Have you ever thought about how water is the most overlooked nutrient of them all in the world of bodybuilding?
We spend a lot of time discussing protein, testosterone, fats and carbs, but we rarely think about water, the major constituent of the muscles, making up for 75% of the tissue. Reading this article will provide you with new insight on the importance of water in the building of muscles, they way it promotes better quality of your training, and how much of it you should consume to improve your looks, vitality and definition.
Good hydration is the key for a good muscle pump
A good muscle pump is a reflection of the effectiveness of the training and muscle growth. Therefore, in order to gain more muscle, bodybuilders require proper weight training, and the most effective way to do this is to train correctly with the right energy intake. And very important part of the process of training is the increase of blood circulation, which supplies the active muscles with oxygen and vital nutrients, at the same time removing the waste products like lactic acid and carbon dioxide.
So when you train with weight, for example, a lot of blood is pumped into the muscles, resulting in this tense feeling called the pump. The muscles need an immediately available energy source, like adenosine phosphate, creatine and glycogen – three crucial nutrients already stored in the muscle cells.
During the process of breaking down glycogen, which is essentially carbs stored in the body, the body produces lactate and pyruvate, osmotically active compounds which in turn influence the growth of muscle cells.
This means that water from the blood enters the muscles and makes them full and pumped. In other words, the pressure inside the muscle fiber increases, thus adapting to the process of growth. Other osmolytes, i.e. substances that affect cell pressure, are creatine, betaine, taurine, glutamine and glycine, all of which strongly support the muscle-building process.
Water maintains your energy levels
Dehydration negatively influences the athletic performance, especially when it comes to high-intensity interval training like running, swimming and cycling. Having a loss of water thickens the blood, thereby limiting the transportation of vital gases throughout the body, i.e. the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and the transport of carbon oxide from the muscles to the lungs. And when it comes to endurance, a good and steady supply of oxygen is crucial. On the other hand, the quality of performance depends on the supply of fat as well.
When your body lacks water and your blood flows slower, a red-flag signal is sent to the fat cells telling them to slow down the process of releasing free fatty acids from the fat cells, also known as lipolysis. Of course, this means less energy for the muscles, thus reducing the overall performance – but does it apply to your gym workouts, too?
Since lifting weights is an anaerobic activity which uses energy derived from the glycogen that’s already present in the muscle tissue, it shouldn’t be dependent on the supply of oxygen and fat, right? Wrong, according to some new studies which claim that anaerobic performance is also influenced by the level of hydration. Although we don’t know the exact reasons and mechanisms responsible for this process, it’s safe to say that dehydration simply weakens your performance. And to build more muscle you’ll need both strength and endurance.
How Much Is Enough?
Did you know you could actually die from drinking too much water?
True, that happens very rarely, but you should have in mind that drinking too much water will cause you to lose vital nutrients from your body (think potassium), even reducing the concentration of minerals in your blood so much that your heart can experience difficulties contracting.
Not to mention the constant need to use the bathroom. In normal weather conditions, it’s ideal to drink about 85 ounces of plain water daily (you shouldn’t use other kinds of drinks as substitutes, especially if they’re full of sugar and artificial additives), spread out as even as possible throughout the whole day. Still, if you need to have variety, you can consume some carbonated spring water and unsweetened tea in addition to regular water – or try naturally flavoring it by adding pieces of lime, lemon or cucumber to it.
So, to get optimal results, make sure that you don’t take it too far with hydration and aim to spread your consumption evenly over the course of the day. Even better, you can trick your appetite and eat less if you drink a tall glass of water before your meal.
Read More: How Much Water a Day Should You Drink
Water can help you burn more calories
As mentioned above, the water influences the viscosity of the blood and the process of burning fat, meaning that dehydration will affect the quality of your workout by decreasing your energy levels and slowing down your efforts to lose body fat. If you want to achieve that muscular, lean physique, keeping your blood flow smooth and happy is really important. But water has another great attribute.
By regularly drinking water (which contains no calories!), you actually burn around 30 calories per 16 ounces. This may seem like an unimportant amount, but that it certainly has its place in the big picture of your calorie count. And how does this burning of calories happen? The biggest reason is that the body uses a lot of energy for heating of the consumed water. Another factor is the handling of the water molecules on their long travel through your body, from the intestines to the urine. Therefore, you could easily and almost effortlessly increase your daily energy expenditure by simply drinking more water!
If you want to build more muscle mass, lose fat and have enough strength and endurance for a heavy workout, remember to stay well hydrated throughout the day and enjoy the countless benefits of this precious yet underappreciated liquid.