We all know that drinking enough water is vital to our wellbeing.

But why is this? What happens if we’re not getting enough fluids throughout the day? 

And crucially, to what extent can being dehydrated affect our mental and physical performance?

Here are some interesting facts about hydration and how it impacts the body:

  • The brain is made up of 90% water. It’s the first part of the body to feel dehydrated, and it tells you when it needs more fluid by making you feel exhausted and fatigued. 
  • Being hydrated helps the body to remove and flush out toxins, allowing the immune system to work more effectively and combat viruses and other illnesses. 
  • Good hydration levels will work wonders for your complexion by reducing wrinkles and keeping your skin looking fresh. 
  • Being dehydrated, on the other hand, places a great deal of strain on your system. For example, blood vessels cannot function properly without much water, leading to headaches and tiredness. And if you don’t drink enough fluids, you will activate more cortisol, the stress hormone that in high amounts is responsible for a wide range of emotional and physiological imbalances (and some pretty unpleasant symptoms, including skin changes, mood swings and, over time, weight gain). 
  • Dehydration also encourages your liver and kidneys to store more fat, which could lead to all kinds of health complications if left unaddressed. 
  • Not all liquids will hydrate you. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol will have the opposite effect; they’re diuretics, which means they draw more water from the body than they contribute. 
  • Think you’re hungry? You could in fact just be thirsty! The brain interprets hunger and thirst signals in exactly the same way. So, whenever you get a hunger pang, ask yourself whether you really need to reach for a snack, or whether a glass of water would suffice. 

From my point of view, this statistic is the most fascinating: 

  • A 2% reduction in hydration can reduce your personal performance (output) by 10-20%! 

Clearly, then, we need to make sure we stay hydrated at all times. But how much water is too much water? 

How to calculate your optimum daily water intake

To work out exactly how much water you should be drinking every day to maintain a healthy system and retain your mental focus, you need to divide your weight (in pounds) by 50. 

This will give you the number of litres you should be ideally drinking every day. 

Example: If you weigh 150 pounds – which works out at 10 stone 10 pounds – you should be drinking 3 litres of hydrating fluids per day. 

If you’d prefer to work in kilograms, take your weight in kg and divide it by 25. 

How to keep your hydration on track in three easy steps

  1. Invest in a good quality 1 litre water bottle that you can use any time, anywhere. 
  2. Use the app Waterlogged to track your daily water consumption. Click here for a tutorial on how to get to grips with this! 
  3. Set a reminder on your phone or other smart device to drink water at regular intervals

Don’t be surprised if you need to go to the toilet more often! 

It’s natural to need the loo more than usual after upping your hydration. This is because, by drinking more water, you’ll be clearing your system of many toxins and waste products and replacing them with fluids. 

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I am an experienced, Essex-based health and performance coach who specialises in transforming the lives of burnt-out Senior Executives.

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