You crave cookies
You might mistake needing to drink for wanting to nosh, especially after exercise. “After a strenuous session, we are not only dehydrated, but our glycogen stores are depleted,” says Kim Larson, RDN, sports dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Glycogen is a form of stored carbohydrates that our body uses as fuel; the cravings are just our bodies telling us we need more of it and is one of the signs of dehydration. “Not everyone wants sugar after exercising, but when you are tired, it’s tempting to reach for it!” says Larson. Better choices: Fruits and dairy foods deliver the quickest, most nutrient-rich carbohydrates to supply energy when glycogen stores are low; plus, many fruits and yogurt have a high water content to also help you rehydrate. You don’t have to worry about dehydration symptoms once you do start drinking enough water. Plus, drinking enough water changes your body.
Your skin does this weird “tent-ing” thing
Pinch the back of your hand and hold for a few seconds; when you let go, your skin should snap back into position pretty quickly. If it’s slow to return to normal, take that as one of the signs of dehydration. “Skin turgor—a measure of skin elasticity—begins to decrease with a fluid loss of about 5 percent, which is considered mild dehydration,” explains Chris G. Adigun, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. With more moderate or severe dehydration, the pinched-up skin will remain “tented” in place. Why else should you stay hydrated? To help you look younger. “Especially as we age, the visible appearance of the skin of the face improves with superb hydration,” adds Adigun. If you need even more motivation to stay hydrated, check out these health benefits of drinking enough water during the day.
You have a crappy workout
Dehydration reduces blood pressure and makes the heart work harder, which impacts how much you can push yourself, explains Larson. “Even a 2 to 3 percent fluid loss affects your ability to get a good workout,” she says; “and more than 5 percent dehydration decreases exercise capacity by about 30 percent.” A no-brainer way to avoid dehydration and dehydration symptoms is to aim for this much water per day.