This article is not for the easily disgusted; I am going to talk about urine. And I am not just going to mention it in passing, either; there is going to be discussion of its color and the subsequent meaning. Have you ever gone to pee on a particularly warm day and been a little shocked at the color you see when you look down? No? Well, get used to the idea of having an intimate relationship with the yellow stuff, because it’s the key to knowing your hydration levels, which are pretty imperative to that life goal of survival. What it all boils down to is the following; really light and really dark colors equal bad. Drinking water during physical activity is essential, but as your mama always says, too much of a good thing is, in fact, a bad thing. Drinking more than two cups of water an hour overhydrates your body, causing its salt levels to become diluted. This causes hyponatremia, which can lead to dizziness, confusion, and brain swelling, things you don’t really want to deal with after a hard practice, run, or game. Should your pee be the happy color of summertime lemonade, you are doing what you should. If it’s almost as clear as the water you have been chugging consecutively for the past four hours, put down the Nalgene for a while so your brain doesn’t swell and start to look like one of those weird anatomy experiments the Hopkins kids do.
The myth goes that by the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated, but this is not true. Thirst is a normal regulative mechanism in the body; most people’s bodies tell them when and how much water to drink. Drinking too little water can lead to dehydration, a symptom of which is very dark urine. Be wary, too, if your pee is close to the color of coffee, tea, or cola- this means you are pretty dehydrated and should probably drink water unless you enjoy fainting.
Ignore all the sports drinks and Vitamin waters for activity under an hour; your body doesn’t need the extra electrolytes and your Gopher bucks will appreciate your frugality. Just drink some water throughout the day, with more at and after the gym, and you won’t have to meet your significant other in the EMT truck as your unbalanced body is being rushed to the dodgy side of the Johns Hopkins ER unit.