Sometimes so much emphasis is placed on all sorts of details of a diet plan that the basis is completely forgotten. Today we are going to talk about water and the importance of good hydration. The body consists of around 60% water. That naturally makes it enormously important to get enough water to keep you well hydrated. It is therefore advised from the nutrition center to drink 1,5 to 2 liters of water daily. But is this really enough and what happens if you don't do this? We will explain that today!
Hydration and your brain
You know it, you are at work and you get a headache in the middle of the afternoon. You blame the screen that you have been staring at all day or that awkward assignment that you just can't get completed. But did you know that the cause might be much simpler? It can simply be because you do not drink enough water! Something that can quickly become a problem, especially on the warmer days.
Research  showed that with 1% dehydration (that is, 1% of body weight was lost to moisture, for example by exercising or using moisturisers), the risk of headache increased considerably. Not only that, the test subjects also experienced a poor state of mind, less concentration and had more difficulty performing tasks. So do you have a bad day at work? Then check carefully whether you have drunk enough during the day!
Although the above may still sound pretty innocent, there is more than that. Other studies [2,3] showed that even after dehydration, memory may be even worse than before. The subjects who were dehydrated also experienced a greater degree of fatigue. These are matters that must be taken very seriously, because although it is not known exactly whether long-term damage will occur, this opportunity is present.
So make sure you drink enough especially in warm weather. Do this in particular with sports and / or moisture-wicking supplements and medicines. If you notice any of the above symptoms, always check whether you have drunk enough. Carrying a water bottle with you is therefore not a superfluous luxury!
Hydration and performance
We discussed the influence of a fluid deficiency on your brain above, but the rest of your body is not left untouched either! There have been several studies on dehydration and physical performance, with quite varied results. However, the general message seems clear: moisture is important for optimum performance!
A 2003 study  already showed that sports performance for a longer duration (more than a few minutes) was clearly adversely affected when the subjects lost fluid. However, the influence on muscle strength was still unclear at that time. However, let it be clear that if you are going to run or cycle a long lap, it is crucial to have water with you!
In the years that followed, it also became more clear in the area of strength training. For example, in 2007 there was a study  that showed that strength was initially not affected by dehydration. However, only the first set was discussed. With sets 2 to 5, performance was clearly lower compared to the group that had drunk enough. A study from 2015  adds a little extra to this with a more extensive study. It was found here that even with the first set of strength training the maximum strength was already about 5% less. So this indicates that no matter how you look at it, dehydration will adversely affect your performance in the gym.
The only exception to this seemed to be movements where body weight is important. For example, dehydration and therefore a lower body weight seemed to turn out positively with a vertical jump. However, this should be handled with some caution. Dehydrated and going to jump in the sun might go well, but there comes a point that dehydration wins and you can experience complaints.
Hydration and weight loss
Another interesting aspect of hydration is that it can affect how much weight you lose. For example, a 2003 study  looked at the thermogenic effect of water and found an increase in metabolism of no less than 30% (!). Almost half of this effect was caused by the fact that the water had to be heated to body temperature. The net result was that at the end of the day just under 100 extra calories were consumed when 2 liters were consumed daily.
Now you have to take the above with a pinch of salt. This would in fact suspect that drinking water would be one of the best fat burners on the market. Rather, we can say that drinking water is a normal part of metabolism. Just a shortage of this can cause your daily consumption to fall. So do not start drinking like gallons of water a day with the hope that it will increase your metabolism. Instead, make sure that you drink enough water for the optimal functioning of your body. It is also not necessary to just drink ice water now, because as we showed in an earlier blog, its effect is negligible.
The influence on hunger
Aside from the influence of water on metabolism, there is another benefit to drinking enough water. No matter how simple it sounds: water takes place in your stomach and can therefore cause you to eat less! Studies [8,9] have shown that drinking 500ml of water before a meal caused the subjects to lose an additional 2 kg in a 12-week period compared to the group that did not. This group became saturated faster and as a result ate fewer calories. Please note that soda (although you should not drink it anyway) did not have the same effect. When people took sugar-containing drinks for a meal, they actually started to eat more instead of less.
What counts as water?
You often hear that you cannot count coffee and tea on your daily fluid consumption. The reason for this would be the caffeine that has a moisture-wicking effect. Although the theory of this sounds very plausible, it is nevertheless a fable. This is because the amount of moisture-wicking components is often limited in relation to the amount of moisture, so that your net just gets more moisture than you consume by sweating or peeing .
So you do not only have to limit yourself to water, coffee, tea or light soft drinks are also great for meeting your daily fluid needs. During training you can of course easily flavor your water, for example amino acids of carbohydrates to add.
There is also enough food that is rich in water. Fruit and vegetables in particular are doing well in this area, such as (water) melon, tomatoes, cucumber, strawberries and even certain types of dairy. So feel free to grab some melon as a source of your carbohydrates in the summer, then you will immediately ensure that your moisture balance is maintained properly!
The most important question: how much water should I drink?
It is a question to which countless people have tried to give an answer and for which complete formulas exist, but the practice is somewhat easier for most. People are equipped with a handy mechanism called 'thirst'. This is just as regulated as your breathing, for example, and your body automatically indicates when it is necessary to get more fluid. Now you could say that when you get thirsty it is already too late, but in practice this is not too bad and when you drink more than normal in warm weather or physical activity you should be safe.
Where it often goes wrong is not listening to the body. The signal to drink is indeed present, but because you are deeply woven into your computer or focused on something else you are doing, you ignore this signal. This is similar to often having to yawn and be tired, but still continuing with what you are doing instead of diving into your bed. The trick here is to listen to your body. If you notice that you are thirsty, get up, fill your water bottle and make sure you keep drinking regularly until you are not thirsty. As soon as you start doing this, your rhythm will come naturally and dehydration should no longer be a problem for you.
What if this fails?
If you seem to have a lot of trouble with this, pay attention to the color of your urine. If you drink enough, your urine should be almost completely colorless. If your urine is dark yellow and it looks like you drank a lot of alcohol the night before, that's a clear signal that you don't drink enough!
Exceptional situations are of course important to be aware of, such as when it is above 30 degrees or when you exercise intensively. The combination of these 2 requires extra attention. Always ensure that you have enough water with you and keep drinking, even if you do not immediately need it. In these situations, it can easily happen that you become dehydrated due to fluid loss, with consequences such as fatigue, lack of concentration, headache or cramps.
In short, it means that hydration should not be made much harder than it is. The only condition here is that you just stick with your head and listen to the signals that your body gives you. Drink when you are thirsty, stop drinking when your thirst is over and drink a little extra on those hot days or during intense training. It can be that easy, so get up and time to fill that bottle!
Written by Mathias Jansen