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Carolyn’s Workout Diary: Magic of water

In week five of her six-week GetRunning Refinery challenge MiNDFOOD associate editor Carolyn Enting and her fellow refinery participants are challenged to drink 2 litres of water a day.

Carolyn’s Workout Diary: Magic of water

Last week I added a new word to my vocabulary – slake. To ‘slake’ one’s thirst or quench. It’s taken my fancy so indulge me when I use it here.

It’s also appropriate considering one of the challenges of week five of the GetRunning Refinery is to drink 2 litres of water per day.

Coincidentally I set this as one of my three personal goals at the beginning of this challenge because I’ve always found it hard to drink the “recommended 8 glasses of water a day”.

You’d think after four weeks of drinking 2 litres a day this challenge would be a piece of cake? Wrong. After having success at shedding now more than 3kgs (one of my other goals was to lose 3kgs in 6 weeks) I discovered that I was tempted to become a bit complacent. If it wasn’t for the reminder set on my phone by my supportive man telling me to drink 400mls of water “now” – I might have dropped the baton.

Knowing how terrible I am at drinking water, even if I have a water bottle on desk, he concocted this plan and it’s worked. The seven daily reminders, set at two hour intervals to drink 400mls of water, makes it much more achievable. I’ve also taken the lid off the 1.25l Pump bottle on my desk and am measuring out the water into a glass. I’ve found it is far easier to drink more water from a glass, than a tiny nozzle.

So why this obsession with drinking 2 litres of water (minimum I’m told)? And what has it to do with weight loss, exercise and running?

“Your body is made up of around 50 to 60 per cent water, and maintaining this balance is essential for your health and wellbeing. Water helps energise muscles which is key when we are training, helps keep your skin looking good, helps your kidneys in cleansing the toxins out of your body, and keeps you regular,” says GetRunning Refinery nutritionist Sarah Sinclair. “Research shows that drinking at least 2 litres of water throughout the day can assist in curbing your appetite, helping you eat less and further aiding in your weight loss efforts. Some people mistake thirst for hunger and eat when they’re actually just thirsty. Before you reach for that snack, have a drink of water and see if you really are hungry.”

That’s not all that is interesting about water and exercise. When you run or exercise moderately, you sweat, says Sinclair. The more you sweat, the more your blood volume decreases. The more your blood volume decreases, the harder your heart has to work to deliver oxygen to your working muscles. Why is your blood volume relevant?

“Blood is approximately 93 per cent water, muscle is about 73 per cent water and body fat is about 10 per cent water,” says Sinclair. “An increased concentration of particles in your blood triggers the sensation of thirst. If you are a 70kg runner, you’ll start to feel thirsty once you’ve lost about 1 to 2 per cent (700grams to 1.4kgs) of your body weight.”

Research shows that performance starts to wane at this 2 per cent level of dehydration of up 20 per cent. It slows you down, which is significant enough to ensure you’re not thirsty, though it’s not enough to cause any major health issues.

The good news, if you find drinking water a challenge like I do, is that other fluids count.

According to Sinclair, oatmeal is 84 per cent water, low-fat milk is 90 per cent water (though it has added sugar so watch that), coffee 99.5 per cent, lettuce, 96 per cent, tomato 95 per cent, broccoli 89 per cent and yoghurt 79 per cent.

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