How Does Proper Hydration Help with Muscle Building?

Whenever you work up a sweat, you already know how important water is for quenching your thirst. But what you might not know is how water and building muscle also go hand in hand. In this article, we’ll answer some common questions with information straight from the medical experts, including: 

  • Does water help build muscle?
  • How much water should you drink to build muscle?
  • Can drinking water help lose belly fat?
  • How important is hydration from muscle building?

On your mark, get set, drink H2O!

Why Hydration is Important When Trying to Lose Fat and Gain Muscle

Quick question: Does water help build muscle? Here's the quick answer: yes! Hydration during workouts isn't just essential for quenching thirst but also helps with other fitness goals such as losing fat, building muscle, and muscle recovery. If you’re wondering how to lose fat and gain muscle, staying hydrated is just as important as a daily fitness routine. When it comes to hydration and muscle growth, drinking water plays a key role because it supports the transport of nutrients needed for producing the building blocks of muscles such as protein and glycogen structures. Here’s exactly how water helps with muscle gain:

  • Increases Metabolism: If you're wondering how to lose fat and gain muscle, drinking water should definitely be on your to-do list. In fact, studies show that water helps with weight loss because it naturally increases metabolism and also acts as an appetite suppressant. Adding a fitness regimen into the mix will get you further across the finish line because it helps boost muscle growth along with proper hydration. As fitness expert Jeff Behar explains, muscles are made primarily of water, which is why it's the most critical nutrient in boosting muscle tone, among other benefits. "Increasing water intake will help prevent muscle cramping, improve the strength of muscle contractions and quicken muscle response," he says. 
  • Improves Digestion: Besides helping build muscle, water also benefits the digestive system, which in turn, helps the body shed fat. As fitness expert Neil "Yoda" Hill from Muscle and Fitness points out, water intake is the best way to lose fat because it causes your body to produce more urine. Consequently, the energy required for more urination means that you are burning additional calories just by drinking more water. Another factor in the ability of hydration to increase fat loss is how cold water causes thermogenesis, which forces your body to maintain its core temperature, another calorie burner. 
  • Boosts Muscle Strength: Fitness experts also point out other benefits of hydration, including more freedom of movement and the ability to flex your muscles more easily. More importantly, mild dehydration can cause your muscles to cramp due to a lack of electrolytes. Since muscles are controlled by nerves, having plenty of water and a balanced amount of electrolytes will also help with muscle strength and control, which will result in a boost in your athletic performance.

Other Benefits of Drinking Water

Staying hydrated might seem like common sense, but it’s easy to forget to drink water throughout the day. One way to stay motivated is to consider the other benefits of drinking water, along with the fitness-related improvements. Medical experts all agree: Staying hydrated is essential for all major functions in the body. 

Medical advisors from the Mayo Clinic say that one of the most important things you can do for your overall health, especially when it comes to losing fat and building muscle, is to switch out sugary sodas with good old-fashioned H2O. Soda might taste great but the results of ramping up your water intake and consuming less sugar are definitely worth it. Getting in the recommended amount of water per day will also boost brain function, reduce fatigue, prevent headaches, and improve skin health. 

How Much Water Should You Drink to Build Muscle? 

As a general guideline, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends 15.5 cups or 3.7 L for men and about 11.5 cups or 2.7 L of fluids a day for women. This amount includes all types of fluids besides water, as well as food, which accounts for 20% of your daily hydration. But when you're working out and sweating, you might need more than the average recommendation. One of the fastest ways to lose water is through the sweat glands, which is why you feel thirsty as soon as the first bit of sweat appears on your skin. 

How to Calculate Your Sweat Rate 

Calculating your sweat rate before workouts will help you determine how much fluid you're losing during workouts, allowing you to adjust your daily hydration. 

  • With your clothes off, weigh yourself. 
  • While working out, keep track of what you drink, how much, and how frequently.
  • After working out, dry off your sweat and record your weight again.
  • Get your fluid loss amount by subtracting your pre-exercise weight from your post-exercise weight. Then add the volume of fluids that you drank to that number. 

Now that you have calculated your sweat rate, you'll have a better idea of how much hydration you need to replace the water loss caused by sweat. According to personal trainer Van Thompson, hydrating before, during, and after workouts maximizes muscle repair and growth. As he explains, "When you exercise, particularly if the exercise is intense, you might experience minor muscle injuries or tears. To fix these injuries, your body needs to synthesize protein, which is the building block of muscle." Getting plenty of hydration gives your body the essential nutrients it needs to perform these functions at optimal levels. 

Hydrate Before Your Workout 

Along with determining the optimal amount of water intake using the sweat ratio calculation, the American Council on Exercise advises drinking 17 to 20 oz of water about two or three hours before working out. Pre-hydrating will prevent symptoms of mild dehydration like muscle cramps and fatigue.  

Drink H2O While Exercising 

Fitness experts recommend drinking seven to 10 oz of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes while exercising. Steadily drinking fluids during your workout session will ensure that you never get thirsty or suffer from dehydration symptoms like dry mouth and headaches.

Hydrate Post Workout

Hydration for muscle recovery is also an important factor to consider, which is why you should drink water after working out. If your muscles are sore post-workout, that’s a good sign because it signifies muscle growth. Being a little sore means you’re on your way to nailing your fitness goals and getting into the shape you want. This is where the benefits of drinking water are the champion of health and wellness. 

Tips to Stay Hydrated

When you’re boosting water intake for muscle growth and other benefits, take your hydration to the next level in terms of fun, convenience, and motivation. 

  • Electrolyte Powder: When you sweat from high-impact exercise, you lose a good amount of water as well as electrolytes, which are essential minerals for many bodily functions. To keep your level of electrolytes balanced, fitness experts recommend adding electrolyte powder with a healthy amount of sodium, calcium, and potassium to your water. When you enhance your water with minerals, it gives you a jump start on staying hydrated and reduces the risk of mild dehydration symptoms, which include fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, headaches, and dry mouth. 
  • Natural Flavor Infusions: The cure for boring water is natural flavor infusions with fresh fruit like sliced strawberries, berries, and citrus. Not only will it boost the flavor of plain water, but it will also add a healthy dose of Vitamin C and antioxidants to your daily water intake. If you miss sodas, you can also ramp up your flavor infusions by swapping out regular water with the carbonated variety. Depending on your flavor preference, there are lots of possibilities for different fruit blends, like strawberries and cucumber, lemon and ginger, and many more. 
  • Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle: An easy and convenient way to track your daily water intake is with a stainless steel insulated water bottle from Iron Flask. For all the health-conscious fitness types with a regular workout routine, a popular stainless steel bottle is the 128 oz size, which equals one gallon. Although it might look big, it’s got a lightweight stainless steel body and sturdy handles for easy carrying and storage. It also gives you dependable hydration, thanks to a large one-gallon volume, which provides more than the recommended amount of daily water intake. If you’re doing intense workout sessions, chances are you’ll need to level up your hydration, so when you keep our bestselling 128 oz bottle close by, you won’t have to refill it as often as the smaller models. For more information on drinking 128 oz of water a day, check out our blog, “Health Benefits of Drinking a Gallon of Water a Day.

A little progress and plenty of hydration every day will equal big results, getting you even closer to the finish line in the quest for winning at your health and fitness goals.