What Happens When We're Dehydrated

August 16, 2016

We need water to survive. It's a fact of life. When we're pushing our bodies through sport, exercise or simply being active on a hot day, it's even more important to get right. Not only is effective hydration a key ingredient to success, the lack of it (dehydration) can be extremely dangerous, even life-threatening.

Related: Is there such thing as TOO MUCH water? (YES)

To keep our blood flow pumping throughout our body as efficiently as possible, cooling our systems and helping our muscles perform, we need to stay hydrated. Water can't be stored the same way as food in the body, so it's important to constantly replenish our body's h2o, before, during and after workouts.

Much like cars use a radiator, our body uses water to prevent overheating. As we sweat, we are cooling our bodies and our systems. If we are dehydrated as little as 2% of our body weight, our body will stop sweat production, increasing our body temperature. Dehydration could also cause the body to send less blood to the muscles that are working so hard to keep us going. This is not what we want for optimal performance (obviously).

Some signs of dehydration include:

  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle cramping
  • Performance issues
  • Lack of mental acuity

When working out for more than an hour (and sooner when exercising in hot temperatures), it's important to include electrolytes and energy that will help replenish and refuel the body (like GQ6 3:2:1 Hydration Base). There is such thing as "too much water" (hyponatremia), and its effects on performance can be quite similar to dehydration (fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps) - and can be just as dangerous. [Read More]

Related: Hydration Tips

As with everything in sport, having an effective hydration plan takes practice and consistency to get it right. Hydration doesn't start on race day, it starts every day of the week, during our workouts, from the moment we wake up to when we go to bed. Just as you wouldn't wait until race day to start training, you don't want to get stuck playing catch up with your hydration.

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