Instead of thinking about a complete overhaul of your diet, start with these small things you can do today. They can make a big difference. – By Selene Yeager
1. Drink more water
Water is an essential nutrient for life and is the ideal drink to quench thirst and ensure hydration. The current recommendation of fluid intake is eight glasses of water a day. However, it is difficult to decide on an exact recommendation that will suit everyone. If you’re exercising, you’ll need more. The weather can also affect the body’s fluid requirements.
- Start by increasing your intake by taking frequent small sips of water.
- Always keep a bottle of water with you. Have a bottle of water in the car and carry a bottle with you.
- Have a water jug in full view. Make it your aim to empty it by the end of the day. Aim for a fairly even intake over the whole day.
- Start each meal with a glass of water.
- Have a full glass of water when you take medicines or vitamins – not just a sip.
- Drink a glass of water with each meal and after every loo stop.
ON THE BIKE
Drinking enough on the bike is a skill you learn, so practise drinking frequently even on short rides. Cyclists should be well hydrated before exercise and drink enough fluid during and after exercise to balance fluid loss.
The 2009 joint position statement of the American Dietetic Association (ADA), Dietitians of Canada (DC), and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggest to consume at least five to 7ml of fluid per kilogram of bodyweight, four hours before exercise. The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine also suggests no more than 400 to 800ml of fluid per hour during cycling.
Sports beverages containing carbohydrates and electrolytes may be consumed before, during and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration, provide fuel for muscles, and decrease risk of dehydration and unhealthy low-sodium levels occurring in the blood.
Scientific studies link adequate fluid intake to productivity in the workplace. Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA) report that loss of fluid equal to 2% of body weight is sufficient to cause a detectable decrease in both mental and physical performance (that’s a 1.4 kg loss in a 70 kg cyclist). Dehydration increases the risk of symptoms such as fatigue, loss of concentration and memory.