Your Hydration Could Be Killing Your Performance

Water makes up about 60-70% of your bodyweight. If that statement alone doesn't tell you how important water is, I don't know what will. Some of the roles that water has includes:

  • Maintaining the health and integrity of every cell in the body

  • Aiding in blood circulation

  • Carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells

  • Regulating body temperature through sweating

  • Moisturizing the skin

  • Moistening mucous membranes

  • Lubricating and cushioning joints

  • Aiding in digestion

  • Helping convert food to energy

  • Helping the body absorb nutrients

  • Protecting and cushioning vital organs

  • Removing waste

As you can see, water is pretty darn important! According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, the average American drinks a little more than 4 cups of plain water per day. That's only 32oz. I could literally drink that in one sitting! Now, the average American is also probably not exercising 5x per week, either. However, those people are probably taking in more fluids from soda and coffee than plain water which is where the problem lies. 

Water is also  extremely important for athletic performance.The main reasons dehydration has an adverse effect on exercise performance can be summarized as follows:

• Reduction in blood volume

• Decreased skin blood flow

• Decreased sweat rate

• Decreased heat dissipation

• Increased core temperature

• Increased rate of muscle glycogen use

A reduction of just 2% of fluid can result in degraded performance by as much as 10-20% which is huge. With the amount of time you put into training for an event, your performance can decrease a ton just because you didn't drink enough water. Seems like such a minuscule thing but yet not enough people are aware of how important it is to be adequately hydrated.

The ACSM provides the following guidelines for the maintenance of optimal hydration: 

  • Before Exercise: 16-20 ounces within the two-hour period prior to exercise.

  • During Exercise: 4-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes during exercise.

  • Post Exercise: Replace 24 ounces for every one pound of body weight lost during exercise.

The excuse of not drinking enough water for a lot of people comes down to the fact that they don't like the taste of plain water. It makes sense. I don't like writing research papers but I still have to do it anyway for school. Sometimes you have to do things you don't like because they are good for ya. After being consistent with your water intake, I am sure it will grow on you. Some tips I like to give people to increase their water intake are:

  • Add some flavor to it

  • Drink from a gallon (can be annoying but some people do it!)

  • Buy a cool and big water bottle so it keeps you from having to refill it so much

  • Set time goals with how much you want to drink by certain times of the day

  • Track it with an app

Typically I'll recommend people to shoot for 100oz a day. For athletes it can be much higher than that depending on their training volume, how much they sweat, their sodium intake, etc. It's different for everyone. But your goal right now should be just to drink MORE than you already are, because I guarantee you aren't drinking enough! ;-)


American, M. E., Sawka, M. N., Burke, L. M., Eichner, E. R., Maughan, R. J., Montain, S. J., & Stachenfeld, N. S. (2007, February). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. Retrieved from

Dehydration and its effects on performance. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Lauren Bordelon