Between the myriad of non-water beverages at our fingertips and the constant craving for a quick, cheap meal which comes with being a millennial— it seems that many of us forget to drink enough water. It's flavorless and even boring to some, but shouldn't be neglected so as to have a healthy lifestyle! According to Business Insider, "[r]esearch shows that as little as one percent dehydration negatively affects your mood, attention, memory, and motor coordination." Not only that, but "[w]hen your dehydrated body is 'pushed' — such as when exercising or faced with heat stress — the risk of exhaustion or collapse increases… [and] you [are more susceptible] to faint, for instance, when you stand up too quickly."
Although it may seem obvious that you are dehydrated if you are thirsty, those with an active lifestyle may find it more nebulous. So, in order to better avoid the risks which come from being dehydrated, here are five signs that you aren't drinking enough water:
1. Dark urine.
This is the most obvious one. Although health professionals agree that your urine should contain a bit of a yellow tint (if it doesn't, you are overhydrated), it shouldn't be darker than a "transparent yellow." Anything darker than a dark, cloudy yellow you should see a doctor for.
2. You get a lot of headaches.
When you're dehydrated, the brain, which is mostly water, shrinks and triggers the pain receptors surrounding it. Additionally, less oxygen reaches the brain since your blood volume has dropped. So, if you've had a headache for a bit, maybe drink a glass of water and see if that helps.
3. You're foggy/cloudy.
I get this one a lot. If anybody knows me, they know I'm a bit of ditz, so the last thing I need is to be even more out of focus. Because dehydration affects the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, if not only causes headaches but can impair its functioning. So, if you find yourself forgetting things too easily or taking forever to understand a concept, drink a glass of water. It may help you think better!
4. Leg cramps
This is the worst one. If you've ever had a leg cramp, you know what I'm talking about. I had my first leg cramp one especially bike-filled summer as a kid, and I remember distinctly praying to God and asking "why" amidst my crying.
When someone gets a leg cramp, their muscles tense and a sharp pain permeates their leg muscles. Not only does it hurt to move it, but often it's tensed in an uncomfortable position, causing the sufferer to move it despite the extreme pain. Most people get them at night, while lying down. So, if you find yourself waking up to your leg unbearably tensed up, drink some water.
5. Intense sugar cravings after a workout
Glycogen is an essential component for cellular respiration stored in one's tissues, especially the muscles. Its primary composition is of carbohydrates and decreases after an intense workout. They decrease even more rapidly if you don't drink enough water. Subsequently, people have reported extreme cravings for sugary snacks after working out. I've fallen prey to this myself, my weakness being sugary cereal like Frosted Mini-Wheats or Honey Bunches of Oats. So, instead of jumping on that ice cream in the freezer, have a glass of water and see how you feel after.
So, to reiterate: if you've noticed, any of these possibly foreign symptoms plague you since you've been working out, drink a glass of water to feel relief.