Your body has a natural way to warn you it's time to get some fluids in; it is called thirst. Whoever only drinks water when thirsty lives in a constant state of dehydration.

When it's time for your brain to warn you with the thirst feeling, you have already lost about 2/3% of the total liquids in your body. It's needless to specify that your athletic performance and, most important, your health will significantly suffer. 

In a University of North Carolina paper, nutritionists mention the myriad of consequences that even the mildest chronic dehydration can produce on endurance athletes. 

"Individuals engaging in rigorous physical activity will experience decrements in performance related to reduced endurance, increased fatigue, altered thermoregulatory capability, reduced motivation, and increased perceived effort."

That list of side effects from not looking after the proper fluid intake should send shivers down the spine of any endurance athlete. Also, the more your body conforms to a state of chronic dehydration, the more it loses responsiveness to water needs. That means you won't be thirsty when you actually should be.


Thirst isn't the only way your body can alert you that water reserves are consistently too low. View these five warning signs of chronic mild dehydration:

1# Headache

Water (not paracetamol) is your best defence against mild headaches. Nerves endings in the brain activate pain signals in response to the excess metabolic waste and the decreased blood and oxygen flow derived by chronic mild dehydration.

Athlete Hiking

2# Bad mood and Impaired cognitive function

Research from the University of Connecticut shows that men and women have struggled with mental tasks and memory when dehydrated. Subject groups also underwent increased tension, fatigue, and anxiety, with symptoms substantially greater in females than males, both at rest and during exercise.

3# Allergies

Experts apprise that mild dehydration can cause a concentration in histamine levels and immune system deficiencies, which often manifest as allergy symptoms.

Athlete Sneezing
Athlete with Panorama on the background

4# Digestive problems. 

Water is an indispensable part of the digestive system. Specialists agree that acid reflux and constipation can be caused by dehydration.

5# Food desires, especially Snacks

Your body can sometimes misinterpret its own signals. Thirst signals, especially those consistently ignored, can show up as food cravings - in particular for sweet or salty snacks.

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Sufficient daily hydration will help you stay strong and healthy before, during, and after exercise. The goal should be 13,7 cl of water per 450 g of body weight, in addition to the average half a litre per hour you should drink during exercise.  Coffee and tea can also be part of your daily fluid intake, but the vast majority of it should come from pure, clean water. For a full electrolytic and mineral top-up, take a look at our Hammer Sports Drinks!

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Johnny Danna 27 November, 2021
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