by Kris Pitcher
Water can be a weighty subject. People have all kinds of ideas about water. Ideas about how much you should drink, when you should drink it, when you shouldn't drink it, and in physique sports...there is just so much to cover.
Let's start with some basics. The human body is about 60% water. Our brain and heart are 73% water. Water makes up 83% of our lungs. Skin, our bodies largest organ, is 64% water. Did you know your bones have water? Bones contain about 31% water. Finally, our muscles (and kidneys incidentally), are made up of 79% water.
People talk a lot about "water weight". "I'm retaining water." Or, "I'm bloated." Well, water is not only important, it's critical. Water is life.
How do we lose water? We lose water through exhalation, sweating, urination, and our bowel movements. All of our systems rely on water to function. You might be wondering, with all this water loss, how much should you drink?
The Institute of Medicine recommends 3.3 liters for men, and 2.2 liters for women. These are for average, healthy, adults in a temperate climate. If you are active "above average", and/or live in a warm or humid, or cold, climate, or at elevation...those recommendations go up.
Can you drink too much? Yes. Water toxicity is a condition that can kill you. Can you drink too little? Yes. Dehydration, even at it's mildest state causes headaches and fatigue. Take it too far and that heart of yours requiring 73% water, can't function. This will kill you too.
This is why athletes carry around their gallon jug, and work on that all day long. Larger people need more. Smaller people need less. It kills me when a 120 pound bikini competitor is pushing 3 gallons of water. Protocols for male bodybuilders don't apply to her. (That's another conversation.)
Understanding the basics, let's talk about how much water weighs. A gallon of water weighs eight pounds. Eight. We also take in water through our food, and other beverages we might have. I'm always perplexed at the end of the day when I see people weigh themselves at the gym. I'm presuming they've had plenty of water along with their meals. Not the time to weigh.
When you sweat, or sit in the sauna, or wrap yourself with something to make you sweat...you are losing water. Just water. Not anything else (like fat). And as soon as you replace the water, your cells will take in what they need to function. Sweating isn't the process by which we burn fat (that too is another conversation).
Our weight fluctuates day to day, during the day, with our hormonal cycles, partially as a result of this weighty issue of water. We are taking some in, expending some, it's a constant balancing act. One of the best things you can do is be consistent with your water intake.
Our bodies like consistency, and our hydration is no exception. Keep that 60% in mind as you work through your day to get your water in. Your body is 60% water. Muscles, 79% We need water. Your climate and activity level are factors to consider in determining how much you should drink.
Now you've gotten your feet wet with the basics of water. Water is your friend. Drink your water.