As you already know, the secret to getting six-pack abs is maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. However, many people get confused about what they should drink while following an ab-focussed fitness regimen. So, can you drink water after an abs workout?
After abs workouts, you must drink water. It is essential to drink enough water to replenish the fluids lost in the body after your vigorous abs workout. If you’re working out for more than an hour, you may even want to drink something that contains carbohydrates.
A prevailing myth has set a narrative on the Internet that drinking water before, after, or during an ab workout is a bad idea, but it is nothing more than a myth. If anything, drinking water is a critical part of your workout, and failing to do so can lead to dehydration. So, if you’d like to find out more about why you should be drinking water after your abs workout, keep reading.
Does Drinking Water After An Abs Workout Have Any Effects?
As is the case with a lot of misinformation, claims that drinking water after an abs workout has been propagated online, despite having no validity whatsoever. And you must know why this is incorrect and understand the effect that water has on your body.
There is no scientific backing for the belief that we should not drink water after a vigorous abs workout. While you’re exercising, the body loses fluids through sweating, which leads to dehydration.
Therefore, replenishing the lost fluids in your body is imperative. However, drinking ice water after a workout can create digestive issues. This is because your body temperature has been raised during the workout, and you will struggle to absorb the ice water, which can shock your internal organs, causing chronic pain.
The misconception that drinking water after abs workouts is bad for you is grounded in a misunderstanding of the effects of ice water on a warm body or confusion over water retention.
What Causes Water Retention?
You’ve been counting your calories, you’ve been hitting the gym, you’ve fixed your diet, and you’re taking every supplement under the sun… but you’re still not losing weight! So, what’s going wrong?
If you’ve exhausted every option available but are short of reasons to describe your weight loss plateau, one of the less likely explanations is that you have a water retention problem.
The concept of water retention should not be conflated with the medical condition, Edema, which is something you should seek urgent medical advice for if you’re experiencing any symptoms.
The water retention that you are concerned with is purely an aesthetic issue. It’s the phenomenon causing that stubborn layer of fat that covers your abs and will just never disappear, no matter how hard you try.
Elevated cortisol levels can cause water retention, along with sodium and potassium imbalances and, ironically, not drinking enough water.
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced when we’re stressed and have low blood sugar levels. Almost every cell in your body has cortisol receptors, which means that elevated cortisol levels can lead to a wide range of issues, including your body’s ability and propensity to retain fluids.
However, elevated cortisol levels don’t commonly cause water retention, and it only occurs under abnormal conditions.
It is far more likely that your body has imbalances in its sodium or potassium levels. When you eat lots of sodium, cells will temporarily retain water to restore fluids to normal levels. Potassium also plays a crucial role in restoring fluids within your body’s cells, and lowering your intake can increase fluid retention.
Finally, dehydration causes water retention. And this is why claims that drinking after an abs workout is harmful to your progress are so preposterous. Yes, if you don’t drink water, your chances of retaining water in your cells are far higher.
If your body is deprived of water, it will do everything it can to keep hold of any and all water that it does get. Among other biochemical functions, it will produce hormones such as aldosterone and vasopressin, which increase water retention.
How Much Water Should You Drink For Abs Workouts?
So, if water is such a vital part of your workout to replenish lost fluids and decrease water retention, exactly how much should you be drinking? There is a set of rules and guidelines that you can follow to ensure you’re staying adequately hydrated during your abs workout.
Start by drinking water 15 minutes before working out and drink eight ounces (236ml) for every 20 minutes of exercise that you plan to do.
1. Check Your Sweat Rate
Check your weight before your workout and again after you’ve completed it. Then work out the difference after subtracting the weight of the water that you drank. If the value equals 2% of your total body weight, your athletic performance has been hampered.
If the difference is between three and four percent, you could be facing health risks from an elevated heart rate or body temperature. You need to drink the optimal amount of water to keep the weight changes to less than 2% of your body weight.
Another easy way to determine whether you’re taking in the right amount of water is to drink 16oz (473ml) for every pound (0.4kg) of body weight that you’ve lost. In other words, if your abs workout makes you two pounds lighter, you need to drink 32oz (946ml) of water to replenish yourself before or during your next abs workout.
3. Pee Test
The third and final way to keep track of how much water you should be drinking is to check your urine the next time you use the toilet. The darker it is, the worse. If it looks dark and brownish, rather than a light yellow, your body is dehydrated, and you need to drink more. Ideally, you want your urine to be as transparent as possible.
Other Ways To Reduce Water Retention
If water retention continues to be an issue for you, no matter how disciplined you are with keeping hydrated, there are a few lifestyle changes that you can make to reduce your cortisol levels.
Firstly, you need to cut back on exercise. It may seem strange to think that you can exercise too much. While five hours of training a week is better than one, ten hours of exercise per week isn’t necessarily better than five. With all of the stress that exercise puts on your body, there’s no surprise that your cortisol levels are elevated.
Try not to exceed four to six hours per week of weightlifting and one to two hours per week of cardio.
In addition to this, spending more time relaxing, getting more sleep, and eating more food will help reduce cortisol levels too. And sometimes, the secret to reducing cortisol levels is just to drink more water!
The misguided belief that drinking water after an abs workout is somehow bad for you or will be a barrier to progress on your mission to build a six-pack is grounded in misconceptions about how our body reacts to drinking water and how it affects our bodies on an aesthetic level.
You must stay hydrated before, during, and after an abs workout. If you are struggling to work off that final stubborn layer of fat, it could be that your sodium levels are too high or potassium levels are too low.
Alternatively, although less likely, your cortisol levels are elevated. One thing is for sure, though. There’s no way it’s because you’re drinking too much water because that would decrease water retention, not exacerbate it.