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Are you drinking yourself into dehydration? Sounds like an oxymoron, but many people don't get all the hydration they could from their liquid intake. All that coffee, tea, cola and alcohol may speed fluid out of your body, leaving you less hydrated than other beverages would.
Maybe you were good all summer, guzzling that gallon or more of pure water that you know you needed each day. But you need lots of water in cold weather, too. Water truly is the most important nutrient, so don't shortchange yourself or your training by not drinking enough. The Nutrition Information Center from New York Hospital - Cornell Medical Center along with the International Bottled Water Association completed a revealing survey of American's drinking habits. The result of the poll, conducted by Yankelovich Partners: Americans average 7.9 servings of hydrating beverages daily, including water, juice, milk and noncaffeinated soda. This is offset by 4.9 servings of dehydrating beverages - coffee, caffeinated soda, tea, beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages. The net result, says the nutrition center, is a mere three servings of hydrating beverages a day.
Other experts challenge the math that each serving of a "dehydrating" beverage cancels out a full serving of a "hydrating" beverage, reports the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. "If you drink a cup of coffee or a cola, it will definitely have a diuretic, or dehydrating, effect," says Robert Murray, PhD, an exercise physiologist with Gatorade. You'll lose at least 50% of that liquid within a couple of hours, he states in the newsletter. "But even if you drink plain water, two hours later you'll have lost 35% of it."
That being the case, the wise athlete who doesn't want to spend a lot of time making pit stops would drink more hydrating fluids than dehydrating ones. A little coffee or cola won't hurt, just make sure you get plenty of liquid overall.
Don't Sweat It?
Dehydration can deplete both your training and your muscles. Water combines with glycogen to fill out muscles, so when you're low on water, you'll look flat. You can't sweat like you should, either. Your body won't be able to cool itself properly during training, and you could poop out before your session's done.
Don't sweat it, you might be telling yourself; only ultra-marathoners need to worry about rehydration. Wrong! Significant dehydration - to the degrees of 5% of you bodyweight - is common in sports like football, tennis and distance running, say George Brooks and co-authors in Exercise Physiology. Five percent of you bodyweight may sound like a lot, but for a 200-pounder, that's 10 pounds of water weight - not an unrealistic amount to sweat off in a long, hard session of weight training plus fat-burning aerobics.
So keep that water bottle handy, and make it a big one!