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How do you REALLY get hydrated?

  • There’s a lot more to hydration than drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day. What’s really important is how much of that water reaches your cells, and how your cells use it.

  • Your mitochondria use the hydrogen in water to make energy. The hydrogen in water also binds to free radicals and gets rid of them, keeping your inflammation low.

  • Use electrolytes, fiber, and better quality water to maximize your cellular hydration and improve your performance.

It’s a warm summer day and you start to feel thirsty, so you drink a glass of water. Then you drink another glass of water, only to still feel thirsty? An hour later you have a full bladder and have to pee. What’s up with that?

That’s because there’s a lot more to hydration than just water. You have probably heard the advice, “drink 8 glasses of water a day” or “half your body weight in ounces of water”. It’s not bad advice, just oversimplified. What’s really important is how much of that water actually gets into your cells, how balanced the fluids are inside and outside of your cells, and how your body uses it. H2O is the perfect solvent and that’s what makes it so important to the optimal function of our body.

If you’ve ever been dehydrated and tried to perform, you know that hydration matters for your performance. Your cells use the hydrogen molecules in water (that’s the H in H2O) to make ATP, the basic unit of energy that your cells use to run your body. Hydration keeps your energy bank account full and ready to spend.

Water is also one of the body’s best defenses against inflammation from daily life. Inflammatory free radicals from physical stress, environmental toxins, and byproducts of your body’s normal processes all have to be regulated by hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen in water deactivates free radicals and clears them from your system. Studies are showing that people who drank hydrogen-rich water saw a 39% increase in their antioxidant ability! Not the alkaline water you see in the store (because there is no way that can stay stable in a plastic bottle). It’s actual hydrogen tablets added to water immediately before you drink it so you are getting a super hydrogen boost. Why does this matter so much to get your body hydrated, because it’s not about hydrogen in your bloodstream, it’s about cellular hydration.

No conversation about hydration is complete without talking about electrolytes because they are a big part of hydration...I’m not talking about the certain sugar-filled sports drink. I’m talking about clean electrolytes. Also, believe it or not, how much fiber you eat affects your hydration, too. Let’s talk about both of them, as well as a couple other cool facts and hacks to help you hydrate better at a cellular level. First, let’s cover how you can measure hydration in your cells. The most accessible means of measuring hydration is with bioimpedance using an Inbody scanner. It sends an electrical charge through your body to measure your body fat percentage? They have a large error rate when it comes to measuring body fat and that is because of how hydrated you are when you get the scan. However, running electricity through your cells is an ideal way to test your cellular hydration. When your cells are hydrated, their membranes stay tight and organized, and they can hold and pass on an electrical charge. When your cells are dehydrated, those membranes get loose, and an electrical charge leaks and dissipates before they can pass it on. This can tell you inter and extracellular hydration, which can be valuable information about your electrolyte balance.

Now let’s talk about how to improve your hydration...your cellular hydration.


Electrolytes dissolve in water and give it the ability to conduct electricity. Water on its own doesn’t actually conduct electricity. In fact, pure distilled water can’t conduct electricity; only when you add electrolytes to water can it hold a charge. Remember how that works from highschool chemistry? Water is the perfect solvent!

A lot of your cells run on electricity, and you want plenty of electrolytes dissolved in your cellular “water” so that your cells can carry an electrical charge. For example, many of your brain cells have an ion channel that is gated by voltage. That means they only communicate with other brain cells if enough of an electrical charge is provided to stimulate them. Without enough electrolytes your cells can’t communicate via electricity with one another. This means cramping, difficulty coordinating movement, and even complete shutdown of your body.

The most important electrolytes for conduction and function are:

  • Sodium

  • Chloride

  • Potassium

  • Magnesium

  • Calcium

You want a balance of sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium to make sure your cells stay as hydrated as possible. Sodium and chloride get a bad reputation for causing high blood pressure, but It’s not having too much of them, it’s an imbalance between sodium and potassium. Balance your Na+/Cl- (salt) and potassium then you don’t have to worry about elevating your blood pressure and only eat boring, bland foods. Electrolyte drinks aren’t as efficient at improving your hydration levels as directly taking supplements and most people get plenty of sodium and chloride from table salt, so there is no need to supplement. Let’s look at the other electrolytes:

Calcium: a lot of people don’t need to take extra calcium. You can get a fair amount of it by drinking mineral water every day, eating leafy greens and with some dairy. (If your doctor told you to take extra calcium for bone health. Listen to your doctor and really pay attention to the rest of this article.)

Magnesium: Magnesium is called the relaxation mineral. I take it every day, and I suggest you do too. About 80% of people are deficient in magnesium due to diet and our depleted soil.

You want 400-800 mg of magnesium a day and you have to do your homework on the type of magnesium that is best for you. I take a supplement from Bioptimizers every evening to help with muscle recovery and relaxation.

Potassium: About 97% of people are deficient in potassium and this throws the balance of electrolytes off causing problems with blood pressure, muscle function and physical performance problems.

The cheapest and easiest way to get plenty of potassium is to buy a potassium chloride salt substitute. You can find them next to salt at most grocery stores for a couple bucks. You want 3,000-4,000 mg of potassium a day.

Start slow with both of these because too much too fast can upset your GI and cause diarrhea.

A couple sources of hydration that get overlooked are fiber and water quality.

Fiber keeps you hydrated, too. Fiber adds bulk to your food and makes food stay in your gut longer, which allows you to digest food more completley and get more nutrients out of it. Enter veggies, they are packed with fiber, as well as antioxidants, nutrients, and polyphenols that make your brain and body stronger. That’s why veggies play such an important role in your diet. Eat a variety and find the ones that make you feel your best inside and out.

Lets talk about the quality of your water because it makes a huge difference. The best way to assure you are getting quality water is by using a good filter. Filtering your water is one of the simplest ways to upgrade your biology. Stop buying bottled water and filling up the landfills. Most if not all tap water contains potent carcinogens like chlorine and chloramine, as well as fluoride that messes with your thyroid hormones. As water becomes an even more precious commodity, the infrastructure of our systems are breaking down and this means a greater and greater chance that your water contains heavy metals from corroding lead pipes. Bottom line, get a good water filter...or any kind of filter because even a $20 filter makes a huge difference in the quality of the water you put in your body.

Hydrate or die

~Coach Brant

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