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Hydration and Bodybuilding: Drinking Water to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

Why Staying Hydrated is the Key to Fast Muscle Growth and Fat Lose

It’s a common misconception that you can actually shed fat through sweat! Some uninformed people think that sweat actually contains fat, and the more you sweat, the faster you drop those stubborn pounds. 

Let’s get one thing straight: The body isn’t losing fat when you perspireit’s actually losing water, an important component in the muscle-building and toning process.

Water accounts for 50 to 60 percent of the body’s overall mass and accounts for 75 percent of muscle mass. Several studies have shown that losing even just 2 percent of the total body water (TBW) can result in weaker muscles and performance. And if you’re someone who constantly burns through sets during a workout session, sweating too much and failing to drink fluids won’t translate well into the gains you want. However, encompassing a well hydrated body with the best legal steroids alternatives will just wash away stubborn fat and replace it with lean muscle.

Research data also show at least 75 percent of Americans are dehydrated. So it should come as no surprise that around 40 percent of the US population above 20 years old are people suffering from obesity.

But don’t get us wrong: Water doesn’t just wash away stubborn fat and replace it with muscle. That’s not how it works, but proper hydration does help your fitness goals, and it is extremely important for overall health!

Why Is Proper Hydration Important?

First off, it’s important to note that water helps in the entire exercise process by normalizing core temperature. When muscles begin burning through the body’s energy storage (fat) during physical activity, the body tries to keep its standard temperature by sweating out its water deposits.  

However, water is also an essential element in keeping blood volume to optimal levels to help distribute energy-generating molecules throughout your muscle cells. So when the body feels like it no longer has enough supply to maintain these processes simultaneously, you may start to feel thirsty or nauseous. These are the first signs of dehydration.

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What Happens When a Person Is Dehydrated?

First, the body’s core temperature will increase. Several studies have shown that excess body heat triggers amine responses. Amines are organic compounds that primarily comprise proteins, the building blocks of muscles. In turn, these processes break down glycogen, a form of stored energy in the body. This means there is less energy for powering through a bodybuilding session because the muscles are already starved of energy at the molecular level. 

All of this also increases the production of ‘lactic acid’ in the muscles. If that word sounds familiar to you bodybuilders out there, it’s because lactic acid is responsible for the ‘sore’ feeling after a workout also called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If no fluids are coursing through the body to keep the temperature down to optimal physiological levels, there’s a higher incidence of skeletal muscles feeling fatigued and worn out.

The body, however, does not keep on expelling fluids despite dehydration. But it sends signals to the brain that the next available glug of water is nowhere to be found, so it goes into emergency mode. To maintain balance with electrolytes, the body keeps whatever water is left in what most people know as ‘water weight’.

How Do You Know When You Are Dehydrated?

People who exercise at a high intensity are at a higher risk of dehydration. If a person works out twice or thrice a day without increasing their fluid intake, certain symptoms may begin to kick in. It is also important to note that as people age, their brains find it harder to detect dehydration. Older folks may already be losing water for the maintenance of bodily processes without knowing it.

Some signs of dehydration include lack of urine, dry mouth, cracked lips, headache, confusion, dizziness, and lightheadedness. However, it is important to remember not to wait for these symptoms to show before rehydration. Weightlifters, bodybuilders, marathoners, and all athletes should replace the body water they lose through exercise as soon as possible.

So What Happens When the Body Has Enough Fluids?

Since water is such a vital component of increasing muscle mass and growth, you must consume as much as your body tells you to. Listening to your body is integral in seeing the bodybuilding gains that you’re after. So when you feel like you need to drink, you better start drinking!

Why? Well, remember what we said earlierthat water augments the body’s blood volume? The blood rushing through your veins during a workout delivers all the necessary nutrients necessary for muscle growth.

One benefit of hydration that is particularly important to bodybuilders and powerlifters is its effects on creatine. Creatine is a supplement can vastly help athletes recover between sessions. Creatine, commonly existent in the form of creatine monohydrate, is a supplement with one molecule of water attached to it. This compound draws water into muscle cells to aid in the building of more protein.

Hydration also helps in weightlifting form. It sounds tangential, but the synovial fluid in the joints of a person’s bones is mostly made up of water. These fluids keep the joints well-lubricated, which helps with flexibility and thus better weightlifting form.

Perhaps the most obvious side effect of proper hydration is peeing more often. Staying hydrated aids in flushing out toxins and other kinds of metabolic waste in the body. And for bodybuilders who either take protein synthesis supplements or wolf down a dozen chicken breasts, water becomes even more important in expelling urea and other excess substances.

Staying hydrated also takes the burden off the liver. The kidney’s filtration system is accompanied by the liver metabolizing fat stored in the body for energy. But if the body lacks water, the kidneys fail to function well and the liver does part of the kidney’s work; this makes the liver inefficient in burning fat. So more water means more legroom for the liver to burn through the stored fat in your body. 

How to Make Sure the Body Stays Hydrated

Now that we’ve listed down the benefits of staying hydrated, you might feel like scoffing down any and all possible liquids to try and level-up your water intake. Again, that’s not how it works. You can’t just drink soda and fruit juice and expect to get the benefits of water.

So how does one stay hydrated?

lady working out

Drink Water When Thirsty

The most obvious rule is to drink water. But how? There’s this popular idiom going around which requires people to drink eight glasses of water a day. However, contrary to popular belief, this is not a hard and fast rule. Moderation is key! There are cases in which people actually developed medical conditions after drinking too much water, believing that a gallon chugged in one sitting is ideal intake.

The best way to gauge when your body needs water is the feeling of thirst. When you feel your throat dry up even the slightest, the best course of action is to grab a water bottle and drink until you’re no longer thirsty.

Set a Drinking Schedule

Habitual water drinking should take a slightly different form when you’re trying to build muscle. Bodybuilders, gym-goers, and other athletes should always set a drinking schedule to accompany their workout plan. Here are the most important times for scheduled hydration:

  • Drink a cup of water at the beginning of a training day to jumpstart the body’s metabolism. 
  • Drink a cup of water before going to bed to lessen the effects of dehydration after an eight-hour sleep.
  • Drink a cup of water after 15 minutes of exercise, or when you feel parched. 
  • Drink at least 2 to 3 cups of water within two hours after your workout. That way, your body has enough fluids to use for chemical reactions linked to muscle repair.

Check Your Pee Color, and Aim for Clear

Urine is another natural indicator of the body’s hydration levels. If your fluid intake is high, pee should turn out clear. If it is a shade of yellow, it means there is a higher concentration of the waste material called urea being flushed out by the kidneys.

If your urine turns out amber or almost brown, you are not drinking enough water to flush out the toxins. It’s a significant indicator that the kidneys are doing way too much work, and the body needs more legroom to excrete harmful substances through hydration.

Other Guidelines for Proper Hydration

To maximize the effects of hydration, we’ve gathered a few additional tips from both medical professionals and athletes pummeling it out on the field:

Tips for Adding Flavor

Some people have trouble drinking plain water because it’s too bland. Luckily, there’s a way to minimize calorie intake while still adding flavor. Add a slice of cucumber or lemon to a jug of water for your next lifting session. The extra acidity from the fruit will also assist in flushing out toxins and cleansing your gut, and it keeps the amount of sugar and preservatives in the body at bay.

Avoid Soda and Juice!

Most people think that anything that contains water will be good for hydration. And while that’s true to some extent, you should always be wary of drinks which contain a high concentration of sugar. Sugar can decrease testosterone, aid in fat production, and give you empty calories; all this will in-turn slow down muscle growth.

Avoid Tea and Coffee!

Some people opt for tea or coffee before a gym session because they think it gives them a little extra boost. Let’s get another thing straight: Coffee is not pre-workout! You might think that a cup of joe will give you the energy to make that extra push-up, that extra barbell press-up, and that extra tricep dip, but you’re dead wrong! Coffee and tea actually cause dehydration!

The substance in question is caffeine, which is present in both drinks. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it forces your body to produce more urine. It makes blood rush to the kidneys and hastens their process of flushing out water in the body.

Have a Water Bottle Handy

This sounds obvious for people who are trying to keep hydrated. But even veteran bodybuilders sometimes forget to bring their own water bottle, often just relying on the water bubblers at the gym! When you drink from a water bubbler you’re only getting tiny mouthfuls, you’re often in a rush, and you have no way to track how much you’re drinking; all this means that you don’t get proper hydration!

Always bring a jug or a water bottle to the gym! Staying properly hydrated during your workout will help you push yourself beyond your limits and will help your body deliver proper hydration when it needs it most!

Eat Food High in Fluids

Although it may sound a little kooky: you can actually eat your way toward proper hydration! There are plenty of fruits and vegetables out there with high water content. Watermelons, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, and citruses, in particular, are known for containing a lot of water in their flesh.

Never Underestimate the Power of Water!

It goes without saying that hydration is extremely important for the body! The average human being can’t live any longer than three days without water and you’re never going to see any gains in the gym if you’re not properly hydrated. 

High muscle mass can only be achieved if your body is performing well. And it won’t perform well if the fluids it loses in workouts are not constantly replaced. Remember to stay hydrated; not just for bodybuilding purposes, but for your overall health.

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