By Mary du Heaume – Dietitian APD, HBF Member Health Coach

Drinking water
Have you ever been gasping for a drink? Have you ever been so thirsty, it was hard to talk?

We have all experienced that need for a refreshing drink of water.

Thirst is our body’s way of letting us know our water levels have dropped and need replenishing. When going about our normal daily activities like going for a walk or a HBF fitness session, thirst is a good gauge of our fluid needs.

Water is essential for life and is the largest component of our bodies, accounting for 60-70% of our total body weight – it is important to be well hydrated.

Your body will thank you

Adequate hydration is necessary for temperature and blood pressure regulation, removing waste, lubricating joints and metabolic processes. Dehydration can lead to difficulty in concentration, fatigue, decreased exercise capacity, headaches, lethargy, weakness, tiredness and confusion.

The moderate intensity level of the HBF fitness sessions (compared to say a marathon) means that you can allow your thirst to indicate when and how much to drink.

Water or sports drinks?

For moderate intensity activities it is best to rehydrate with water. Unless it is intensely active for an extended period of time, sports drinks are not necessary. Many of these drinks contain substantial amounts of sugar (about 7 teaspoons of sugar/600ml); meaning any energy burnt during your work out will immediately be replaced, limiting the ability for your exercise to help manage your weight.

Here are some helpful tips to maintain healthy hydration:

  • Drink enough to prevent thirst – by the time you are thirsty you are already mildly dehydrated.
  • Water is a great choice – if you want some extra flavour, add slices of lemon, apples, mint or basil
  • Food contains water (providing up to 20% of our water intake) – include at least 5 serves of vegetables a day. Along with high water content they also contain potassium which is an important electrolyte.
  • Milk is approximately 85% water – it also provides a good source of protein, low GI carbohydrate and calcium.
  • Check the colour of your urine – the lighter the colour the better your hydration. As a rule of thumb, drink enough fluid to produce pale urine throughout the day.
  • Avoid drinks with high sugar content – this includes soft drinks, sports drinks and fruit juices. It is very easy to consume excessive energy when it slips down our throats so quickly with very little nutrition value.

The content of this article is not tailored for any particular individual’s circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated.