Chatting to a friend this morning after our weekly run, and they were talking about recently having really bad cravings for junk food, feeling lethargic and short of energy, and not getting results in the Gym.
We went through bits about the mental side of nutrition – dealing with late night cravings, eating to fill a void or eating when you’re bored – but there was more going on, something so simple.
After a while I asked about how much fluid they were getting, the answer made everything click into place – they hardly drank any water throughout the day.
I can’t stress enough how important hydration is, especially when you’re doing exercise and especially in this heat!
Realistically, we should be aiming for 1.5-2 litres of water each day. This will allow your organs to work correctly and for us to be able to perform basic functions. It goes without saying, if you have a manual job or are exercising, you need more.
Plain water is quite boring, so jazz it up with citrus fruit, cucumber or mint leaves; create your own (non-alcoholic!) cocktail by brewing a fruit tea, let it cool completely and then add ice; or drink herbal teas to quench your thirst – just make sure you drink!
If you struggle to drink enough, think about the foods you’re eating. Cucumber, watermelon or oranges all have plenty of fluid in, but foods you’d be surprised to have over 90% water content are cauliflower, broccoli and carrots.
If you haven’t been drinking enough, don’t just start gulping down what you can get your hands on, build up slowly. Set an alarm every hour and have a small glass when it goes off, you’ll find that you’ll pee more but this will settle down once your body gets used to the extra fluid and take into consideration any exercise you’re doing and how hot it is.
If you have a heavy night out, the horrible headache the next day is down to dehydration, so make sure you re-hydrate over the following days.
Setting yourself targets to increase your water intake is a great place to start – 8 glasses or just under 2 litres – but adopting simple tactics can help you along the way. I have a pint glass at work and a bottle of squash, so I don’t really have an excuse but you have to use whatever you have to hand.
Like I said before, I can’t stress enough how important hydration is. If you need any pointers or help, give me a shout.