ultimate guide to water and electrolytes

Ultimate Guide to Water and Electrolytes

Ultimate Guide to Water and Electrolytes

Apart from fueling up with vitamins and minerals that contribute to muscle growth, one must not forget the importance of water and electrolytes in their muscle building journey. In this ultimate guide to water and electrolytes, let’s take a look at the role that they are playing in muscle building and why you should always have them on your workout session.

Water and Muscle Building

We should not underestimate the role that water plays in our body. It is actually among the most important nutrients. Our body can’t simply function without it.

Here’s a fun fact: our lungs are composed of nearly 90% water, blood is 82% water and the brain is 95% water. Our body needs water for it to have its optimum development, growth, and health.

Water does not just make our body function, it also provides many health benefits. Drinking plenty of water every day gives us a healthier skin, teeth, joints, and bones. It also makes our digestive system healthier. Plus, our mind and body work at their optimum too. It also helps reduce fatigue and fluid retention and aids in weight loss.

Can water help you build muscles?

My answer is a big resounding Yes!

Water primarily makes up our muscles. Since 60-70% of our muscles are made up of water, it’s just right that water is critical to obtain muscle growth.

Water helps transport nutrients to every cell in our body. It also helps in flushing wastes and toxins out.  It plays a crucial role in the production of glycogen and protein.

Working out without a bottle of water is like going to war without your armor. You need to be well hydrated if you want to move and flex your muscles properly. You will lose muscle control and strength if you are dehydrated. Not only that, you are more prone to cramps and injury. Without enough water, your muscles won’t contract properly hence it reduces your muscle tone.

Drink plenty of water to help quicken your muscle response and improve the strength of muscle contractions.

How much water should you drink?

man drinking water in the gym

Our mothers always tell us to drink 8-12 cups of water every day.

Well, our mothers are partially correct. The recommended amount of water intake for people who don’t live an active lifestyle is 8-12 cups per day. It’s a different story if you’re trying to build your muscles though.

People who are working out are losing fluid during their exercise so they need to consume more water. You lose approximately 4 cups of water per hour as you exercise. You’re losing about 1/2 to a gallon of water if you’re working out in a hot climate through perspiration.

Depending on your environment and intensity of the workout, you may need to drink 1 gallon of water per day. You can adjust as your need increases accordingly.

Best times to drink water

Key Points To Remember in Drinking Water

  • You must drink water pre, during and post-workout. Not being able to replenish lost fluid can cause cramp and fatigue.
  • Don’t wait to get thirsty before you drink water. Thirst is already a sign of dehydration. If you want to be at your optimum performance at the gym and build more muscle, you have to stay hydrated at all times.
  • Drink at least 16 ounces of water after you wake up to replenish the lost fluid when you were sleeping.
  • Drink more water if you’re caffeine fanatic.
  • It’s preferable that you drink cold water as it gets absorbed more quickly than warm water.

Electrolytes and Muscle Building

It’s true that going to the gym without a bottle of water is a suicide mission.

But is water enough to quench your thirst and replenish your lost fluids?

Water may sometimes not be enough. Remember that it’s not only water that you lose when you sweat. You also lose electrolytes, especially chloride and sodium.

Electrolytes are essential minerals found in your urine, sweat, and blood. These minerals carry a positive or negative electric charge when dissolved in water.

Electrolytes are essential for our body to survive. They serve many functions such as helping rebuild damaged tissue, balancing the acidity and pressure of blood, hydrating the body and regulating muscle and nerve function.

The electrolytes in human bodies include phosphate, chloride, magnesium, bicarbonate, calcium, potassium and sodium. They can be found in a wide variety of food and beverages. Most common sources used by gym goers are sports drinks, orange juice, and coconut water.

Do You Need Electrolytes When You’re Working Out?

drinking electrolytes

This has been one of the longest debates out there.

Other gym-goers believe that they don’t need to supplement electrolytes since they can sufficiently get it from their diet plus their body can efficiently regulate electrolytes too. While the rest of the population are a firm-believer that electrolytes are a must if you want to get the maximum workout result.

If your goal is to bulk up, then you must supplement with electrolytes. Muscle growth can only be achieved if you are properly hydrated. Electrolytes will give you the boost of energy as well as help your muscles function at their optimum.

Here’s when you need electrolytes the most:

  • When you’re working out for more than one hour

Water is only recommended if you’re working out up to an hour. But if you go beyond that, then replenishing with electrolytes is a must. You would also need electrolytes if you’re doing high-intensity workouts on longer duration.

  • When you’re sweating a lot

You also lose electrolytes when you’re sweating. If you’re a heavy sweater, water may not just be enough. By supplementing electrolytes, you’re replenishing lost fluids and making sure that all of your muscle cells are at their optimum condition.

  • When you’re working out on a hot, humid weather

Working out in a hot and humid condition can cause the core temperature of your body to rise. This does not just lead to increased sweating but it also prevents the evaporation of sweat that could cool you down. The hotter the temperature is, the greater your need for electrolytes replenishment.

  • When you feel that water is not sufficient

Our body sends us signals when we are dehydrated. Headaches, nausea, muscle cramps and fatigue are some of the tell-tale signs that your electrolyte levels are dropping. Listen to your body and act on it to make sure that you are properly hydrated.

Water and electrolytes are two important factors that can help you ensure that you are at your best performance every workout session. You should not leave your home without them if you want to buff up.

References:

West, H. (2018). Electrolytes: Definition, Functions, Imbalance and Sources. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/electrolytes

Fetters, K. (2018). How to Tell If You Need Electrolytes During Your Workout. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/fitness/articles/2018-07-13/how-to-tell-if-you-need-electrolytes-during-your-workout

Behar, J. (2019). Understanding The Importance Of Proper Hydration For Maximum Gains In And Out Of The Gym!. Retrieved from https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/behar12.htm

Lumsden, B. (2019). WHY WATER IS IMPORTANT FOR MUSCLE BUILDING. Retrieved from https://relentlessgains.com/why-water-is-important-to-build-muscle-and-how-much/

Pandey, A. (2018). Hydration and Muscle Building – Know the Connection. Retrieved from https://www.gethow.org/hydration-and-muscle-building-know-the-connection