Dehydration Symptoms: Why Dehydration Makes You Weak and Hungry (and How to Avoid It)
Did you know that dehydration has symptoms that are often misconstrued?
A dehydrated body is like a dry plant. And who wants a withered body?
We often search for ways that are new and sexy.
And forget that there is something simple, pure, and cheap that most of us also have in abundance: water!
Dehydration can quickly become an expensive mistake. Better you avoid him in the first place.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about dehydration:
- Definition: what dehydration is and how it develops.
- Impact: How dehydration affects your fitness.
- Thirst: effective protection against dehydration?
- Dehydration Symptoms: How to recognize a lack of liquid.
- Immediate measures: How much should you drink?
There is probably no easier, cheaper, and more effective way to maintain your body’s performance in every respect than drinking enough water.
What is dehydration?
You can produce a “dehydration” or “dehydration” – the terms are synonyms – relatively easily:
You give off more fluid than you take in.
While this isn’t a dangerous condition for healthy adults, it does affect your metabolism and performance.
By the way, dehydration is often mistakenly called “dehydration.”
However, this is incorrect: “dehydration” is a specific chemical reaction.
Your body is made up of about two-thirds water.
One only speaks of dehydration when the fluid loss is significant enough to impair the functioning of your metabolism.
You usually don’t feel slight dehydration in everyday life. It is only when you lose more water than you feel ill.
Key Facts: What is Dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when you lose more water than you take in. For healthy adults, mild dehydration is safe but affects your metabolism.
Dehydration affects life energy, strength, and performance.
Have you ever woken up feeling flat like you had a hangover?
Headaches, dry mouth, tiredness, and lack of strength: It’s entirely possible that you were dehydrated.
The dehydrating effect of alcohol also causes a hangover.
Are your workouts mostly powerful and effective – but some days, you can’t get the horsepower on the road?
There’s a good chance you were just dehydrated.
The symptoms of dehydration develop gradually.
As soon as you become aware of them, it’s too late: you’re dehydrated.
And if it’s not an exceptionally hot day, there’s something else:
You may not even be aware that your condition is due to a lack of water.
Maybe you think you’re overworked, bleary-eyed or your immune system is busy fighting off an infection.
Why Does Dehydration Make You Weak?
When you remove water from your blood, it becomes more viscous. So your heart has to work harder to keep your metabolism running.
This reduces the performance of your cardiovascular system:
A lack of water slows you down during cardio training and weakens you during strength training.
As dehydration increases, your core body temperature increases. Your muscles cramp more and more easily.
In extreme cases, heat stroke can even occur.
Researchers have already been able to measure how strength decreases with mild dehydration:
Losing as little as 1% of body weight water can affect performance.
For a person weighing 80 kg, that’s just 800 grams – 30 to 60 minutes of sweaty training is enough for that.
What does that mean specifically?
- In one study, researchers measured the bench press performance of subjects with mild dehydration at 1.5% of body weight. Effect: The one-repetition maximum decreases by 6%.
- Another study observed that 3% dehydration causes strength readings to drop by as much as 11%.
- Researchers also looked at endurance at about 2% body weight dehydration.
Depending on the study, the endurance performance of the subjects fell from 7% to 29%.
It becomes life-threatening if you lose more than 10% of your body weight in water.
Key Facts: How Does Dehydration Affect Your Performance?
Even slight dehydration of 1% of your body weight can reduce your performance and impair the effectiveness of your strength and endurance training.
This effect increases with increasing dehydration. A water loss of more than 10% of body weight is life-threatening.
Does thirst protect against dehydration?
Your body has an excellent mechanism that protects you from dehydration: the feeling of thirst.
However, feeling thirsty is not a good indicator of preventing dehydration.
At least not for athletes who want to get the most out of their training or competition.
If you are thirsty, you may already be dehydrated.
Your engine no longer fires on all cylinders. Come in addition:
With age, the thirst mechanism works less well.
Also, most people don’t necessarily drink in response to a feeling of thirst.
They drink in response to other stimuli. For example, when:
- there is something to eat
- they walk past the fridge or
- drinks are served during social gatherings.
It’s more effective if you’re proactive and develop a strategy that will keep you hydrated throughout the day, especially before and during a workout.
Key Facts: Is the feeling of thirst enough?
For athletes, feeling thirsty is not a good indicator of preventing dehydration. If you are thirsty, you may already be dehydrated.
The older you get, the worse the thirst mechanism works.
6 Unusual Dehydration Symptoms Everyone Should Know
The medication for dehydration is simple: drink water. However, this assumes that you recognize the dehydration symptoms in the first place.
We already got to know one symptom in the last section: If you are dehydrated, you have less strength and endurance. You often feel tired too.
What about thirst?
While thirst is a sign of dehydration, it is NOT an early warning sign.
If you’re feeling thirsty, you may already be dehydrated.
Therefore, you should also be aware of the less obvious symptoms of dehydration.
Here are the six most important.
Dehydration Symptoms #1 – Bad Breath
Your saliva has some pretty valuable properties. For example, it kills bacteria in your oral cavity.
If your body lacks water, it saves on saliva.
Excellent conditions for the bacteria in your mouth, which multiply happily. This creates bad breath.
#2 Dehydration Symptoms – Dry skin
Dry skin? Those dehydrated are often bathed in sweat – how can the skin dry out then?
With a drop in blood volume, the liquid supply to your skin also drops.
Because the sweat evaporates more poorly, as a result, both can occur at the same time: sweaty, dry skin.
#3 Dehydration Symptoms – Muscle Cramps
A lack of water increases the core body temperature and thus also the temperature in your muscles, which can react with “heat cramps.”
Heat causes muscle cramps.
The exact cause of these heat cramps is not yet known.
It is probably not the heat itself that is responsible, but the loss of electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium, or potassium resulting from sweating.
#4 Dehydration Symptoms – Freezing
Can you imagine freezing in the desert? It sounds unusual, but it can happen if you are already severely dehydrated.
Freezing from dehydration – or even fever – are alarm signals from your body.
You should never ignore them and consult a doctor if you have a fever.
#5 Dehydration Symptoms – Cravings for sweets
Some people misunderstand a feeling of thirst and interpret it as hunger. But it’s possible that dehydration can lead to cravings:
Dehydration can impede the metabolism of vital nutrients.
For example, your liver needs water to release and store glycogen and other energy sources.
If these energy sources are missing, your body reacts with cravings.
Cravings can be for anything from savory snacks to chocolate.
Most of the time, cravings for sweets arise because your body has problems accessing its glycogen reserves.
Of course, sweets don’t solve the real problem.
Fruits and vegetables that contain a lot of water are ideal in this case.
Melons, berries, tomatoes, peppers, or cucumbers contain more than 90% water.
#6 Dehydration Symptoms – Headaches
Your brain rests in a fluid sac. It acts as a shock absorber, preventing your brain from banging against your skull.
When you’re dehydrated, the water level in your head goes down, and your brain can bang against parts of your skull.
This leads to a headache.
Key Facts: 6 Unusual Dehydration Symptoms
Many symptoms of dehydration are rather unspecific and are therefore often not associated with a lack of water.
Dehydration can cause bad breath, dry skin, muscle cramps, chills, headaches, or cravings.
How to tell if you’re dehydrated
Maybe you’re unsure if muscle cramps or your craving for sweets are a sign of dehydration? No problem.
Here are three ways you can easily identify dehydration:
- The urine check: If you are well hydrated, your urine is light yellow or colorless. Yellow and orange are the “warning colors” that tell you to drink more water.
You can recognize a fluid loss of around 3% of your body weight by the yellow color of your urine. At 5% dehydration, your urine is dark yellow.
An orange usually occurs only with severe dehydration (over 5% of body weight). Note: Some medications or supplements may darken your urine.
- The skin fold check: Grab a skin fold on the back of your hand with two fingers of your other hand. Pull the skin up about 0.5-1 cm and release. The skin should return to its original shape within a few seconds.
If the skin is slow to move back, you could be dehydrated.
- The weight check: If you sweat heavily during a workout, you can check your body weight before and after the workout.
The weight difference tells you how much fluid you have lost.
For every half a kilo that the scale shows less, you should drink half a liter of water.
Key Facts: Are you dehydrated?
The color of your urine tells you how well you are hydrated.
If you sweat a lot, you can precisely compensate for the water loss by standing on the scale before and after training and drinking the weight difference in the water.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
Individual water needs can vary dramatically. Therefore, it isn’t easy to give a blanket recommendation.
Especially when you’re exercising or when it’s hot.
You can lose more than 3 liters of sweat per hour.
Therefore, the fluid requirement can be from 2 liters a day to 10 liters and more.
For adults of “average living conditions,” a moderate drinking amount of about 1.5 liters of water per day is recommended.
In addition, almost a liter of liquid is ingested through food.
However, one of the basic principles of us staying tuned is the following:
We are cautious with one-size-fits-all solutions.
This does not apply to our mindset, training, or diet. Your nutrient and calorie requirements are just as individual as your water requirements:
- Tall people need more liquid than short people.
- People in hot regions need more water than people in cold regions.
- People who move a lot need to drink more than people who mostly sit around.
- People who eat a high-protein diet should drink more water than people who eat less protein.
If you want to determine your water requirements even more precisely, you can refer to the recommendations of the US National Research Council:
Drink 1-1.5 ml of water per calorie consumed.
If you maintain an active lifestyle, you should rather orientate yourself towards the upper limit of the values in the following table.
If it’s hot or you sweat a lot, you need more.
Calorie consumption Water demand 2.000 2,0-3,0 Liter 2.500 2,5-3,7 Liter 3.000 3,0-4,5 Liter 3,500 3,5-5,2 Liter 4,000 4,0-6,0 Liter
Key Facts: How Much Water Should You Drink?
As a rule of thumb, men should drink 3-4 liters and women 2-3 liters of water a day. Following this rule, you should be reasonably well-hydrated under normal conditions.
You should drink more if you exercise or have a very active lifestyle, even more so when it’s hot.
Digression: Does drinking water help you lose weight?
To get leaner and stronger, you should drink enough – like a top athlete.
Now, of course, you could experiment: How little water can you handle before your fat metabolism stagnates?
Or you search for the optimum, with which it runs like clockwork. Maybe even better than ever.
Unfortunately, there are still no reliable statements from the scientific side as to the amount of fluid you drink at which you optimally break down fat. The fact is:
Whether you are just making up for a deficiency or are optimally cared for, it makes a difference.
It is also a fact that water can help you lose weight in many ways. Some have quite a fantastic effect.
Read more: In this article, you will learn three mechanisms by which drinking water helps you lose weight.
You’ll also learn a simple way to make drinking a habit – so you don’t have to think about it all the time and still avoid dehydration.
Dehydration symptoms – Conclusion
We, humans, are a pretty resilient species. If you are healthy, short-term dehydration is usually completely harmless.
And that’s a good thing because you can sweat out 3 liters per hour under tough conditions.
However, dehydration can be a show stopper when you want to look good in a bikini, unless you prepare for a photo shoot with targeted drainage.
Dehydration can affect your metabolism and cause symptoms such as bad breath, dry skin, headaches, or cravings.
Your training also suffers: You lift less weight and get out of breath faster.
Your fat loss can also suffer.
This can easily be avoided if you drink enough water throughout the day.
Women should allow themselves 2-3 liters of water, men 3-4 liters.
It’s best to make drinking a healthy habit, for example, with this simple 5-step strategy.
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