Water and Workouts: What You Need to Know

Water is, without a doubt, the most important thing in your diet! Your body can't function without water, and even drinking other liquids (juice, soda, fruit, veggies, etc.) isn't enough to provide your body the liquid it needs to work properly. Water becomes even more important when you work out, as you lose a lot of water when you sweat and burn energy. Here is what you need to know about water and workouts, and how much water you need before, during, and after each training session:

Before Your Workout

If you drink a lot of water before your workout, you'll end up with a full belly and a higher risk of stomach cramps or "stitches" in your side. This is because your body can't absorb nutrients and burn energy at the same time. You need to give your body enough time to digest the water (it's fairly quick) before working out.

Ideally, you should have two or three cups of water about 30 minutes before you start your workout. This will help to replenish any water you have lost during the day, and will put you in a proper state of hydration for your training session. It will also ensure that the water has passed through your stomach by the time you get to jumping and moving around.

During Your Workout

During the workout, you want to keep your water intake fairly limited. For the first half hour, try to take no more than a sip of water every 5 to 10 minutes. If you drank enough water before the working, your body will be in a state of proper hydration, and you won't need more liquid until you start seriously sweating.

Once you get into the swing of your workout and the sweat starts dripping, increase your water intake slightly. You don't want to drink too much water during the workout--no more than 16 ounces during an hour of training. Most of this will be consumed in the second half of the workout, once you start to feel the fatigue of the energy burn and water expenditure.

If you work out for more than 90 minutes, water isn't going to be enough. By the 60-minute mark, your body will have used up a lot of minerals as well as liquids, and you'll need to replace the electrolytes in order to keep going. By the time you reach 90 minutes, your body will be low on both sodium and potassium, as well as water. For a longer workout session, it's a good idea to have an electrolyte supplement (Gatorade, for example) handy.

After Your Workout

Once you finish your training session, you need to hit the water hard. Within half an hour of completing your workout, drink at least 16 ounces of water. That will help to replenish a lot of the fluids you have lost during your workout, and will prevent dehydration.

Note: You should also eat something within 30 minutes of your workout. This will ensure maximum efficiency and glycogen uptake, repairing your muscles and restoring a lot of energy.

The Rest of the Day

Just because you're not working out, that doesn't mean you can let up on your water intake! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the rest of the day--at least 2 to 3 quarts. Your goal is to drink no fewer than 4 quarts of water per day, as that will help to reduce your appetite, improve hydration, and enhance efficient body function. The more water you drink, the better!

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