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How to Tell if You're Dehydrated

It's probably not something you think about often, but water levels in the body can have a huge impact on performance both inside and outside of the gym. Many people underestimate the amount of water they need to drink each day – it can be easy to lose track of hydration during a busy day-to-day schedule.

But not drinking enough water can lead to some serious problems. Even mild dehydration can lead to fatigue, irritability and difficulty concentrating. In the case of severe dehydration, dizziness, diarrhea and nausea that leads to vomiting are all potential symptoms.

In this article, we'll go over some of the signs of dehydration, why it's important to consume enough fluids, and a few tips to help you stay hydrated and avoid the negative symptoms of dehydration.

The Risks of Dehydration

Dehydration is a condition in which the body does not have enough fluids to operate at an optimal level. From muscles to veins to skin and organs, the human body is comprised of about 60% water, which is why it's so important to consume a sufficient amount of water. The body can survive for multiple weeks without food in extreme scenarios, but only a few days without water.

Functionally speaking, not having enough water can pose some significant challenges throughout your day, even if you aren't hitting the gym for a workout. Headaches and thirst are common side effects experienced by those who are dehydrated. The mental effects of dehydration can even cause mild confusion, especially if it's early in the morning or you also haven't eaten.

And in the gym, not drinking enough water can seriously impact your performance. If you're working out intensely, you'll lose even more fluids through your sweat – especially if you aren't replenishing your body with fluids, sodium and electrolytes. You'll also get tired earlier and won't be able to lift as much during strength training.

Signs you may be dehydrated

While the cause of dehydration is relatively straightforward – not drinking enough fluids – it's sometimes difficult to tell if you're experiencing this condition, especially when running from one obligation to the next during our hectic day-to-day schedules.

Besides the conditions mentioned in the intro, one easy way to determine your hydration level is by noting the color of your urine. Generally speaking, the darker your urine, the more dehydrated you are. If you are well-hydrated, your urine will appear light yellow or clear. If your body is lacking in fluids, it will appear a darker gold, amber color.

Note that sometimes your urine color can be affected by other things you consume. For example, taking a multivitamin with several different vitamins or minerals can cause its color to change. Keep this in mind as you are making a determination about whether or not your body is hydrated.

Outside of your urine color, a few of the most prominent signs of dehydration are feelings of fatigue, hunger, and a dry mouth. If you are very dehydrated, you may get feelings of faintness or even dizziness. In extreme cases, a lack of fluids can even cause fever or a loss of consciousness.

How to prevent dehydration

Speaking broadly, the best way to keep yourself hydrated is to drink plenty of water or other fluids throughout the day. However, that advice is general and may not help everyone maintain adequate hydration levels.

Here are a few specific strategies to help yourself stay hydrated throughout the day:

At the end of the day, everyone has their own system for consuming enough fluids to stay hydrated throughout the day. The key is to figure out what works for you and then stick to it consistently so that you are always drinking enough water.

Final thoughts on maintaining adequate hydration

When it comes to staying hydrated, both understanding the signs of dehydration and knowing what to do about them are equally critical. Lots of people go about their daily lives without ever realizing that their body doesn't have enough fluids to function properly.

Understanding the signs and common causes of dehydration is an excellent first step, but you should also make sure to adjust your daily diet and habits in a way that allows you to prevent dehydration. Whether that comes by keeping a huge water bottle on your desk and sipping it throughout the day, or drinking a glass of water quickly before a meal, try to create some patterns for hydration in your life so that you eventually get to the point where you don't even need to think about it.

Hydration is even more key for athletes and fitness enthusiasts who exercise regularly. Intense workouts cause the body to lose fluids. Without proper rehydration, it's not uncommon to experience muscle cramps, fatigue and light-headedness during activity.

Finally, don't feel like you have to restrict yourself to water or sugar-filled sports drinks for proper hydration. With Gainful's line of personalized hydration products, you can consume a custom-made blend of the ingredients you need to maximize hydration so you can perform your best in the gym or on the field. Choose from a variety of ingredients including calcium citrate, L-theanine, natural caffeine and other important electrolytes – all designed to help support your fitness goals by making it easier for you to get your body in prime condition for activity.

Take our quick 5-minute intro quiz to get started creating a perfect supplement blend for your specific fitness needs.

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