Current trends in water consumption and its effect on the body can be confusing. During the past couple of years, deaths related to hyponatremia, which can be a result of consuming too much water (fluid) though other factors may be the cause, have received media attention. You can read more about hyponatremia in this write-up from the Mayo Clinic, but understand that it is a state during which sodium concentrations in the body have been reduced, leading to health complications that can ultimately result in death.
At the same time, many coaches, athletes, doctors, and other health and fitness related individuals tout the benefits of consuming adequate fluids, in many cases before the onset of thirst. We invite you to perform research into the benefits of appropriate hydration and the adverse effects of under-hydration on performance and well-being. You might try a search such as "how does water loss affect exercise performance" or "how does water loss affect health." Remember to keep your filter on as you research and look for sites that are .edus, .orgs, or that otherwise have a reputable background.
Hyponatremia is a serious, though rare, condition. Most people will never experience this issue. We invite you to research this topic, perhaps using search terms such as "hyponatremia incidence in athletes." Having said that, it is important to be aware of the issue and to drink appropriately. Like many things when it comes to health and fitness, the level of water intake you should consume is based on your unique situation. For example, Nathan drinks 1.5-2 gallons of fluids daily while Grace consumes upwards of a gallon. Some clients consume only a two-liter daily.
Understand that water consumption is necessary for energy processes to occur in the body, cooling of the body, removal of waste, blood production, the hydration of mucus membranes, and a number of other bodily processes, such as saliva formation. You must consume adequate amounts of water.
At the same time, remember that while hyponatremia is often related to, and recently demonized as, the result of too much water intake, it is actually the result of reduced sodium concentrations in the body. Consuming electrolyte drinks can help keep sodium levels balanced.
Finally, understand that the body can only process fluid intake so quickly. Drinking a two-liter of water during exercise may not be more efficient than drinking 16-32 ounces of water during exercise.
In the end, you must drink the amount of water (fluid) that is appropriate for you. If unsure, let thirst be your guide. However, over time, you should develop a method to keep hydrated through the day. For example, you might drink 8-16 ounces of water in the hour before exercise, and drink an additional 8-16 ounces of water during exercise. At the same time, adding electrolytes to the mix may prove helpful. This approach could prove more beneficial than trying to consume 16-32 ounces of water during a workout.
If you have questions, reach out to us.