BY DR. PHIL WAGNER, M.D
Anything that I put into my body, or recommend to our athletes, generally has 2 goals; build muscle and lose fat. After all, we’re not trying to be the best at exercising (hat tip Kenny Powers) so the concept of nutrition as fuel is highly overrated for power sports. For example, we already know you don’t need to “carbo-load” with pasta dinners to prepare for a football, basketball, or baseball game (see SpartaPoint 3/18/09).
But looking good, jumping high quickly, and running lightning fast for just 3 steps is something that definitely requires more muscle and less fat. So then who cares about hydrating if you play a power sport? After all, nobody sees your urine color. Well, water can actually preserve your muscle mass and help you burn fat.
A 2003 study out of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Clinical Nutrition in Basel, Switzerland looked at the effects of water on metabolism. These researchers specifically examined the effects of the hydration levels within cells, breaking the subjects up into dehydrated, normally hydrated, and well hydrated groups. The results demonstrated that the well hydrated group conserved muscle, a process called protein sparing, as well as increased lipolysis, the breakdown of fat.
We also know that water increases your ability to do more work within a workout (see Sparta Point 7/13/11) and keeps your hormone levels optimal for body composition, particularly by optimizing testosterone levels (see Sparta Point 10/27/10). So we can now add the metabolic benefits of muscle sparing and increased fat breakdown.
However, the goal remains the same; drink at least half your body weight in ounces. Or just get dehydrated; I’m sure that skinny fat physique will help you in some sport.