3 Myths, Facts, and To-Dos Everyone Should Know About Hydration
As the summer heats up, we think it’s important that everyone stay adequately hydrated. That being said, we notice there’s a lot of misleading information going around about hydration these days. In this article, we’ll break down the most popular myths about hydration, what the facts are, and what to do.
Myth 1: You need to drink “X” amount of water each day
“Eight, 8 oz glasses of water”, “drink your body weight in water”, “Drink half your body weight in water”, what’s next? Where did all the generic requirements come from in the first place?
Fact: Water requirements vary
Depending on the person, water requirement can vary by vast amounts. The factors that influence a person’s water requirements include:
- how much you sweat
- how active you are
- the types of food you consume
- if your pregnant/nursing
just to name a few.
What to Do: Drink when you’re thirsty
We were always told as kids that, “If you wait until you’re thirsty to drink, you’re already dehydrated.” But how true is that statement? That’s like saying, “If you wait until you’re hungry, it’s too late.” We’re pretty sure our bodies have evolved over time to give us ample notice if something isn’t quite right physically.
Myth 2: Drinking cold water lowers body temperature and prevents heat related illness
This myth has actually come under much scrutiny in recent years, as football coaches across America have advocated for their athletes to “stay hydrated” while practicing in the deadly heat of August. This is in an attempt to keep the body temperature regulated, which is impossible to do via water consumption. During this misguided attempt, players continue to fall ill to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. This is because their bodies are simply way too hot.
Fact: Ingesting liquids, even cold ones, does not lower body temperature
Ingesting too much water, especially during physical exercise, can actually be more harmful than good. As we exercise, our bodies lose a combination of water AND electrolytes that we must replace.
What to do: If it’s really hot out, don’t play outside
Simply, if it’s too hot out, don’t play outside for too long. If you absolutely must, wear the lightest clothing possible and use cool packs, ice, and fans to keep the body temperature down. In addition, drink water in conjunction with electrolyte tables, as your standard electrolyte drinks are typically inadequate.
Myth 3: Caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soda) dehydrate us
This myth is one of the largest nutrition related myth in the fitness industry. In large part, it is believed that caffeinated beverages dehydrate us because they are labeled as diuretics. This simply means it is believed that the beverages encourages us to urinate.
Fact: You would need to drink a lot of caffeinated beverages consecutively
In order to be in danger of dehydration with caffeinated beverages, one would have to ingest one of the following:
- 4 cups of coffee
- 10 cups of green tea
- 20 cups of soda
in order to consume enough caffeine to promote diuresis, thereby causing dehydration. All of this assuming we have not eaten any salt containing food during this time.
What to do: Balance caffeinated beverages with non-caffeinated beverages
To prevent dehydration, try to have the majority of your liquids derived from plain water throughout the day. Will the two cups of coffee throughout the day kill you? No. But the Big Gulp at the convenience store may put a damper on your day (no pun intended).
*BONUS* Myth 4: The clearer the better
Because hydration has been so widely popularized, many people have looked to achieve clear urine as a health marker.
Fact: Light shade of yellow is best
When going to the bathroom, healthy urine will look like a light shade of yellow.
What to do: Drink or don’t drink
Again, pay attention to your body. If you’re thirsty, drink. If you’re not, don’t. Then pay attention to the color of your urine. If it’s dark, you’re probably dehydrated. If it’s clear, you may want to lay off the liquids for a little while.