Too much of anything can be a bad thing—yes, even too much water.
Despite warnings from doctors, trainers, and even your mother, we never seem to avoid overindulgences. We still continue to regret over partying all night the next morning. You may think at times you’re grinding, but being overworked can lead to a host of issues, including depression. Hell, you may think you’re making gains at the gym each day, but overtraining will eventually hit you hard in the form of fatigue, injury, or an actual decrease in performance.
But how many warnings have we each had when it comes to overhydrating? It’s usually the opposite—people usually tell us to drink plenty of water and fluids, causing most people to have a water bottle by our side at all times of the day.
But overhydration is real and can be just as dangerous as dehydration. According to the Mayo Clinic, too much fluid intake can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, in which the body’s sodium levels become extremely diluted, leading to a range of mild- to life-threatening health issues due to the swelling of cells.
Hyponatremia occurs when the sodium in your blood falls below 135 mEq/L, according to the Mayo Clinic. When this happens your body’s nerves and muscles can be affected, as could the fluid balance in your body. It can also lead to heart, kidney, and liver problems.
People training in cool environments—such as those bike riding on a windy day or someone doing HIIT in a well-air conditioned room—are more susceptible to over hydration than those who might be working out in hot conditions.
Water makes up roughly 60% of the human body, so obviously it’s a lifeline for the human body. For starters, it helps flush body waste, regulates body temperature, and maintains blood pressure and the more you train, the more water you need.
A recommendation for athletes from The American College of Sports Medicine recommends suggest about 20 ounces before exercise, 10 ounces every 15 minutes of exercise—40 ounces for an hour-long workout—and then end with 32 ounces.
If you’re a fan of Northern Chill Alkaline Water, that comes out to about a six pack a day as a good starting point.
Recovery can simply mean cutting back on fluids, other times it could require IV treatment of electrolytes and medications. For those, however, with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, the ACSM advises seeking a registered dietitian for a hydration plan.
But instead of letting it get to that point, know early if you’re falling prey to avoid developing any severe problems.
MAKE SURE URINE THE RIGHT ZONE
In 2014, two high school football players died from overhydration. A Mississippi high school football player died from a severe loss of sodium. Two weeks before that, a Georgia high school player died after reportedly drinking two gallons of water and two gallons of Gatorade after football practice to prevent muscle cramps.
The symptoms of both dehydration and overhydration are similar: light-headedness, dizziness, fatigue, imbalance, and nausea. Untreated, overhydration can lead to cramping, seizures, unconsciousness, and worst-case scenario, death.
But knowing whether you are indeed, taking in too much fluids can be as simple as a basic bathroom check.
Color matters. Darker urine may often represent the beginnings of dehydration, the opposite holds true when it comes to detecting overhydration as a colorless urine can be the first indicator that you’ve got too much fluids in your system.
For optimal hydration, you should seek a lightish, almost lemonade-yellow color in your urine.