The Power of Hydration - In conversation with Dr Folusha

Dr Folusha

Dr Folusha is a General Practitioner for the NHS, a personal trainer, and cofounder of Mahaah, a holistic wellness clinic. She does strength training and has enjoyed the positive impact this style of training has had on her physical and mental health. A typical training week for Folusha consists of three weightlifting sessions, usually lower body focused, one cardio session, usually a HIIT style class, and one yoga class for active recovery.

We sat down with Dr Folusha and learnt about how she manages her own hydration around training and her strategies. The following seven tips are based on those that train in a gym for 60-90 minute sessions.

01 - If training in the morning, start drinking water as soon as you wake up to enter your session hydrated.

In the morning - if you’re training first thing in the morning you will be more dehydrated, as are training fasted. Start drinking water as soon as you wake up and before you go to the gym. Then during your training session drink regularly. 

Rest of the day - as long as you drink regularly throughout the day you don’t need to worry too much about entering your session hydrated. 

02 - Drinking water and eating a healthy diet will replace the salts lost in your sweat from training.

After a training session you will have sweated and therefore lost electrolytes, sodium being the main one. It is important to replace these salts. If you’re doing gym sessions under 90 minutes, tap water and a healthy diet will be perfectly adequate to replace the electrolytes lost. If you are doing long endurance training, such as long distance running, you may want to drink sports drinks throughout your training to replace your salts.

03 - Look at your urine to see how hydrated you are - you want a pale, yellow colour and passing four to six times a day.

Look at the colour of your urine. Urine concentration will reflect how hydrated you are - darker yellow, not hydrated enough and pale yellow, high levels of hydration. You also want to be passing urine regularly throughout the day, around 4-10 times a day. 

04 - Don’t be fooled by alcohol, it takes water out of your body and doesn’t count as fluids.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it will make you pee more often and will be pale in colour. This may look like you’re hydrated, but you're not. It stimulates you to produce more urine so you will lose the water in your body and the next day will be very dehydrated. A tip would be to drink water while drinking alcohol, to counterbalance the dehydrating effect it has.

05 - Two litres a day is a very general guideline, so it’s best to calculate a benchmark for you and ensure you drink more if training. 

General guidance for daily water intake: 0.033 litres of water X weight in kg

This is a great baseline, but if you are training you need to drink more than this. Hydration will fluctuate throughout the day so it’s better to be intuitive and take note of how much you are going to the toilet.

06 - If you don’t like drinking water then there are plenty of ways to help you get enough fluids in, from flavouring water through to the foods you eat.

  • Get yourself a nice bottle that you can use to track how much you’re drinking, and motivate you to drink.

  • Add natural flavour to your water - Folusha likes rosemary, thyme or lemon.

  • Tea and coffee count as your water intake. Although coffee is a diuretic, unless drinking a high concentration of coffee the water will counteract the diuretic effect.

  • Soft drinks, fruit juices etc will contribute to your water intake but think about what else is in them. Drink these occasionally but they shouldn’t be your main source of fluids.

  • Eat fluid rich foods to help water intake. Fruit and vegetables are great for this, especially cucumber which is 96% water. You could also cook food with more fluid such as stews or soups.

  • Using an app to tick off the glasses of water you are drinking throughout the day can help encourage you and keep you accountable. 

07 - Hormonal fluctuations from your menstrual cycle won’t dramatically impact your hydration, but dehydration will exacerbate certain hormonal symptoms making you feel worse and impacting your performance.

In general your menstrual cycle won’t dramatically impact your hydration. However there are ways that dehydration can exacerbate hormonal symptoms.

  1. If you suffer from PMS symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue, in the luteal phase being dehydrated will make these much worse. So it’s important to drink plenty of water during this phases if you know you get those types of symptoms.

  2. If you have heavier, more painful periods, and are prone to anemia and low blood pressure, then if dehydrated your training performance might suffer and you may feel worse afterwards.

Follow Dr Folusha’s journey hereLearn more about Mahaah and follow them on Instagram.