• Country

Can Drinking Water Improve Performance?

By Jiri Kaloc

What does water have to do with performance? Turns out a lot! The human body is about 60 % water. That’s why we are encouraged to drink sufficiently. Although there is little science on how much that is, it’s clear that staying hydrated is crucial if you want to perform. Proper hydration allows you to reach your peak performance, helps you avoid mental weakness and premature feelings of fatigue, and is a valuable ally in losing weight.

Water can help you maximize physical performance

Losing water can significantly impair performance. This is particularly important during the summer months, on big climbs or wherever you tend to sweat a lot. Dehydration can be detrimental if you lose as little as 2 % of your body’s water content. In a long endurance race, it’s not uncommon for athletes to lose up to 6-10 % of their water weight via sweat. This can lead to insufficient body temperature control, reduced motivation, increased fatigue, and mental weakness. Optimal hydration has been shown to prevent all this from happening, and may even reduce the oxidative stress that occurs during high-intensity exercise. To perform at your best, you have to be well-hydrated.

Hydration significantly affects your energy and brain functioning

The human brain is strongly influenced by hydration. Even a mild dehydration of 1 – 3 % of body weight can impair many aspects of brain functioning. In studies, this kind of fluid loss causes bad mood, impaired concentration, increased frequency of headaches, problems with working memory, and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue. Any time you do intense exercise or just sweat a lot during the day, you are at an increased risk of these symptoms. Before you start looking for other potential causes, have a glass of water.

Drinking more water will help you maintain race weight

As unlikely as it sounds, drinking water can actually help you lose excess body fat. It can increase satiety and boost your metabolic rate. A study has shown that drinking 2 liters of water every day can increase your total energy expenditure by up to 96 kcal. For maximum effect you have to not only drink enough but also time your water intake right. Drinking water half an hour before meals is the best, that way it doesn’t interfere with digestion but makes you feel more full, so that you eat a bit less. Drink cold water can also be beneficial, because the body has to use additional energy to heat the fluid to body temperature.