Overhydration – Can Too Much Water Harm You?

Overhydration – Can Too Much Water Harm You?

Athletes have always been told to properly hydrate. The thing about athletes is that we are extremists. In the pursuit to be our very best, more is always better.

Staying adequately hydrated turns into slamming gallons and gallons of water. This might seem harmless, but this can hurt, or even KILL you!

Related - Calculate Your Daily Water Intake

One notable case was when a 17-year old high school football player died from water intoxication after drinking four gallons of water to reduce cramping. [1] There have been a few cases like this, although not many results in death.

What is Hyponatremia?

Hyponatremia is a condition where sodium content in the body is too low. Yes, sodium too low. I bet you were told that sodium isn’t necessary and makes you hold water?

I bet the weirdos in government health positions had you convinced that salt kills you and is poison. Those morons are wrong!

Salt and its electrolyte friends potassium, calcium, and magnesium are essential. For now, let’s focus on salt, or sodium since this is the mineral directly involved in preventing hyponatremia.

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Sodium is especially important for athletes and also regulates a ton of functions in the body. It helps to maintain hydration, enhance the immune system to prevent sickness, aids in digestion by aiding in the production of digestive juices, and even helps regulate blood sugar.

So why is salt so vilified?

Basically, we listened to stupid people who had a grudge or jumped to conclusions. It started with one French Doctor who had six patients who had hypertension and also, coincidentally ate a lot of salt.

Yes, six people and this dude thought he had an epidemic. And one idiot believed him.

Enter Lewis Dahl. This scientist, we will call him that because the other word is inappropriate, found that Asian Countries that as a whole ate a lot of salt had higher average blood pressure. Other lifestyle issues be dammed, this guy had a raging hard-on for salt.

So, in 1977 he went in front of the US Senate’s Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs and lobbied for decreased salt in the American diet.

Despite no evidence that any population actually had any issues from salt, those fit geniuses in the U.S. Government with their shredded abs and bulging biceps recommended that American’s cut their sodium intake by 50-85%.

Why 50-85%? Well, that’s just the range they pulled out of their rectums.

There you have it, the government ain’t so bad now after all. So bring on your Michelle Obama school lunches and MAGA hats.

But let’s get back to the good stuff.

How do we avoid this issue? How do we not literally drown our body in water? How much water do we really need?

For this I will throw science out the window – there are too many variables to make a blanket recommendation! But as an elite performance coach and an athlete myself, we have certain things we can do to prevent this issue if it is an issue. But even if it isn’t an issue, here is how we become OPTIMAL.

Drink as you need for thirst. This is hard to gauge, but studies have shown that if you drink as needed for thirst you’ll be fine. This whole, “if you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” is rubbish.

To make this simple, aim for a gallon a day. If it’s hot and you’re training hard, hit two gallons. ALL LIQUIDS COUNT – including coffee and other drinks. Caffeine is a MILD diuretic. If you think the caffeine will negate that 20oz venti, you’re high.

Supplement with Electrolytes in your water. All day I fill and refill my 32oz shaker cup. I throw in 1-2 scoops of MTS Nutrition Naturalyte in it. It is delicious (try the Peach Mango!) and all natural.

Naturalyte uses only sea salt for its sodium source, which is superior to table salt (sodium chloride) and also adds the other needed electrolytes calcium, potassium, and magnesium and adds coconut water powder for its numerous health benefits and naturally occurring electrolytes.

Sea salt or Himalayan pink salt your food to taste. See my article on this here. Salting your food to taste will ensure an adequate balance of electrolytes.

Don’t stress it! Salt isn’t bad, but that doesn’t mean you need to load it in. Be sure to not fear it, stay adequately hydrated but don’t overdo it, and you should be just fine!

References

1) "Teenager Dies of Water Intoxication from Drinking Four Gallons." Mail Online, 12 Aug. 2014, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2722957/High-school-football-player-17-dies-water-intoxication-drinking-four-gallons-fluids-stop-cramps-practice.html.

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