Wednesday, May 16, 2012

High Quality H20

I’ve wanted to do a post on this topic for a while and since school is finally winding down (you can practically start calling me master!) I figured there is no better time than now.

Since we were little, we’ve been told about the benefits of staying properly hydrated and as the weather gets warmer, we need to remind ourselves of this truism! Water makes up about 60 percent of our body weight. Our brains are nearly 90% water and every single system in our body requires water for proper function, maintenance and growth. Water can also help flush toxins from our kidneys and liver. It is hard to overstate the importance that water plays in our lives. 

While health experts cite 8 glasses of water every single day as the necessary amount needed to maintain a healthy level of hydration, the truth is that our bodies’ needs are more complex. According to, “your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live.” The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) also depends on gender. They state that the AI for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day while Women need slightly less, about 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day. They further state, that perhaps the best way to judge your hydration, is by the color of your urine. While not the most pleasant way imaginable, you want your urine to be clear a pale yellow color.

There are several ways our bodies lose water. Most obvious; sweat. However, one way that we lose water, which is often overlooked, is from exhaling. Every time we breathe out, we exhale moisture from our bodies. Hence, during periods of intense exercise, we lose water both from an increased rate of exhaling as well as from sweating. This makes our need to replace those liquids more necessary. Also, after sleeping for 8 hours, (hopefully breathing the entire time) our bodies exhale a significant amount of liquid and as such we are typically slightly dehydrated upon waking. Try drinking a glass of water within the first half hour of waking up to replenish your fluids and jump start your day.

Vegan Ultraman Rich Roll rehydrating in Ultraman 2011 

Athletes should pay special attention to their hydration. Since water transports nutrients and oxygen into our cells, it is especially important to be well hydrated during and after exercise. It has even been shown that being well-hydrated will help not only performance but also recovery. Due to higher volumes of perspiration, endurance athletes may also want to replace lost electrolytes. If you choose to do this, add a pinch of salt and a few ounces of lemon juice to your workout drink to make sure you are replacing both the electrolytes as well as potassium and calcium to keep your bodies pH even.

Does adding a slice of lemon or lemon juice to water increase the benefits? Some claim, including vegan professional Ironman athlete, Brendan Brazier, that doing this helps alkalize the water, helping to raise and neutralize our bodies pH level. Some proponents go as far as claiming that this can neutralize acid in your bloodstream, boost your metabolism and help your body absorb nutrients more effectively while also helping to prevent disease and slow the aging process. However, according to Katherine Zeratsky, (RD, LD.,) researchers haven't verified these claims. As such, there is no real need to do this, although it does add some vitamin C to your beverage and can help improve the taste.

Vegan Ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek, double fisting!

Besides water, there are other ways to hydrate. Food, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables can have as much as 90% water per calorie weight. Many people get as much as 20% of their daily liquid needs from foods. Also, other beverages like tea are great ways to hydrate as they also contain powerful antioxidants and vitamins. That said, water has some additional benefits making it more valuable. First, it has zero calories and is relatively inexpensive. It has also been shown to help boost the metabolism, whiten and clean teeth, and even helps keep our skin healthy and young looking.

Carrying around a reusable bottle is a great way to always have fresh, clean water with you, making staying hydrated easy. 

Jurek again. He really does love promoting hydration! He also has a new book coming out soon!

I hope you will all join me and raise a glass... of water
see you out there.



  1. Scott Jurek and I have the same water bottle! Ultramarathon, here I come.
    (Perhaps not the best choice to mention pale, yellow urine right before a picture of lemonade?)

  2. Last night I got a great question from Steve on my google+. Since not everyone has access to it, I am going to repost the question here along with my answer.

    "I always wondered about tea. The caffeine is a diuretic, but it's mostly water. What are your thoughts?"

    This is a great question. All caffine drinks use to be thought of as being diuretic (or causing one to pee more often) thus making you more dehydrated. However some of the most recent research shows this is only the case in large amounts. On average, anything under 500 to 600 milligrams of caffine (or around 6-7 cups of coffee) and you should be fine. One cup of tea (preferably green tea) will help hydrate your body and provide you with an abundance of antioxidants, although I wouldn't suggest having tea immediately before a race, it shouldn't impact your performance. Ultimately, the best thing to do is to listen to your body. If drinking tea has a negative impact on your body, don't drink it before workouts and you should be fine.

    Hope this helps.