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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Overhydration: Is it Possible to Drink Too Much Water?

GettyImages-915780152One thing that I’m sure you have heard is the importance of drinking enough fluids. So if some is good for you, shouldn’t it make sense that more is better?

I have heard many tales of people chugging bottles of water right when they wake up to get it out of the way. Or carrying around a gallon jug of water to keep track of the amount they are getting. It’s nice to have a goal in mind of how many ounces to drink each day; unfortunately that number is different for everyone. Since individuals have different sweat rates, workout routines, diets, height, and weight, each person requires a different fluid goal. Read below to see how to know whether you are getting enough water for your body, and some of the dangers of drinking too much.

Check Your Hydration

The best way to know whether you are getting the proper amount of water or fluid per day is to check the color of your urine:

  • If it’s pale yellow, that’s a good sign.
  • If it’s dark yellow, you need to drink up.
  • If it’s clear, you are overhydrated.

Water Intake Guidelines

Thirst should always be your guide to staying hydrated. If you must count ounces, the Institute of Medicine recommends 78–100 ounces of water per day, or 9–13 cups. Obviously, this can change based on the individual, the activity, and the weather. Something else to keep in mind is that a lot of the foods that you eat are high in water content and can add to your hydration status. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with water. Milk, coffee, tea, and juices also count.

What Happens When You Drink Too Much Water?

Overhydration can lead to water intoxication, which is when the body’s electrolytes such as salt and potassium become diluted. Hyponatremia is when the body’s sodium levels get too low. This is the main concern of overhydration. Athletes are the population most at risk of being overhydrated, especially those who participate in long or intense workouts or endurance events.

The good news is that this is extremely rare and you would need to drink many gallons of water for this to happen. The amount you drink at one time could be more of an issue. Your kidneys can process around half a liter per hour. So chugging liters and liters at a time is when the danger could occur. Symptoms of hyponatremia are similar to heatstroke and exhaustion. A headache, exhaustion, feeling lethargic, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea are all warning signs. If you don’t get help quickly, it can be serious and even deadly.

The best way to prevent hyponatremia is to make sure you aren’t drinking more than you sweat out. Use thirst and the color of urine as a guide. And for those doing endurance events, be sure to have sports drinks that have sodium and other electrolytes and not just plain water.

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: hydration water overhydration

It’s Summertime! Stay Safe in Your Outdoor Exercise

GettyImages-914977726Just like the Fresh Prince says, “Summer, summer, summer time….Time to sit back and unwind!’’ We’ve waited for this time for months, where there is no more snow and plenty of sunshine. Long days of outside fun, no kids in school, road trips and vacations—what more could we ask for?

But, baby it’s hot outside! Don’t let the heat cause you to lose your momentum. You can still keep working hard during the summer time; you just have to adjust a little. Keeping the following summertime fitness tips in mind will help you continue to get stronger and healthier.

Try water workouts.

Choose water workouts and aqua fitness, and make a splash as you get fit and strong. You can even improve your performance in the heat by lowering your body temperature in the pool before heading outside.

Use the shade.

It’s smart to move your workouts to a different location to avoid overexposure to the sun. If you are a runner or a biker, try a route in a wooded area.

Get proper hydration.

Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise. The last thing you want when exercising is for the summer heat to take over. Avoiding caffeine, which forces water out of our systems, is also a good idea. Here are some more tips for getting hydrated.

Choose your clothing carefully.

It is important now more than ever to wear clothing that will move sweat away from your body and help it evaporate quickly. White or light-colored clothing reflects the heat better than darker clothing.

Monitor your heart.

The heat places greater stress on your heart. Be sure to keep an eye on your heart rate as you work out in the heat. Take a break if it starts to spike or get too high.

Beat the heat.

Try beating the heat with an earlier workout time. UVAs are the strongest between 10am and 3pm. Make every effort to minimize your workout outdoors during those hours.

Sunscreen is a must.

Use a stronger SPF just to be safe. It’s important to protect your skin.

Stop if you’re feeling faint or sick.

If you are feeling faint or sick, stop working out immediately. Sit down in the shade, drink water, and always have a nourishing snack available.

Know the symptoms of heatstroke.

Heatstroke is a serious threat that can be fatal. Symptoms include high body temperature (104 degrees or higher); absence of sweating with hot, flushed, or red/dry skin; rapid pulse, difficulty breathing; strange behavior, hallucinations, confusion, agitation, or disorientation; and seizure.

GettyImages-675818642

Hit the gym.

You may find that the best thing to do is simply to stay inside the gym to get your workouts in during the summer. It’s a great time to work on form, increase intensity with no worry of heat exposure, and plan out a new, exciting routine.

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This blog was written by Ashley Duncan, Weight Loss Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: summer hydration water sunscreen outdoor exercise aqua fitness

Focus on Fluids: Summer Hydration Made Easy

ThinkstockPhotos-586741530.jpgFluid (mainly water) is needed by all body cells for function. Water helps to regulate body temperature, carry important nutrients and oxygen to cells, remove waste, lubricate all joints, and protect organs and tissues. Our bodies are composed of approximately 67 percent water. As summer approaches and the temperatures increase outside, it is important to make sure you are taking in enough water.

How Much Fluid Do You Need?

So how much do you really need to be drinking each day?

  • Drink at least 8–12 cups of fluid each day (1 cup = 8 ounces).
  • Drink 2–3 cups (16–24 oz) of fluid about 2–3 hours before exercising.
  • Drink 1 cup (8 oz) of fluid 10–20 minutes before a workout.
  • Drink 1 cup (8 oz) of fluid every 10–20 minutes during exercise.
  • Drink 2–3 cups (16–24 oz) for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.

Infuse Your Water with Flavor

I often hear that water is boring or that many don’t like it, so that is the reason individuals are reaching for soda, juice drinks, or other high-calorie beverages. However, the best option for hydration and decreasing unnecessary sugar intake is still to consume water.

  • Here are a few combinations that you can add to a cup of water or sparkling water for a fun, flavor-filled drink that is not so boring!
  • Watermelon and jalapeño
  • Lime and basil
  • Apples and cinnamon sticks
  • Strawberries and basil
  • Raspberries and pineapple
  • Blueberries, lemon, and mint
  • Peach and mint
  • Cucumber, melon, and mint

Monitor Your Hydration

On a final note, a simple way to monitor your hydration status on a daily basis is to monitor the color and frequency of urination. Continue drinking fluids until you are urinating approximately every 2–3 hours. When your urine is a pale color, you can be confident that you are adequately hydrated. If you are urinating more frequently and/or your urine is clear, you are drinking too much. If you are urinating less frequently and/or your urine is dark in color, you are probably dehydrated and really need to increase your intake of water.

So drink up!

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This blog was written by Angie Mitchell, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: summer hydration water

10 Healthy Habits of Fit People

Let’s get real: getting healthy and fit (and staying that way) doesn’t happen by accident. In my seven years in the fitness industry I have seen quite a bit—enough to know what works and what doesn’t. The people who are able to reach their healthy, happy weight and maintain it end up developing very similar habits to one another. These healthy habits aren’t anything crazy or extreme, but they consistently allow individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle for years and years.

Today I’ve compiled these habits of healthy people so we can all adapt our own habits to be our healthiest selves.

ThinkstockPhotos-4713112341. Start off with a breakfast to FUEL your day.

Remember learning that breakfast was the most important meal of the day? While I believe that all meals are important, breakfast definitely is a meal you shouldn’t consider skipping. Studies show that eating breakfast helps to improve focus, satiety, and energy levels throughout the day. 

So what does that mean for you? You’ll be more productive at work, will work harder during your workouts, and you may have reduced cravings and hunger later in the day. Sounds like a win, win, win to me! 

2. Drink lots of water.

The body is made up of 60% water! Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help maintain your body’s fluid balance so that nutrients can be transported throughout the body. That means you will more quickly reap the benefits of the healthy foods you eat!  

Drinking water throughout the day helps you feel full. It may sound crazy, but many people mistake thirst for hunger and end up overeating. 

It’s also important to drink water because when you stress and work your muscles in the gym, they are losing water. If you aren’t drinking enough water, your muscles will get tired faster and you may not be able to work as hard. So drink up, buttercup!

3. Set a deadline.

People are more efficient and more likely to reach their goals with a deadline in the picture. Having a deadline helps to eliminate procrastination and makes the goal seem more tangible and realistic. Having a deadline doesn’t mean you can start being “unhealthy” after you reach your goal, but it simply allows you to have a checkpoint to work toward. Once you reach your goal and deadline, reevaluate and set a new goal! It’s all about progress, not perfection, and there is always something we can improve on when it comes to health and fitness.

4. Don’t leave your healthy-eating goals to chance. 

I rarely say NEVER or ALWAYS, but this is an exception to that rule. Never assume that there will be a healthy option when you eat away from home. Always be prepared. Check out the restaurant menu ahead of time, pack healthy snacks, bring a lunch, bring a healthy dish to share, or eat something small before so you aren’t starving. You are in control of your health. It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to make sure there is something nutritious for you to nosh on.

5. Remain consistent.

Consistency is key. We all have days where we skip a workout or overindulge, but as long as healthy is your default, there is no need to sweat it! What matters most is what you do most of the time, not what you do sometimes. So, if choosing healthy (moving your body, eating whole foods, and drinking lots of water) is your sometimes, you may want to switch your mindset.

6. Eat whole, real foods.

Make it your goal to have most of your nourishment come from unprocessed, real foods that are as close to the source as possible. What does that mean? Check out the ingredients. If you are eating a handful of almonds for a snack, the only ingredient should be just that: almonds! Whole foods fill your body with more vitamins and minerals, the nutrition we need to stay healthy on the inside.

7. Fill your home with healthy, nourishing foods.

This tip piggybacks onto the previous piece of advice. If you fill your home with whole foods, they suddenly become a more convenient option than the processed stuff, and less healthy options are eliminated from the picture. If you surround yourself with healthy, delicious food choices, you are more likely to pick those foods when preparing a meal or eating a snack.

8. Take your workout with you.

 Many people travel frequently for work, to visit family, or for vacation. While traveling can make it less easy to fit in your workout, it’s definitely not an excuse to slack off in the fitness department. Talk with your trainer about a travel workout option, pack a resistance band or TRX strap, or pack a workout DVD that doesn’t require any equipment at all! There are endless resources for fitness on the go; it just takes a little planning ahead of time.

9. Learn to be politely picky when eating out.

I have learned that I can find something healthy to eat at almost any restaurant. Many times, the option I choose is not listed on the menu. It can be intimidating to ask for special options at a restaurant, but you will be surprised at how accommodating your server and the restaurant want to be. Be polite when you make requests, and your tummy will be happy with the healthy and delicious outcome!

10. Dedicate time to mental health.

Whether you practice yoga, write a journal, meditate, see a therapist, or have another way of dedicating time to your mental health, it is just as important to make time for this type of exercise as it is to make time to go to the gym. Having a healthy mental state will help you stay on track with your fitness goals and will allow you to balance your busy and crazy life with ease. Find the method that works best for you and stick to it!

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This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, contributing writer, group fitness instructor, and author of healthy living blog Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: nutrition healthy habits goal setting snacks breakfast mental weight management water

Water: The Free, Delicious Drink You’re Not Getting Enough Of

waterWater is everywhere but where you need it: inside your body. Do you ever check to see how much water you actually consume a day? How much do you need? The old adage “8 times 8 ounces a day” (or 64 total ounces) is off. Just like everything we know about different body types and metabolism, the amount of water each of us needs will vary. It makes sense that in hot, humid conditions you will sweat more, thus needing more hydration. But do you realize that your hydration levels will dry up in the dry, cold weather of winter, too?

To get a good idea of how much water you need, take your body weight and try to consume that many ounces of water a day. Yes you can count the coffee and tea you drink, but remember that the caffeine will cause you to lose more water. You may be saying, “YIKES, that’s a lot!” But look at the questions below. If you answer yes to one or more, you need to be paying more attention to the amount you take in.

1. Do you talk a lot during your day?

That takes hydration. Since your brain is about 75 percent water, you need adequate water to fully function.

2. Are you stuck in a weight-loss plateau or have found you cannot budge the scales?

Try drinking more water to get your body functioning smoothly, breaking down fat for energy after your tough interval workout, and helping to rebuild the muscles you broke down. This beats your dehydrated body slowing your metabolism and making weight-loss more frustrating than ever.

3. Do you get hungry soon after eating?

It could be hydration issues (it could also be a gluten crash, but we’ll leave that for another day). As you eat protein-rich foods, your body needs more water to break down the protein, so be sure to add more water as you add more protein to your diet.

4. Do you get headaches after a long, stressful, busy day?

Try drinking water to help alleviate your pain. This may be your body telling you that you are dehydrated. See this article about a study that shows how your brain is much more efficient when you drink enough water.

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As you increase your water consumption, of course, you will need to make numerous trips to the restroom, but your body will realize you are doing a good deed for it and adapt. That is more proof of what marvelous machines our bodies are.

You can see what water can do for you to enhance your body’s efficiency and smooth running. If you are looking to slim down, improve both brain and body performance, and help ward off disease and bugs, add more water to your day.

This blog was written by Kris Simpson, NIFS Small Group and Personal Trainer. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: nutrition weight loss hydration water