your body is dehydrated.
Try to imagine going on a long distance road trip with a very little amount of fuel in your travel van. One thing you should be sure of is at some point, all the fun will be cut and you will be forced to either call for backup or use the remaining energy you have to push the van to the nearest gas station.
Water is one of the forms of fuels the body needs to function well. Failure to drink enough water can therefore lead to the following:
- Straining your internal organs
If you lack constant supply of water to your body, it means your organs too do not get enough water supply hence straining their performance especially the kidneys. Remember the functions of your kidneys? To clean the mess. From the urea to excess salts in your body, but to do that they need water. You definitely don’t want a straining kidney just because of failing to take water.
- Easy Fatigue
If you lack sufficient supply of water in your body your body organs will not function correctly. This will lead to your body tissues getting fatigued easily hence you will end up performing less.
- Dizziness and headache
When you lack water in your body your organs will not function as expected and one obvious effect that you will experience immediately will be severe headache that comes and go. As time goes by, you will start feeling dizzy and staggering. You definitely don’t want to be in that condition when doing your workouts.
What should you do to stay hydrated?
One thing you should always do at all times is taking plenty of water. This should not only be when you are doing workouts but rather at all times. (Remember you are always advised to take at least seven glasses of water every day). Taking plenty of water is crucial for your body’s functioning.
Since I am encouraging you to drink a lot, you should get me clear too that I am not saying you drink anything. There are some beverages that will end up causing more harm than good to your body. You should avoid consuming things like coffee, tea and other beverages that contain caffeine unless you will accompany that with a lot of water.
Alcohol is something you should also avoid since it can really dehydrate your body in a matter of seconds. So make sure you drink plenty of water, not only during workouts but throughout the day.
Another thing that will help you to stay hydrated is by wearing cool clothes. As you are going for a workout, you want to be in a costume that you will be comfortable in and one that will also bring in more good to your body than harm.
A lighter costume is advisable since it gives your body a better space for breathing even as you are doing your exercises. It is more like a house with good ventilation. It does not allow so much air and dust to come in but gives enough space for their circulation.
Install an AC or choose a gym that has one. This will really help if you are living in areas with high temperatures. So you will need a way of controlling it. But if you are living in a place that everything is balanced and favorable, your body will be healthy and in shape.