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Just how important is hydration when it comes to your overall health and wellbeing? Over the coming weeks, while we will of course focus much of the time on exercise and nutrition, we will also dive into some important foundational topics. While not the sexiest, The Basic Lifestyle Guidelines as we call them at OPEX are arguably more important than what exercises you choose, or how many workouts you cram into a week.
As the old saying goes, a house is only as good as its foundation, and The Basic Lifestyle Guidelines are as foundational as it gets. If you aren't creating great habits around these areas, we most likely don't really need to be talking about sets, reps, or how much you can lift.
First up in our Basic Lifestyle Guidelines (BLG's) is hydration. Let's have a quick look at why hydration is important, and conversely what negative impacts dehydration may bring with it.
Studies have shown that even mild de-hydration (1-3%) can significantly impair mood, concentration, and brain performance. We also have evidence to suggest being de-hydrated leads to poorer decision making, especially around food. It doesn't take a genius to see how that could be problematic.
Proper hydration also plays a role in feelings of satiation. Often at times, we may mistake feelings of de-hydration for feelings of hunger. This seems to be especially true for those who suffer from that 2-3 pm sugar craving post-lunch.
It is also worth noting that the human body requires plenty of water to digest food and absorb nutrients properly. Good digestion and consistent bowel movements remain a key marker for general health and getting the most out of our food.
Now, while the aforementioned points are important, they are by no means an exhaustive list. The discussion of the benefits water plays in virtually every aspect of human metabolism and cellular processes could go on ad nauseam, but I don't have the time nor the will, as I'm sure you as the reader doesn't either. Instead, let's walk through a typical sequence that happens for thousands, day in and day out.
The knock-on effect here is quite real. Imagine one wakes up a bit dehydrated. Perhaps they simply don't drink enough, perhaps they exercised the day before and didn't manage to fully re-hydrate. They shower, get ready for work, eat breakfast and down a coffee. Before they know it, has not been mindful of their drinking while at work, it's 2 pm and little or no hydration has occurred.
The sugar craving, and even more so the energy dip, hits full power. The struggle is real. Despite a trip to the break room for some digestives and another coffee or tea, any energy spike felt is short-lived because the underlying issue wasn't addressed. Work finishes and your energy levels are firmly in the toilet. The idea of training or being active in any way is about the most unappealing thing imaginable.
Dehydrated and tired from a long day, instead of making the effort to prepare a fresh, made at home meal that is well rounded and nutritious, the takeaway menu looks ever more appealing. Or perhaps that pizza in the freezer. Anything that requires a minimal amount of effort. Just like that, you haven't exercised, you're tired and feeling sorry for yourself, and eating pizza instead of a meal that will get you closer to your health and fitness goals...all because you didn't sip water through the day.
Will drinking water magically fix all your issues? No. However, you can see here how the simple act of ensuring great hydration allows the choices you make to be easier and more consistent. What we also see, and as we will investigate more in another post, is how these habits are all intertwined. The simple act of staying hydrated can and will help you eat cleaner, and maybe even enjoy more consistency in your training.
Lastly, what kind of a blog post would this be without a few helpful tips? Do these things to help you stay optimally hydrated:
So, there you have it. By prioritising hydration, we can set ourselves up for some easy wins. More energy, better food choices, and more consistent training await through the conscious choice of drinking more.
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