People are always looking for a quick fix when it comes to health and fitness. Companies in the industry take advantage of this: they market their products as the solution to all your frustrations. The harsh truth is this: no single product is going to get to your goals. There's no pill you could take to instantly lose 50 lbs of fat; even weight loss surgeries, which do work, necessitate that you change your lifestyle after the surgery to maintain your new body.
There is no quick fix in fitness. But there are basic things you could start doing that would benefit every aspect of your lifestyle, both inside and outside of the gym. To me, one of these basic things is drinking more water.
Water itself is simple. It has no taste and no calories. Frankly, it's the most important thing that I consume in my diet. More important than creatine... more important than kale... more important than eggs. All of these are staples in my diet, but water is phenomenal. It affects so many different aspects of your health.
People can survive a week without food. Heck, some people can even stay wide awake for a few days straight and barely survive. But if you go 2 days without water, you will die. 48 hours and it's game over.
But nobody seems to drink enough of it. The vast majority of people are dehydrated, including some who live active lifestyles. Could you imagine what happened if you stopped drinking water, period? I mean think about what happened to SpongeBob without it:
He doesn't look Insta-worthy here, does he? The same might happen to you if you skimp on water!
Seriously though, let's look at some specifics of why water is so important.
Water plays a big role in building big muscles. Your muscles are mostly made of water. Hypothetically, if you ripped out your muscles and sapped them of any water content, you would be left with tiny strings of organic tissue; your swole arms would suddenly be smaller than your wrists! When properly hydrated, however, your muscles are large and with big veins to boot.
You notice the impact of water on the muscles at the gym especially. Think about when you get a pump doing high reps on curls or another exercise. Your muscles are inflating due to water temporarily being (too bad it's temporary; I wouldn't mind my muscles looking pumped 24/7) stored there during the workout.
Drinking sufficient water before, during, and after your workouts is key for optimal muscle gains. I usually take sips between every set of my workout to make sure I'm properly hydrated. This is even more important during cardio workouts than during lifting workouts; going for a run leaves you sweating far more than sets of Deadlifts and Overhead Press.
Water facilitates your fat loss process as well. Water helps detox your body and triggers your fat burning processes. If you're currently trying to lose weight but aren't drinking much water, you're sabotaging yourself. You need to keep yourself hydrated in order to promote fat loss and retain your muscle.
Being dehydrated has a noticeable effect on your belly as well. There's a thin layer over your abs that isn't fat: it's water. When you're not drinking enough water, your body thinks that you're dehydrated and retains any water it has in response. The layer blurs the muscle definition you would normally see in your six pack. So even though technically this subcutaneous water layer isn't fat, it's still no good for your physique.
Health is far more than just fat and muscle. Your immune system is a vital organ system and can hinder your fitness if not taken care of. I usually get a cold once, maybe twice a year, and I never had an immune system this strong in high school or earlier. Back in the day I would get sick 4 times a year or more. By living a healthier lifestyle, however, I've managed to avoid this. Water plays a key role in this process.
What's the most common tip mothers tell their children when they get sick? It's to drink plenty of fluids; water is the best fluid that there is. Whether you have a minor cold or a serious infection, drinking water will help you flush the germs out of your system and restore your body to its healthy state.
Water needs will vary from person to person, but generally, I would say 1 gallon a day should keep you covered. If you spend a lot of time outside in the heat or exercise rigorously each day, you might need even more than that. Personally, I drink my water out of a 25 ounce Swell bottle and I fill it up at least 4 times a day. I usually sip out of it every 10 minutes throughout the day.
An even simpler rule is this: drink enough water that you urinate every 1 - 2 hours. Also, your urine should be clear; a yellow color, especially one with a dark tint, hints that you're dehydrated at the moment.
Now this 1 gallon amount includes all fluids in your system. So if you're drinking juice or milk, those count too. Vegetables and fruits contain trace amounts of water as well; all of these thing add up toward that 1 gallon number. Coffee and tea are diuretics, but they're still liquids you're pouring into your system.
It's really not hard to do this! Drinking enough water is simpler than any other fix you need to make in your training. Correctly performing the Squat or other exercises can be complex, but there's nothing easier than filling up a bottle throughout the day and drinking from it.
There you go guys! Simple enough, I think. Start drinking more water and you'll notice amazing results across all aspects of your life.