Despite the popular “drink more water” guidelines the question remains “How important is hydration for a bodybuilder”?
This article breaks down the health, fat loss and performance benefits of water.
HYDRATION AND PERFORMANCE
It’s a well-known fact that dehydration affects physical performance. Unlike some other “well known facts”, this is actually based on numerous peer reviewed studies and research.
You may have heard it before but as little as 2% dehydration can noticeably affect performance. During exercise, studies have also noted that you can lose 5 – 10% of body water via sweat. As you can see, the importance of water or another form of fluid (e.g. a protein shake) is vital both before and during exercise.
If you do fail to hydrate, as little as 2% dehydration can lead to feelings of fatigue, decreased motivation, an increase in rate of perceived exertion (e.g. everything feels hard), reduced physical power and decreased mental clarity. Due to water’s large role in muscle and biological processes, such as nutrient transport, research found being hydrated reduces oxidation stress. Oxidative stress can damage our cells and lead to poor recovery and muscle loss.
As mentioned, water also helps improve mental aspects of performance. While this may not be so important when shifting a 300lb bar off the floor, if you play team sports or the exercise is more skill based, then hydration can play a key role. One study found dehydration after exercise impacted mood, concentration, anxiety, fatigue and headaches.
As you can see, dehydration can decrease performance. Decreased performance means less output at the gym, which of course all boils down to less muscle growth or strength gains. So, while studies haven’t shown a clear cut connection where the dehydrated group actually gained less muscle, (although this hasn’t really been studied), it is fairly obvious that hydration plays an important role in bodybuilding and sports.
Along with decreased gym performance the amount of water you drink can alter your physique via fat gain or fat loss. It is pretty well known that drinking more water helps you lose more weight. It also makes basic sense, water will fill you up, meaning you eat less food and lose more weight.
One drastic effect of water is its role in metabolism. Many fat burners work via an increase in metabolism (note this does not include CLEANBURN, which actually works via other mechanisms such as fat oxidation), however water may be best for this.
For example, one study found by drinking 17oz of water the participants’ metabolism sped up by a whopping 24-30% and stayed elevated for a whole 90 minutes.
Water may also help you look leaner, for example being hydrated helps reduce water retention. Being hydrated may also help with the muscles’ ability to contract and transport all the key nutrients such as proteins, amino acids and carbs. This increase can also make a big difference to your appearance, for example we all know a drastic difference after a few high-carb refeeds.
There is no 1 rule for water intake or hydration, it depends on you as an individual. As a rule of thumb, it’s better to be slightly hydrated than slightly dehydrated. One way to track hydration status is weight: if you weigh your self on a daily basis and you see a big drop then you may be dehydrated.
Another accurate method outside of a lab based setting is urine color. When comparing this to advanced lab or blood test it is actually very accurate. To ensure adequate hydration aim for your urine color to be a pale or off yellow colour or virtually clear.
Other supplements such as electrolytes also play an integrative role in hydration. If you exercise every day, sweat a lot or live in a hot / humid climate I recommend 1 – 2 scoops of HYDRA-CHARGE, 2 – 3 times a day, especially before and during a workout. Another sure fire method to ensure adequate hydration levels is to drink PRE-KAGED around 60 minutes pre workout in about 15 oz of water. This too, will preserve hydration levels for the workout.
Finally, remember the human brain is composed of 95% water, blood is 82% water and the lungs are nearly 90% water.