The best thing about the tips I am about to give on how to stay hydrated on the road is the simple rule fliers should abide by when it comes to all things flying. Keep It Simple. In our quest for better energy, performance and health through hydration, habits, supplementation and planning all play their part. Keeping it simple when so much is out of your control on the road really is the best policy.
To underline the importance of hydration as a tool to boost productivity and performance I would like to remind you of an example from the sports arena, lest we forget frequent flying is an endurance sport! At the London 2012 Olympics, in the men’s 20km walk, the defending champion Valeriy Borchin collapsed due to exhaustion. In sports exhaustion, endurance and dehydration go hand in hand. Our professional sports are littered with athletes suffering from dehydration resulting in poor performances.
Away from the sports arena a recent high profile case of dehydration was that of General David Petraeus head of US Command in Iraq. General Petraeus collapsed during questioning in front of a US Senate hearing having flown in from Afghanistan.Everywhere you look the facts are the same, dehydration impairs performance, it is the same for frequent fliers. One peak performance site states that
“even low levels of dehydration have physiological consequences. A loss of 2% bodyweight (just 1kg for a 50kg person) causes an increase in perceived effort and is claimed to reduce performance by 10-20% A fluid loss exceeding 3-5% bodyweight reduces aerobic exercise performance noticeably and impairs reaction time, judgement, concentration and decision making”
These are not traits conducive to business success on the road in an ever changing environment.
The 3 simple tips I would offer to all frequent fliers are
1) Habits to cultivate and habits to avoid
2) Supplementation options to consider
3) Planning for the road and home.
Habits to cultivate are easy, drink more water. To get used to this do it at regular intervals. First thing in the morning, half hour before each meal and an hour before bed. If it really is a push to remember you can find apps for your smartphone to remind you. You could even set it up to remind you to drink water while in-flight.
Get into the habit of asking the flight attendants to fill up your water bottle for you. The best time to do this is not when they are serving you and everyone else drinks, they will worry they might run out and have to make unnecessary trips to the galley in the middle of serving you. Wait till they are in the galley next to all that water that doesn’t get used and ask them then, they will have no reason to refuse you. If you feel galleys are no-go areas spot your friendly flight attendant in advance and make a beeline for them if the galley seems unwelcoming.
Habits to avoid may require a bit of willpower but if you structure them well with a reward in the future they won’t be hard to maintain. Stop drinking dehydrating liquids on the plane and limit them in your diet in general. That includes wine tea coffee and soft drinks. Limit salty foods as well because getting rid of excess salt pulls water from the body in the process.
Supplementation options, I use the word supplementation loosely and specifically. There are specific healthy supplements on the market that have a track record of helping keep the body hydrated because of their abundance of Hydrogen ions. In keeping with this line of thought any food which has a lot of hydrogen in it is also useful. Of the three main food groups carbohydrates fit that bill with a basic chemical formula of (CHO). In practice this means that high protein or high fat and low carb diets are not great for hydration. If you do use these diets be sure to over compensate with your water consumption.
Planning for the road and at home. Always carry a water bottle with you and remember to sip from it regularly. If you are in a fancy hotel charging you $7.50 for bottled water in the room see if there is a gym in the hotel, water is usually free from the fountains in gyms.
At home you can do as little or as much as you like. Get a carbon filter jug to remove impurities from your mains tap water, source your water from a fresh water stream, install a total home plumbed- in solution or buy drinking water in bulk on discount.
In closing as simple as it is the benefits of hydration are many for fliers in terms of health and performance and should not be overlooked by anyone who wants to be at their best while away on business travel.
General Petraeus Senate Hearing – http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2d040c42-789a-11df-a312-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2MRrWAmY3