The average human body is made up of around 50-65% of water — every single cell in our body needs water in order to function properly. Lack of hydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, constipation, premature ageing, and dry skin. Make sure that you stay healthy and hydrated this summer by following these easy hydration tips.
How to tell if your body is hydrated
The easiest way to check if your body is hydrated or not is to simply check the colour of your urine. If it’s pale or close to transparent, it means you’ve been drinking enough water. But, if your urine is dark — like the colour of apple juice or tea, it means that your body needs more water.
Many people struggle to drink a lot of water during the day because they don’t enjoy the taste of it — or lack thereof. If you find that you automatically pour yourself another cup of coffee rather than drink a glass of water, this next section is for you.
Did you know? Drinking more than three cups of coffee a day could put you at risk for dehydration.
Tips to make drinking water taste better
You probably already know that your body needs a water intake of around two litres each day to function at its optimal level. If you’re not a fan of regular drinking water, try flavouring your water to make it taste better — here are a few ideas you could try:
- Add a squeeze of lemon or lime
- Infuse water overnight with mint, cucumber, ginger and lemon slices
- Make ice cubes out of unsweetened fruit juice and add to water
- Freeze naartjie pieces and use them as ice cubes
- Mash up berries in the bottom of your glass and top up with still or sparkling water
- Add large chunks of tropical fruit like melon or pineapple and leave in a large jug of water overnight
Exercising and staying hydrated
Your body is more likely to lose water when you work out, both through breath and sweat. Whether you’re a weekend warrior, the occasional gym-goer, or a triathlete, your body needs to stay properly hydrated when you exercise. Water helps you exercise efficiently, keeps your entire body lubricated, and prevents dehydration.
Water or sports drink?
For general exercise, water is usually the best drink to rehydrate with. However, if you’re exercising for longer than 60 minutes or doing intense workouts and sweating profusely, a sports drink may be a better option. Sports drinks contain electrolytes, which your body loses during exercise. These help to prolong exercise and rehydrate your body.
Tip: It’s important to keep in mind that sports drinks generally contain sugars and calories, so if you’re looking for a healthier option, rather opt for coconut water which is full of natural electrolyates.
Did you know? Being mildly dehydrated — losing just 2% of your body weight in fluid can decrease your athletic performance by up to 25%.
How much water should you drink when you exercise?
This usually depends on a number of factors, such as your age, height, weight, exercise intensity, and length of exercise. But, the below will give you a general indication of how much water you should be drinking.
- Two to three hours before exercising: 500–590ml
- 20 to 30 minutes before exercising: 235ml
- Every ten to 20 minutes during exercise: 200–295ml
- No more than 30 minutes after exercising: 235ml
Top tips for staying hydrated throughout the day
Even though summer is in full swing, it’s just as important to stay hydrated all year long — even during winter. Here are a few tips to help you keep up with your daily water intake:
- Get a BPA-free water bottle for your desk at work. This way, you’ll see it and be more encouraged to drink water throughout the day.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day. This doesn’t only contribute to your daily water intake (especially cucumber, celery, tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, and melon).
- Drink enough water during the day to prevent thirst. As soon as you notice you’re thirsty, your body is already starting to dehydrate.
- Keep an eye on any fluid loss by making it a habit to check the colour of your urine.
- Set hourly reminders on your phone to drink water.