My state has the most strict laws and guidelines on what a person working as a trainer or Exercise Physiologist can share about nutrition compared to a nutritionist compared to a Registered Dietitian. I very much appreciate this because that means that textbooks and continuing education materials use my state as a reference or example when it comes to explaining scope of practice. Growing up in a family of emergency healthcare workers, scope of practice is nothing new to me and is in fact quite important. I decided that I was not satisfied with what my EP-C allowed me to tell my clients about nutrition – mainly because I disagreed with most of the outdated, proven-by-science-to-be-wrong nutrition guidelines set by our federal government. Wanting to give my clients the best coaching I could, I’ve enrolled in a nutrition specialist course to expand my scope of practice. This does not make me a nutritionist, but it allows me a bit more freedom when giving nutrition guidance.
Even before I expanded my scope of practice, I was able to and did work with my clients on their hydration status. Nearly every, single day, I had a client saying they were dizzy; their blood pressure was low; they had no energy; and the list continues. Every single day I asked, “how much water are you drinking every day?”
Everybody thinks they drinks lots of water, definitely enough, throughout the day. Most everybody is wrong! The general rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces.
For example, I weigh 200 pounds which means I need to be drinking 100 ounces of water every day – roughly 2 liters – to keep my body functioning at optimal level as far as hydration is concerned. Again, this is a general rule of thumb when it comes to water intake; if you have any health concerns such as kidney or liver disease, you should check with your doctor or a Registered Dietitian for advise specific to you. (Nutritionists are not allowed, in most states, to give advice based on your medical history because they do not have the in-depth training – education and experience – to know how your body will react to different diets.)
When I tell clients how many ounces their weight indicates they should be drinking, the reaction is typically the same, along the lines of:
I’ll be running to the bathroom all day!
That’s a lot! Does coffee count?
How am I going to do that?!
How I answer them is a very basic, simple explanation with the offer to come back the next session with articles if they would like a more in-depth answer.
Your body is essentially in survival mode right now if you’re not getting enough water. It’s holding water weight (one potential reason you cannot seem to shed those extra inches or pounds even though you exercise daily) to ration out to the different body systems as needed. Body systems that need water include your organs including your skin, nervous system, and musculoskeletal system (think around your joints).
When you start drinking that amount water, yes, you will be running to the bathroom more frequently because your body is not used to getting that much water. Once it realizes that this is the new norm, that it is getting enough water to properly function to where it does not need to store water for future use, those trips will become less frequent. You will likely feel more energized or alert now that everything is able to function at optimum.
No. Coffee does not count, neither do energy drinks, tea, alcohol or any of that awful, awful pop. Those all have side effects causing your body to work which means you’re having to use some of that energy provided by water to filter through the coffee and such.
Get a good (ideally BPA free) water bottle. Mine are mostly 1 liter water bottles so I know if I drink 3 of them, I’ve hit my daily goal. Carry it around with you. In this day and age, work places and schools allow water bottles to be kept within easy access if not right beside you. Since I’m at work most of my waking hours, I split that time in two and have the goal of drinking one liter in each half. When I get home, I drink the 3rd liter.
From personal experience, once you have been in the habit of being properly hydrated, you know when you did not get the proper amount of water. I feel sluggish, don’t want to move let alone work or exercise. Reflexes are slowed or at least feel slowed; level of alertness is lowered and so on. That’s just the energy level, not even counting the joints that feel more stiff or food that does not sit well!
“Water is the driving force of all nature.” Leonardo da Vinci
Photo found via google search, credited to Robyn Tucker, Water Technology.