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Hydration guide: How much water should you drink?

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advoid dehydration by keeping hydratedIf adequate fluid isn’t taken in, dehydration can happen and will happen. These are the dehydration symptoms to look out for:


  • Thirst
  • General discomfort and complaints


  • Flushed skin
  • Weariness
  • Cramps
  • Apathy


  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Decreased performance
  • Dyspnea

Why stopping dehydration is so important:

Water is the essential solvent for your bodies biochemical reactions, and with less of this, your body simply will not function as well. It makes up a huge 63% of our whole body mass (we are basically a big mess of water balloons!) and more importantly at least 80% of our muscles , kidneys and lungs are made up of water – So water is a big part of us. And we don’t just lose water through sweating either; our body is always losing water through our skin, lungs and kidneys, through sweating, urinating and respiration mainly – so this shows that it isn’t only when we are exercising that we need to optimize hydrationSo not only do we lose water throughout the day but when we are exercising, doing physical work or it is a really hot day, we need to be drinking 2-6 times more water to maintain good hydration and keep our cells happy.(5)

It’s not just how much we are drinking – it’s how we are drinking.

Staying hydrated doesn’t mean drinking a couple of liters at the end of the day or after exercise all in one go. The water ideally needs to be consumed in parts – like breaking two liters into four 500ml drinks half and hour apart.

How to monitor dehydration

Even a loss of 2% of body mass can decrease exercise performance, brain function and alertness (1,2), so it is in your best interest to monitor your bodies hydration levels and learn to know how much water intake is right for you.

There are quite a few ways to monitor your hydration but it is important that we can do ones that are easy and inexpensive (unless you are a professional athlete – then you can put some more time and money into it). The two most practical ways to monitor hydration are as follows:

1. Measure your weight loss over an exercise session

Whether this be a sport, running or a busy period of work. Measuring body mass change is a commonly used and safe way to keep an eye on your hydration but is only really useful over a period of 1-4 hours with or without exercise. Weigh yourself before and after your session and calculate the difference – you should aim to keep the change less than 1% loss of body weight.

urine analysis dehydration2. Check your urine color

This is a very easy way to determine how well hydrated you are. All you need to do is check the color of your urine when you go to the bathroom and aim to keep it a very pale yellow (#1 in the chart). If you keep your urine at number 1, then you will generally be within 1% of your baseline body-mass (well hydrated).

This is something that is great to be checked first thing in the morning to know where your hydration is at and start getting it on track.

Combining these two measures is a great one to become more in tune with your bodies hydration needs, which will ultimately mean you perform better and feel better.

So how much should you drink:

Over a normal day, where you aren’t exerting yourself physically (sweating a lot) then this is roughly how much you should aim for:

Women: 2.3 Liters per day

Men: 3 Liters per day

Note: This is not all at once!

If you are exercising then you need to drink quite a lot more:

Before exercise: To make sure you are well hydrated when it comes to exercise, you need to prepare by drinking 500-600ml 2-3 hours before exercise and then 200-300ml 10-20 minutes before exercise.

During exercise: Regularly drinking water or sports drink is key. Ideally, you need to be drinking 200ml every 15-20 minutes (this doesn’t need to be all at once!).

Following exercise: After activity you should aim to re-hydrate within two hours of finishing. Re-hydration should include water for hydration, carbohydrates for your glycogen stores and electrolytes for salt loss when sweating (this also speeds up re-hydration). The amount you need to replenish following exercise varies but you should aim to take in 150% of body weight that you have lost. For example if you have lost 1 kg then you should drink 1.5L of fluid – ideally this should be spaced over two hours.6

Note: Specific individual recommendations are calculated based on sweat rates, sport dynamics, and personal tolerance. It is important to listen to your body as everyone is different and has slightly different needs. Try keeping an eye on the measures talked about here (urine color and body weight loss) and learn what your body needs. It is also very important to not drink too much, too fast.

Lastly, the National Athletics Trainers’ Association has this to say notes that dehydration can compromise athletic performance and increase the risk of exertional heat injury and that in general athletes do not voluntarily drink enough water to prevent dehydration during physical activity.

You need to take it upon yourself to get this right – it makes a big difference to your body.

Healthy Eating

Holiday Weight Gain? Here is how to beat it…

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Christmas-Food-and-DecorationAre you worried about holiday weight gain? Well, it’s true, an incredible amount of people put on weight over the holiday period, and the ones that don’t often don’t enjoy themselves because they are scared of putting on weight… can’t win right?


Through timing your eating better and picking the right foods (plus a few little secrets I’ll share with you), you can avoid packing on the pounds and enjoy yourself while doing it!

Over Christmas we gain on average nearly 1kg of body weight – and that is just Xmas, let alone the entire holiday period…. and unfortunately on top of that a study has shown that blood pressure can increase by 8%. But enough of the stats because not only is it proven that we put on a little weight over the holiday period, but we also hugely change our diet and throw our system out of whack by eating all those treats and often consuming a little more alcohol.

 On average Australians gain 0.8-1.5kg over the Christmas period (2)

So here are PhysioPrescriptions top tips to beat the holiday weight gain:

holidays foodsEating:

  1. Avoid going to parties hungry – Otherwise you are guaranteed to gorge yourself
  2. Do not try to diet over the holiday period, just try to maintain your weight
  3. Try to eat foods that you regularly have in your diet – so that there aren’t too many big changes
  4. Yes, you can have the treats and deserts and all those other goodies, but try filling up the majority of your meal from the bottom of the food pyramid
  5. Don’t continuously snack, have a few good meals throughout the day.


Drinking alcohol can lead to food being turned into fat – and this often goes around the gut area (a risk factor for heart disease), hence the saying beer belly!

  1. Alter ante alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic
  2. Don’t binge drink
  3. Drink out of a smaller glass, drinking out a huge glass often leads to it disappearing faster…
  4. Arrive at functions well hydrated

Drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion (nutrition Australia).


  • Get involved with fun activities with family or friends – don’t just watch! Grab a tennis racquet, go for a walk or throw the pig skin around.
  • Going for a walk or any other form of exercise can increase your metabolism – meaning your body can process the food better and stores it in the right places.
  • Before you settle into relaxing and enjoying a good meal and beverage, do a bit of exercise – it will start your day off a lot better!

And remember, KEEP HYDRATED

Happy holidays

Helpful links:

Nutrition Australia

Nutrition tips for athletes from the NZ high performance team

Christmas day under 2,500 calories

Health, Healthy Eating

The Whole Carb Diet – Eat Whole, Feel Whole

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The Whole Carb Diet - More energy, lose weight and feel whole“Wow that’s healthy! Only 30 calories” – This is what I overheard a young woman saying yesterday at the supermarket and was shocked. Having less calories does not mean you are being healthy. So today I am going to outline:

  •  How much calories you should be consuming – this is very individual
  • How to eat a healthy diet
  • AND give you one dietary change that will help you improve energy levels, snack less and lose weight

Heard that a lot? Well read on and see the difference of the “Whole Carb Diet” – The lasting difference.   Minimising calories to the nth degree is not healthy – Eating smart is. Sure you can count calories and check that you don’t over-eat (Consume more that your body uses throughout the day) and it is good to have a rough idea of how much you need. The average person should consume around 2000 calories per day – but this varies a lot depending on sex, age, height, physical activity levels etc, etc. Below is a quick guide to base yours off – but remember it does vary with what you do during the day and many other things. calorie intake daily recommended   The Healthy Food Guide – Click through to this post to get a great healthy eating guide based on international recommendations and research. This should be the basis to any diet.   And finally, one change you can make right now?

The Whole Carb Diet - More energy, lose weight and feel wholeI call it the Whole Carb Diet

The rules are simple:

  1. Eat only whole – carbs
  2. Eat a well balanced diet, following this post
  3. No simple sugars

The whole idea behind this healthy lifestyle choice is allowing food to be broken down slowly over the day, so that there is no:

  • Major spikes in blood sugar levels
  • Snacking between meals
  • Excess sugar

This means you will have more energy, lose weight, and be able to go and go all day.   As the Harvard School Of Public Health state “What’s most important is the type of carbohydrate you chose to eat because some sources are healthier than others. The amount of carbohydrate in the diet – high or low – is less important than the type of carbohydrate in the diet.” Here is five easy tips for getting started on the whole carb diet:

  1. Choose whole fruit over fruit juice
  2. Choose whole grain bread over white bread
  3. Start your day with whole grains – e.g. whole grain toast, good old fashioned oats or a quinoa porridge
  4. Add beans and legumes into your diet and decrease your potato intake
  5. Try brown rice or quinoa with your meals and to replace bread at times.

For those of you that are familiar with the slow carb diet (popularised by Tim Ferris), this does have some similarities but I find it is much easier to follow, simpler with less cutting of foods you love.

The whole carb diet is effective.

NOTE: normally I don’t like using the word DIET, but let me explain what it means to me: Diet = The food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. It is not something that should last 12 weeks, 30 days or whatever the new fad is at the moment. Sure try a diet for a period of time, and if it works for you – maintain it as part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle, not a diet   To learn more about whole, un-refined grains that you could be incorporating into meals, see this link

diet, Healthy Eating

What to eat – The Healthy Food Guide

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Eating healthy is a crucial part of having a strong and injury free body. It can also change your life. Really – it lowers risk of heart disease, decreases depression, increases energy, decreases muscle tension, boosts the immune system and much, much more. In today’s post I want to bring together all the best nutritional and healthy eating guidelines to give you a clear and simple healthy food guide that will change the way you eat.

HEalthy eating for a active life and heart diseaseHere is a quick list to show why YOU should be eating healthy:

  • Decreases Cardiovascular disease risk (Leading cause of death in America)
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Increases energy
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Decreases cholesterol
  • Normalise glucose levels
  • Decrease weight

In order to give you the best, evidence based, up to date information I have combined recommendations from some of the top food guidelines around the world, including:

  • Harvard University’s healthy eating pyramid
  • Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)
  • The US Department of Agriculture’s healthy eating guidelines
  • Diet and Lifestyle recommendations form the American heart association
  • And more

Yes there a lot of guidelines out here, constantly throwing information and recommendations at you. Which is why it’s important to consolidate these and show you what they all have in common – because what all the recommendations have in common is the basis to eating healthy and having a great nutritional intake.

Your health eating guidelines:

It’s a lifestyle, not a diet

1. Vegetables

The amount of vegetables you should be eating (all the guides and recommendations were unanimous!) is 2.5 cups per day. The thing to keep in mid with this is that you should eat a variety of vegetables – different colors, shapes and flavors to get the best nutritional uptake. For example:

  • Dark green, leafy veges
  • Legumes (lentils, beans etc)
  • Starchy veges
  • Orange and red veges


2. Fruit

The amount of fruit recommended is 2-3 cups, and again you want a variety of colors here as well to really get all the antioxidants, vitamins and plenty of other goodies.


healthy eating plater - guide to eat better healthy3. Grains

You should be consuming is 6-8 oz (170-230 gm). The key to this though is that at least half of these need to be whole grains. Whole grains are better for you as they have a high glycemic index – this means that they take longer to break down, so that they are slowly releasing the fuel into your body with means less highs and lows and more steady energy.

Examples of whole grains (eat most):

  • Whole wheat
  • Brown rice, wild rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Oats/oatmeal

Examples of grains with a high glycemic index (use sparingly):

  • White rice
  • White bread
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes


4. Milk

You should be drinking 2-3 cups of milk or equivalent  per day. All of the guidelines were agreeing on this except the Harvard healthy eating pyramid. This is because of a few reasons:

  • Concern over the amount of saturated fat and calories in milk. A good way to get around this is to drink fat-free or low-fat milk – this is something that really should have caught on by now but still only 10% of all milk consumed by americans is fat-free (national health and nutrition survey 2001-02)
  • Due to the prevalence of lactose intolerance: Absolutely if you are lactose intolerant then a few things you can do: Eat more of other foods that are full of calcium (the best option), consume milk with other foods and not on an empty stomach and take calcium and vitamin D supplements.
  • Increased levels of unneeded hormones in some milk: Be carefull what milk you buy as increased levels of hormones have been associated with increased cancer risks. It is worth splashing out a little extra and buying hormone free or organic milk.


5. Meat, nuts and beans

You should be eating around 6 oz (170grams) of lean meat per day and 2-3 oz of nuts, seeds and beans per day.

Lean meats that you should be consuming is:

  • Fish, poultry and lean beef and pork

Quick note: Do not deep fry your food if you can help it! Especially fish as this changes the good fats and nutrients in it. Try to grill, bake or broil it.


6. Oils

The amount of oils you should be consuming does vary a lot in all the research. The most common amount (and a good middle ground) is 6 teaspoons (27grams) per day.

For oil you should be using liquid vegetable oils (or products made form this) so that there is less Trans fatty acids.


7. Treats

These are normally called Discretionary calories. They’re calories from outside the recommended food groups. From things like; added sugar, sweets, alcohol, solid fat etc.

This is limited to 135 calories (4 teaspoons).


8. Alcohol

If you consume alcohol, do it in moderation, the recommended amount is one drink per week.


9. Total calorie intake

The average person should consume and use 2000 calories per day but this really does vary depending on the your activity levels, sex and age.

Check out this table for a good guide:

calorie intake daily recommended

Source: My Pyramid, USDA


Body Composition is dependent on lifestyle changes, not memorizing lists, instructions or diets

Here is a handy list of tips to sum that up – easy to print out and put on the fridge!

Tips to improve your nutrition, health and general well-being:

  • Eat fish (especially oily fish) at least twice a week.
  • Consume a diet full of vegetables and fruit.
  • Choose whole grain and whole fiber foods
  • Prepare and eat smaller portions
  • Choose leans meats and veg alternatives
  • Drink fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Minimise added sugars (so no to soft drinks and energy drinks to make an awesome difference!)
  • Use vegetable oils instead of solid fats.
  • Know your caloric needs to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Grill, bake or broil your meat.
  • Follow this healthy food guide when eating out as well!


healthy eating guide - nutrition and food pyramidsConclusion:

It is important to make these changes gradually to your lifestyle to make changes THAT LAST. If you make wholesale changes where you start eating completely differently, this will for one; shock your body, and two; it will not last.

The more you take from this healthy food guide and make changes to your nutrition – the better off you will be in the long-term, and I know it is corny to say but it really will add years to your life.

We all need to make changes that will last, because life isn’t a fad and you only live once!


Please like and share with all your friends, they will thank you for it.


Scientific paper for more in-depth reading.



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