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How to know if you are hydrated enough

It’s hot, you’re working hard and sweating profusely…. How do you know if you are hydrated enough?

Seems a group of scientists have done the dirty work for us at Arkansas University and have found that you need to be urinating (when you feel the urge, not just because it’s a convenient time) five times in 24 hours to make sure that you are optimally hydrated.

This information is important, because the results of chronic dehydration in a normal non exercising population “may lead to chronic medical problems, such as kidney stones, urinary tract infections, constipation, adenomatous polyps and chronic kidney disease”.

Clearly, this is something we should avoid! Health is pretty closely tied with performance!

Though we have all been told about making sure that our urine is clear in colour, this isn’t always accurate, obviously if there is bad light in the loo, or if the bottom of the loo's got a bit dodgy!

So, for regular day to day accuracy, the scientists got a group of people together, got them to drink different amounts of water and captured the urine and other pieces of information over a 24 hour period.

The long and the short of it is that the optimally hydrated participants after measuring the colour, osmolality and specific gravity had the urge to urinate five times per day. Those that were less optimally hydrated had the urge to go only three times per day and their wee was darker, smellier, stronger and had a higher specific gravity.

It must be stressed that this was not an exercising group of people, so further information on that is required to make sure it’s accurate for you in the shed.

So, in general, all there is for you to do is to take note of how many times you NEED to go during the day, and keep track. Looking at the colour is also a good idea if you are able, as lighter coloured urine is always an indication that your body has enough fluid in it, and the kidneys are letting water go. So - drink up! (But not too much, more on that here!)

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2015), 1–4

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