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From the beginnings of life as we know it, a major key to our survival has always been dehydration prevention or keeping hydrated. As humans we can only survive up to 3 days without water which is a pretty scary fact!

From birth we comprise >70% of our body weight from water and this only goes down to 55% in the later stages of life. Water plays a role in many of our bodily functions including but is not limited to;

- regulating body temperature

- transporting nutrients throughout the body

- removing waste

Dehydration can lead to varying levels of risk and health problems including but not limited to;

- heat stroke

- fatigue

- kidney stones

Essentially for cell homeostasis of human life water is a necessity and a daily requirement for optimal health so ensuring you are looking after yourself water should be the #1 priority. In recent years water intake has become a topic of conversation as people discuss its importance however disregard the amount and need for constant intake. This results in you surviving but not thriving.. what is the difference??

Water intake which is not calculated or managed and only taken when the body provides you with a response of 'thirst' will result in hitting the bare minimum the body needs to execute its basic need for life. It's like feeding a plant a few drops of water a week... the plant might survive however it will not look as great as it could if it was provided with the optimal amount it requires to thrive and show its beauty.

What does this mean for performance and exercise?

Maintaining optimal hydration patterns is of high importance for elite and sub-elite athletes as the main priority for this population is optimal performance in their chosen sporting endeavour. If you have undertaken any exercise or sporting bout you would know that feeling of thirst that comes up and if you do not have some water at the hip it can a rough experience!

It is pretty common for athletes during events or even in training to lose 6-10% of their respective bodyweight through sweat leading to dehydration if this is not managed adequately. Water may not be the only requirement to replenish what is lost in a short amount of time and situations where sweat has been lost. Rehydrating with carbohydrate loaded drinks, gatorade, Powerade, may be an aide assisting in replenishing the loss of minerals and micronutrients lost through sweat. It is known also that the point you feel thirst is the point losses in performance have already begun and cautionary measures such as carb/water loading may be beneficial pre competition phase. Losses of performance has been noted to arise with as little as 2% drops in hydration levels in the human body.

Rehydrating during a competition or training bout may aide in improving performance or limiting the negative effects of dehydration however at what point can having water or powerade be a saving grace in these windows. Hypohydration has a significantly higher negative effect on rigorous cardiovascular activities particular those working the aerobic system or endurance based sports/activIties. While this may be seen as a benefit to those participating in anaerobic activities such as sprinting or weightlifting hypohydration will still act in decreasing performance. Why would you want any decrement in performance?

It should also be noted that changes in weather conditions or changes in activity levels in a short amount of time will require a shift and modification in hydration needs. Preparing for this change could involve periods of loading to ensure the athlete is prepared for a change in activity levels or the change in season. Studies have shown that athletes are affected or at greater risk when in hot as opposed to cooler climates.

Something that must be addressed and talked about is changes in cognitive performance which can be severely affected by dehydration. Even mild levels of dehydration can influence disruptions in behaviours, mood and functioning. When in competition, it could be important to address this as your judgement in speed and efficiency may decline with a cognitive imbalance caused by dehydration.

Now let's be honest here, unless you are an athlete walking around with a 2-3L water bottle everywhere you go is not always ideal right... But setting targets and starting small can help you make a habit that will be everlasting.

Be different and become that water drinker that everyone aspires to be! Up your water and you won't look back after you see the benefits of getting it in :)

I'm drinking between 2-4L a day, the reason for such a large difference is because some days I either forget, can't be bothered or I trained heaps and my body was screaming for more water.

My rule of thumb is to drink 35mL for every kg you weigh so for me sitting at around 85-90kg I am supposed to be drinking between 3-4L depending on my activity for that day. Sedentary I would have 600mL less, highly active I would have 600mL more however this is general and something I tend to use that works for me :)

If you have any concerns related to hydration preparation for competition or creating a plan based around hydrating to improve performance reach out for guidance and read further below!


Barry M Popkin, Kristen E D'Anci, Irwin H Rosenberg, Water, hydration, and health, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 68, Issue 8, 1 August 2010, Pages 439–458,

Convertino, V.A. et al. (1996) “ACSM position stand: Exercise and fluid replacement,” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 28(10), pp. i-ix. Available at:

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