Most people think that the single most important ingredient for building muscle size is protein. While that is more or less true if we consider the fact that it’s essential for maintaining positive nitrogen balance, and that it makes up for approximately 20% of our muscle fibers, there is another ingredient that is almost as important.
That ingredient is water. After all, about one third of our body tissues, or roughly 75%, is made up of water. Yet, when discussing the nutrients that are involved in the muscle building process, people mostly think about fats, carbs and protein, often forgetting to take water into consideration, while it should be right there on top of the list.
In this article we are going to discuss how water helps in improving the quality of your training and the effects on your physique, giving you several pieces of advice on the best way to consume this ingredient, necessary for building your muscles.
Water Creates the Pump
We’ve all experienced the tightness of the pump, when the tension starts to settle in your worked muscle, making each following rep more difficult. The chemistry behind this is as follows: It begins by breaking down the carbohydrates stored in your body in a form of glycogen.
This process triggers the production of lactate and pyruvate, which contribute to increasing the muscles cells as a result of their osmotic activity. The consequence of their activity is the increased flow of water in your muscle cells, making them full. This is in fact a signal of the anabolic process.
All nutrients have some sort of an osmotic effect which is why they are required if you want to achieve muscle growth. This process can be also described as a pressure buildup within the muscle fibers that causes it to grow.
Creatine, which is one of the most effective muscle boosting supplements, in fact utilizes the osmotic process to achieve anabolic effect. After the loading phase with creatine you can increase your muscle mass several pounds, which is all a result of increasing the quantity of water in your muscle fibers.
Some of the other substances that effectively impact the cell pressure and work well as osmolytes are betaine, glycine, taurine and glutamine. The last two amino acids are known to trigger anabolism. Glutamine is especially recommendable as anabolic supplement, as couple of grams can also have an impact on increasing the growth hormone levels.
Water Keeps Your Strength Up
It’s a well known fact that dehydration has negative impact in endurance sports. This is no surprise as we are fully aware that one of the most important factor in endurance is the steady supply of oxygen from the lungs to your muscles.
Lack of water in your body increases the thickness and viscosity of your blood, greatly hindering the oxygen flow in your bloodstream. Because of that, even a mild dehydration can have dramatic negative effects on the performance of endurance athletes.
Another factor that determines the performance in aerobic sports is the supply of fat from our stores. When dehydration sets, your blood flows with reduced speed, increasing the chances for creating blood clots. Your body interprets this as a signal for turning on the defense mechanisms that prevent clotting. The result is slowing down the process of lipolysis, which is responsible for sending the fatty acids in the bloodstream.
This leads to slowing down the fat burning process, and reduced energy supply to your muscles. Now, having cleared the reasons for decreased performance in endurance sports as a result of dehydration, we ask if this effect is the same with anaerobic activities like weight lifting. After all, they shouldn’t be as dependent on the transfer of oxygen and fatty acids because the main energy source we need is glycogen, which is stored in the muscles.
Yet, according to the most recent studies, dehydration can reduce the strength and performances in anaerobic activities as well. Science still hasn’t been able to determine the exact mechanism that causes this, but it’s more than clear that dehydration reduces your strength, which is crucial for lifting heavy and building muscle size.
Water Helps You Get Shredded
We’ve already mentioned that lack of water in your muscles makes your blood more viscous, and slows down the fat burning process. This doesn’t impair only your athletic performances, but also reduces your chances for getting ripped. You see, the unimpaired transport of fatty acids through your bloodstream is extremely important for keeping your endurance up and your body fat percentage down.
That is why smooth blood flow is essential both for your performance and your physique. Water has yet another interesting property that helps reducing the body fat. I has been found that drinking water can boost your energy expenditure, helping you burn 20 calories per every 16 ounces of consumed water. In other words, drinking a gallon of cold water removes 160 calories from your system.
Although this number doesn’t sound like much, just have in mind that you are burning those calories without applying too much effort. And after all, every calorie counts. This calorie burning property of water is a result of its heating in the system, which requires a great amount of energy.
The other reason is the processing of water molecules in your body as they pass through your digestive system that delivers it to the liver, from where it goes into your blood stream that transfers it to the cells and to your kidneys before it is finally excreted. Drinking water before you eat also increases your satiety, making you feel fuller and consume less food.
Just 10 ounces of water before meal can reduce your calorie intake by 10 percent. Because of all that, it becomes clear that water can make a huge difference between being lean and ripped, or just average. After explaining the effects of water on your muscle building process only one question remains unanswered. How much water should we drink?
Recommended Water Intake
If you though that the answer to this question is: “as much as you can”, than you’ve got it wrong. Seriously! Although many people think that there is no risk in over-drinking water, this is far from true. Drinking too much water can lead to water intoxication, which is a fatal condition.
This problem usually hits marathon runners and is rarely discussed in the media because of fear that learning about the potential risk of overdosing with water does little good for promoting this otherwise healthy habit among the average people. However, in the world of fitness the quest for lean muscles mass has been elevated to an obsession.
As a matter of fact, drinking too much water increases the risk of depleting your body of some crucial minerals (potassium and sodium) weakening the heart muscle contraction.
Optimally, you need to consume at least 85 ounces of water every day. Try spreading out this quantity throughout the whole day. This quantity should be increased when it is hot, or you are engaged in activities that make you sweat a lot. When it comes to the source of your consumed liquids, nothing is better than plain water.
Other beverages (like soda) may contain ingredients that are detrimental for your health. If you find plain water blunt, you can substitute it with carbonated water or ice tea without sugar. You can improve its flavor by adding natural ingredients that contain little to now calories. Cucumbers, lemon, watermelon, mint are all good choices.