Ensuring that your fluid intake is sufficient and comes from the right sources is an integral component of having a complete and healthy diet. Whilst this may seem like an obvious fact, it is one that is lost on so many fitness enthusiasts who view their hydration as being separate from their diet plan – it’s not!
Of course it’s essential to focus on eating the right foods that will support your body in carrying out its intrinsical functions but focusing on hydrating your body through the right sources is just as important. Most people don’t consume enough fluids or/and get their fluids from beverages that are more detrimental than helpful to their body.
So let’s lay it out in black and white, what should you do and what shouldn’t you do with regards to fluid consumption?
DO – Drink Ample Amounts of Fresh Water Every Day
Gimmicky detox drinks are a dime a dozen these days but the fact of the matter is, nothing is better for your body than water. 8-10 cups a day is generally recommended although there’s no need to be overly dogmatic and it is important to remember that fluids and vegetables (which of course you should also be consuming an ample amount of every day) along with herbal teas and broth-based soups count towards your daily water intake so be sure to factor them in.
DON’T – Consume Commercially Prepared Smoothies
On the face of it, commercially prepared smoothies may seem healthy providing a variety of fruits; helping you towards your five-a-day not to mention giving a good dose of dairy. However, what they also contain is a high amount of calories and an excessive amount of sugar.
This doesn’t mean you have to cut out smoothies altogether if they are something you enjoy however, if you are going to have them, prepare it yourself. By doing so is that you can be sure exactly what’s going into it and use lower calorie, healthy ingredients, something you’re unlikely to find in commercially prepared smoothies which are often loaded with high-fat yoghurt or ice cream.
DO – Drink more whilst exercising
Whenever you sweat profusely, you lose water considerably faster than usual. This lost water needs to be replaced therefore whenever you’re doing intense exercise, it is important to increase your fluid intake.
As a rule of thumb, you should aim to drink one cup of water before exercise and then one additional cup for every 15-20 minutes of exercise that you do. If you happen to be exercising outside in a warm climate, you’ll want to nearly double this as the increased temperature will lead to increased perspiration during exercise.
DON’T – Rely on sports drinks
Most sports drinks are loaded with sugar and excessive calories that you don’t need. The main purpose of sports drinks is to replace electrolytes lost during exercise however, unless you are partaking in an endurance-based event, water will serve that purpose just fine.
If you are partaking in an event of this nature or doing a particularly long gym workout, then it would be appropriate to use a sports drink however, watch the sugar content.
DO – Count Calories of Any Liquids Consumed
Ideally, with the exception of home-made smoothies/shakes, one should avoid almost all beverages that contain calories. This may seem excessive however, the problem with beverages that contain calories is that most people will not consume less food after drinking them, so those calories simply get added onto their daily calorie intake, exceeding their targeted daily intake. This of course leads to unwanted weight gain. Calories consumed through food are significantly more satiating than those consumed through fluids, which is why sticking to water is a smart move.
DON’T – Drink Fruit Juice
What about fruit juices? Aren’t they healthy? This is a common misconception. Many people see fruit juice as a healthy option since it’s made with fruit but the problem with fruit juices is that they also contain excessively high amounts of sugar and as such, will spike blood glucose levels rapidly. This can in turn lead to unwanted weight gain and could even set you up for insulin resistance and diabetes. This is why you’re considerably better off getting your fruit intake from whole fruit and not fruit juices.
DO – Add Lemon/Lime to Your Water
If you find water more boring than refreshing and struggle to consume multiple glasses on a daily basis, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to that glass. Not only will this will add a nice hint of flavor, but both of these fruits are also great for detoxification purposes. Moreover, they won’t add any calories or sugar to the water, making it a perfect, low calorie choice to help you meet your hydration needs.
DON’T – Drink Diet Soda
Whilst diet beverages contain very few or in some cases no calories and are free from sugar, you still do not want to be consuming them on a regular basis. Why? Diet beverages contain a high amount of artificial ingredients including sweeteners and other additives which can over time, lead to side effects such as headaches and bloating and have even been linked with reduced bone density in some studies. It is not necessary to cut them out altogether just limit yourself to the occasional treat if you feel you have to have them.
Following these simple guidelines will help you to keep your fluid intake on track and leave you feeling considerably healthier as a result.