Maintaining our hydration while exercising and training is a no brainer, but when we check online for useful tips, most sources only talk about drinking more water or sports drinks rather than providing us with useful tips and techniques for maintaining hydration levels.
Whether you are taking part in our Brazilian jiu jitsu classes or are on your own fitness and weight loss journey, we thought it would be helpful to provide all of you with quality must-have tips for staying hydrated while working out.
The Benefits of Staying Hydrated
Maintaining healthy hydration levels is essential for the basic functions of the human body. When we become dehydrated, both our energy levels and our mental capacity and performance begin to decrease. This causes us to lose strength while making it hard to focus, which directly impacts our technique, our ability to learn new things, and how well we can communicate and work with others during training sessions.
The water in our bodies also acts as our coolant system, stopping us from overheating during intense activities and preventing our muscles from fatiguing as quickly. Dehydration combined with intense exercise can cause headaches, muscle cramps, and even muscular injuries in some cases if nothing is done about it.
If your goal is weight loss, then staying hydrated during your workouts and throughout the day is absolutely necessary since water is a key ingredient in metabolizing and burning fats. Water is also essential for processing and getting rid of waste products such as lactic acid which build up during exercise.
Key Hydration Tips
1 – Eat the Right Foods
The right diet can provide your body with additional sources of liquids and electrolytes while also helping to retain liquids for longer, staving off dehydration. Eating lots of tomato, watermelon, salads, grapes, and most non-starchy vegetables will help your body stay hydrated while exercising. Dates, bananas, avocados, olives, and many other foods that are high in electrolytes are also a key part of staying hydrated and having healthy, functional muscles when exercising.
Greasy foods that are high in salt and sugar should be kept to a minimum since these make it difficult for your body to efficiently use its available water during exercise.
Obviously, you can’t just stop for a meal break in the middle of a jiu jitsu class or weight loss session, so planning your meals beforehand so that you are consuming the right foods before exercising is essential.
Another great tip is to eat oats with chia seeds soaked and cooked in milk or water up to an hour before exercising as this can have a slow-release effect, maintaining your hydration levels for much longer.
2 – Alcohol and Cigarette Consumption
It’s a bit of a no brainer that smoking is going to dehydrate you, and even if you are not smoking directly before your exercise routine or jiu jitsu session, the long term effects of smoking can reduce how effectively the body retains its liquids and electrolytes.
The same goes with alcohol, and this does also include beer even though it has a lower percentage. When metabolizing alcohol, the body needs to use additional water supplies to break the alcohol down, and any drink with over 1% alcohol requires more water than is provided in the beverage itself in order to be processed.
As well as creating a water deficit in the body, alcohol is also a diuretic, meaning that it makes your body urinate more often than usual. Whether it’s a sip of whiskey or a couple beers the night before, alcohol, along with cigarettes, will reduce your body’s ability to stay hydrated.
3 – Choosing the Right Time of Day
Choosing the right time of day to exercise is possibly the most important way to stay hydrated during training and exercise due to sun exposure and the general climate. Our bodies burn through our water reserves in order to regulate temperature, and we lose plenty of electrolytes and fluid through our sweat as well so why would we want to make things even harder by working out at the hottest time of the day?
By working out in the mornings or afternoons and avoiding midday exercise, our body’s resources can be funneled to our muscles and nervous system in order to get our work done more effectively and with a higher degree of mental focus. In martial arts, and especially in Brazilian jiu jitsu where technique is especially important, having that extra bit of focus and mental clarity is essential for training and perfecting good technique, which, over time, becomes muscle memory and automatic habits which need to be finely tuned.
4 – Hydrate from the outside
Although this tip is not as important as monitoring your diet, the moisture and oil quality of your skin can have an effect on how well your body retains liquids. The natural oils produced by our skin form a barrier which can help to retain moisture and prevent liquids from escaping via our skin cells, which is important as our body temperatures rise with a workout. Although good hygiene should always be a priority, we can protect the natural oils in our skin by avoiding overly hot showers and using moisturizer for dry skin.
5 – Get Enough Sleep the Night Before
Sleep and hydration work like a two-way street; good hydration is necessary for quality sleep, and quality sleep is needed to remain hydrated during the day.
When we get an insufficient amount of sleep (6 or less hours), our body’s ability to release an important hormone for the regulation of fluids in the body (called vasopressin) is interrupted. This in turn can affect how well our cells retain liquid throughout the body, making us dehydrate much faster than normal. A minimum of 6 hours sleep (8 hours is often optimal) gives the body the best opportunity to produce enough vasopressin so that your hydration levels can be regulated throughout the day.
Our lifestyle and diet has just as much of an impact on our hydration levels as the amount of water that we drink before and during exercise and training. Developing a set routine based on proper nutrition, workout schedules, and healthy sleep patterns while avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, and anything else that is going to dehydrate us further will keep our bodies running smoothly while exercising so that we can get the most out of our training sessions.