by Matt Weik
When it comes to getting the body composition results you are aiming for, staying hydrated is something that many people do not consider important — this is a mistake.
Whether you are relying on plain water or even bottled water, you may be doing your body an injustice. Dehydration is a major problem that can affect your body in ways that weightlifters and fitness enthusiasts have never considered possible.
In this article, we investigate the effects of dehydration and why staying hydrated is so important when looking to build and maintain lean muscle mass.
Staying Hydrated to Build Lean Muscle Mass
It’s no secret that drinking water can help you lose weight. Drinking more water helps your body flush out toxins, and it makes you feel fuller, so you don’t eat as much throughout the day and during meals. But did you know that staying hydrated can also help you maintain and gain muscle mass?
When you work out, your muscle fibers get torn down. This is how they eventually gain size, but it also means they need to repair themselves in order to do so. Water helps them do this faster, so you’re ready to get back in the gym sooner than if you weren’t staying hydrated.
Another reason you should focus on staying hydrated while trying to gain muscle mass is that your body needs water to process protein. If your muscles don’t get enough protein, they won’t be able to grow in size and strength. But if your body doesn’t have enough water to process the protein you eat, then it ends up basically going to waste rather than being used to build and maintain lean muscle tissue.
So, when you head to the gym for your next workout, make sure you remember to drink enough water!
What Happens to Your Body When You Are Dehydrated?
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of headaches. Also, it reduces your body’s production of nitric oxide, which is a chemical in your body that helps to relax blood vessels and produce muscle pumps. When your blood vessels don’t fully relax, they constrict and cause a lack of blood flow to the brain, causing a headache, and to the muscles, which prevents a pump.
Too little water intake can also cause fatigue. If you’re feeling tired, try drinking some water before you reach for that second cup of coffee or caffeinated soda. You might find that you feel more energized and alert just by giving your body the water it needs.
Dehydration can also make it difficult for your body to control its temperature, which can lead to a fever or heatstroke. If you’re sweating from exercise or hot weather and aren’t drinking enough water, then you could be putting yourself at risk for heatstroke.
The more severe signs of dehydration include dizziness and confusion, which may be accompanied by fainting spells. If you notice any of these symptoms occurring with regularity when you’ve been out in the sun or exercising, seek medical attention immediately.
Ways Drinking Water Can Affect Your Overall Training
You may know that you’re supposed to drink water while working out, but do you know why? It’s not as simple as “staying hydrated.” While hydration is important, it’s also crucial to consume enough water on a daily basis to reap the fitness-related benefits.
Here are a few ways staying hydrated by drinking adequate water affects your overall fitness results.
1. Weight Loss
The body has trouble distinguishing between hunger and thirst signals — meaning many times, we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty. If you find yourself wanting a snack in mid-morning or mid-afternoon, try drinking a glass of water instead of reaching for something to eat. You could be mistaking your thirst signal for a hunger signal.
2. Renal Health
The kidneys filter blood to remove waste products and excess water from the body. Drinking enough water dilutes the concentration of waste products in the kidneys, which makes it easier for these organs to do their job. If you don’t drink enough water, urine and waste products become more concentrated, making them harder to remove and increasing the strain on the kidneys.
3. Aerobic Fitness
Your muscles need water to work properly, but it’s not just about hydration during exercise. Muscles need oxygen to create energy and make physical exertion possible. If you’re dehydrated, less oxygen gets through to them because some is used for digestion instead. Drinking plenty of water before working out gives your muscles the resources they need for aerobic fitness.
4. Muscle Volumization
When you exercise, your muscles require more oxygen than usual. If they don’t get it, fatigue sets in more quickly, and it’s harder for them to recover after a tough workout. Drinking enough water helps ensure that your muscles stay well-hydrated (they’re 70% water) so that they can function at their peak level. This is also called muscle volumization — basically, keeping them fed with nutrients and ready to work.