Water … it’s not just coffee’s healthy ingredient

glass of waterI know, right? I bet you’re just as shocked as I am. I mean, who likes water? At best, it’s colorless, tasteless and boring. At worst? Well, it can have you fearing for your life. I hate drinking water.

So when a friend was looking for participants to do a hydration optimization challenge, I figured I’d be a good candidate. Given the amount that I run, I consume a shockingly small amount of water. For the purposes of this exercise, your optimal water intake is calculated as follows:

1/2 your body weight = oz. of water per day

That sounds like a really big number. And then. And then. Any diuretic beverage consumed (coffee, caffeinated beverages, traditional soda, sweetened drinks, processed fruit juice such as OJ) needs to be multiplied by 1.5 and offset by that amount of water. Yep, that’s right. You drink 8 oz. of coffee, that’s 12 oz. more water to add to your water intake for the day. So what did I do? I stopped drinking coffee. Or seriously reduced it. That is exactly how much I don’t want to be drinking any more water than I have to. But then there’s this tidbit*:

If the body’s water content drops by as little as 2%, it will cause fatigue. So if you are feeling tired (beyond this challenge), try increasing your water consumption and see how you feel. Given that we know dehydration causes fatigue and many people reach for caffeine to combat their fatigue (which further dehydrates the body), you can see how this creates a vicious cycle.

In fairness, most of the coffee that I consume is decaffeinated. I can’t seem to handle drugs of any sort terribly well. But some of it is fully loaded, and I haven’t really missed it.

And then there’s the metabolism component:

Hydration helps boost your metabolism and even mild dehydration reduces your metabolism by 3%.  We’ve talked about how people’s ability to detect their own thirst is impacted by dehydration – this gets weak as you get dehydrated.  Often times people are mistaking hunger pangs for hunger when the body is actually trying to tell you it’s thirsty!  In one study at the UW, all participants alleviated midnight hunger pangs by drinking one glass of water.  So are you hungry or are you thirsty?  It’s worth reaching for a glass of water first if you aren’t sure.

Who doesn’t want their metabolism boosted? Especially as we get older? And for us runners:

If your cartilage is well-hydrated, the rate of friction damage is minimal but if the cartilage is dehydrated, there can be much more damage from friction. The cartilage of bones (in a joint) contain a lot of water. In many cases joint pain is a localized sign of dehydration. If I remember correctly, it can take quite a while for joints to become rehydrated.

*Quoted tips courtesy of challenge leader and nutritionist extraordinaire Michelle Nevelle

I’m almost three weeks into the challenge and the biggest surprise is that it hasn’t been that difficult to drink the water. Perhaps this has been helped by the heat wave that has conveniently coincided with the timing of the challenge. It’s not that hard to gulp down 24 ounces when you’ve just sweat that much into your sneakers. But I do feel pretty good. I finally feel like my training is on the upswing, after backing off for a couple weeks after Rock ‘N’ Roll. Is it the water? Is it the timing? Who knows, but I’ll take it, and maybe I’ll even keep drinking the stuff.

One thought on “Water … it’s not just coffee’s healthy ingredient

  1. No joke – just 5 minutes ago I was telling John how hard it is for me to drink water. And then I read your post. I think you’re my sister from another mister.

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