We all know water is important, but I found this article to be helpful and interesting.
Hydration in Bodybuilding
Article by Ozzy and James Collier
Why is water so important for bodybuilding?
The main function of water is its role in temperature regulation. We generate heat when we train and there are numerous mechanisms which the body calls upon to lose heat. Obviously the surrounding environment plays a role, but a significant method of cooling is sweating: The evaporation of fluid from the skin is very effective. During prolonged exercise it is possible to lose as much as two litres of sweat per hour. This would be ideal in keeping us cool, but unfortunately not all sweat evaporates, as some drops off the skin and is wasted.
Losses of fluid corresponding to as little as 2% of body weight can seriously impair the capacity to perform muscular work. In temperate climates, most athletes lose 1-5% of body weight in prolonged exercise, even when taking regular fluid throughout. In extreme conditions, losses of 8-10% have been reported. In severe dehydration and electrolyte loss, a reduction in blood plasma volume can occur, which could result in circulatory failure.
Water transports oxygen, nutrients, hormones and antibodies through the blood stream and lymphatic system (used to fight cancer, viruses, bacteria and infections). This is obviously important to us as we push our bodies hard in the gym and by doing so we greatly increase the amount of water that our body excretes. When we are dehydrated our immune system is therefore open to invasion from outside entities and we are more susceptible to the attack. Thus good hydration helps to protect us from this.
Brain tissue is 85% water and it uses a twentieth of the body's blood supply. When you are dehydrated you have less water in the blood and this lack of water can reduce brain functions and can cause fatigue, depression, stress and can also lead to migraines which may be also be an indicator or poor body temperature regulation.
Muscle is 75% water, so it is important that a high water level is maintained in order to prevent muscular dehydration. When muscles become dehydrated they are open to possible loss of strength and cramps. Cramps are a muscle spasm where a muscle contracts abnormally and locks into an awkward position. Although the direct cause of cramp remains unknown, it is known that muscles that are over-worked, injured or exposed to extreme temperatures are more likely to succumb to cramp. Water helps to regulate our body temperature and aids in the transport of nutrients to cells, so by increasing water intake we can reduce the risk of cramp.
Water is a lubricant for the joints and the cartilage between the vertebrae and at the end of long bones at synovial joints there is also a significant amount of water. Cartilage needs to be well hydrated as this prevents abrasive damage occurring when the opposing surfaces of the cartilage make contact with each other. Long term inadequately hydrated joints can lead to friction damage resulting in joint deterioration and pain.
Another reason that water is also important to bodybuilders is due to the fact that when we dehydrate, our body's solution loses viscosity, which, in turn, reduces the efficiency of the protein and enzyme functions of the body. So when we are trying to increase our protein absorption water is a fundamental aspect as acids and enzymes in the stomach break food down into a more fluid state as part of the digestion process. Lack of fluid means you will not be able to break down the food easily and efficiently.
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