Water For Bodybuilding – It’s Crucial!
Bodybuilders and athletes all know the importance of a diet rich in protein. It has almost become one of the laws of bodybuilding to pay particular attention to protein and count its intake. But what would you say if I told you that there is a component of the diet that is more important than protein? No it’s not carbs, creatine, or glutamine. It’s just good old fashioned water. Water is so important that without it, you will die in days, as opposed to the weeks you can survive without food.
Functions of Water
Water typically makes up anywhere between 50 to 70% of a person’s bodyweight. It is responsible for carrying vital nutrients to your cells and wastes out of your body, regulating body temperature, carries nerve impulses, and lubricates your joints, among many other functions. This may not mean much when taken out of context, but let’s take a closer look at how all this translates to bodybuilding and athletic success.
Water is Needed for Transporting Nutrients & Waste
Many important nutrients need to be dissolved before the body can make use of them. Water is a solvent for certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and glucose. What this means, is that protein, carbohydrates, and many micronutrients all require water so that they can be transported to their destination organs and tissues. The same is true for the elimination of metabolic waste produced by the body on a daily basis. For example, the production of urea and ammonia from consuming protein is dissolved in water before it is excreted in the urine. Without this process, such toxins will accumulate in the body and cause disease.
Water is Needed for Keeping You Cool
During exercise, the human body is capable of producing tremendous amounts of energy. Only 40% actually goes to mechanical movement, but the other 60% produces heat. Water is responsible for dissipating this heat through sweat. Without this mechanism, the body would be very prone to overheating, which can cause damage to our organs and body tissues, and may ultimately be fatal.
Water is Needed for Joint Lubrication
Water is a major component of synovial fluid, which is the lubricating fluid found between joints, such as the knees and elbows. Water is also needed for the cerebrospinal fluid, which is the shock absorbing fluid between the vertebrae of the spine and around the brain. Without this fluid, these vital body structures are far more likely to sustain damage when exercising, especially with activities that have a degree of contact and impact.
Water is Needed for Physical Performance
Minerals dissolved in water are responsible for nerve impulses that control the contraction of muscle fibres and other bodily processes. There have been various scientific studies that have investigated the effect of dehydration on physical performance. All physical performance parameters such as strength, power, and endurance are all negatively affected by decreases in available water. Endurance is most severely affected, with reductions of 10% observed. Therefore, to ensure that you perform at your best, whether you are lifting weights or running a marathon, it is critical that you remain properly hydrated so you can push harder and lift more.
Water is Needed for Mental Performance
Many people are aware of the impact the mind has on physical performance. Just like with physical performance, one of the key factors that affect mental performance is hydration. Studies have shown that dehydration can increase the perception of fatigue, decrease the speed and accuracy of performing tasks, decrease attention, decreases mathematical skills, and diminishes judgement. Many of these traits are especially important for athletes involved in fast paced sports, but also bodybuilders who rely on focus to get through the last few reps of a tough set.
Water Can Help Burn Fat
The kidneys require a large amount of water to filter out all the body’s waist products. In the case of inadequate water, the kidney recruits the liver to help in the detoxification process. However, in doing this, the liver is distracted from one of its other roles, which is to metabolise stored fat. Thus, to maintain the livers optimal fat burning potential, it is important to maintain good hydration status.
Drinking plenty of water during meal times can also help to fill your stomach volume, and therefore result in smaller amounts of food being eaten. Although this effect is short lived because water passes through the stomach quickly, it can help with portion control, which of course, is the secret to fat loss.
How Much Water?
Typically, people need three to four litres of water per day. However, this does not mean you need to actively drink this much water by itself. What many people forget is that water also makes up a significant portion of our food too, and as long as the water intake from all sources total to around three to four litres, the body should have no problems in maintaining all the above processes.
It is important to remember that during periods of extended intense exercise, where lots of fluids are lost, especially in hot and humid climates, the demand for water skyrockets. In such cases, it may even be beneficial to use an electrolyte and sport drink instead of plain water, as these may be more hydrating.
From the above, you can see why it is important to maintain hydration and replace any fluids that are lost. Ensure that you are not only counting your protein and calories, but you also pay particular attention to your water intake.
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