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Staying properly hydrated may seem as simple as filling up on water, but for your body, it’s a complex affair. Electrolytes like sodium, calcium, potassium, and phosphate play various roles in transporting water through your body and absorbing it. Without the right balance of electrolytes in your blood, you can become dehydrated or even overhydrated. Whether you rely on it for sports performance or you’re worried about cellular hydration, David Reagan, an Atlanta-based personal trainer, shares everything you need to know in this article.
Causes of Dehydration
Dehydration offsets your balance of electrolytes. Usual causes are vomiting, diarrhea, too much caffeine, running a fever, or not drinking enough fluids. Sometimes, you can replace your fluids but not hydrate effectively because you haven’t replaced your electrolytes, which are also lost to sweat. Eating fruit like bananas, as well as following up workouts with sports drinks, are ways you can increase your electrolyte intake and support better hydration.
Causes of Overhydration
It may seem unreal, but, in fact, you can become overhydrated. Elevated sodium levels and insufficient potassium cause your cells to retain more water, resulting in symptoms like puffiness and swollen ankles. Given your diluted potassium levels, you want to rebalance your fluids by eating sources of potassium or switching from water to sports drinks until your electrolytes are balanced. If too much sodium in your diet is the cause, be sure to reduce your intake to avoid the stress it puts on your cells.
How to Stay Hydrated
If you stick to a few rules of thumb, you can stay properly hydrated.
Rule #1. Replace Electrolytes Lost to Sweat
Drink a sports drink during your workout instead of water. When you sweat, you’re losing not just water but also potassium, sodium, and other electrolytes needed to transport and assimilate fluids. Drink water before and after, but not during your workout, since it dilutes the electrolytes you’re getting from the sports drink.
Rule #2. Eat a Balanced Diet
The key to having balanced electrolyte levels is to eat a well-rounded diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits in particular are high in electrolytes like potassium, while leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of calcium and phosphorus.
Rule #3. Drink Enough Water
As much as 2 to 6 percent of your body weight is lost to sweat when you exercise. It’s recommended that adults drink at least 3 liters of water each day regardless of their activity level. If you work out, aim to drink a gallon a day, which is nearly 4 liters of water. Getting enough fluids helps your muscles flush out waste and recover faster from exercise.
Your body works naturally to balance its water levels. But without enough fluids and electrolytes in your system, proper hydration becomes impossible. Stay ahead of dehydration by getting enough water, and avoid overhydration by replenishing electrolytes. Be sure to get enough natural electrolytes in your diet and bring a sports drink to your workout, or when you go out on a hot day.
About David Reagan
David Reagan is a NASM Certified personal trainer from Atlanta, GA, who specializes in weight loss, personalized workout plans, bodybuilding, and nutrition. He caters to high-end clients and executives, helping them achieve their fitness goals by accommodating their busy schedules. The client’s needs come first, and David’s fitness plan will set you up on the path to success.