I’ll be honest. I have probably lived most of my life in a state of dehydration. Hydration was the thing that I did during intense physical exertion, but definitely not as part of a daily routine. My preference was always coffee (which I still love) and maybe a small glass of water with a meal. As a climber, I have a strange but necessary obsession with the condition of the skin on my fingers, and I have always struggled with bad skin. In the realm of climbing, “bad skin” is best defined as not being resilient against the damage that constant contact with sharp stone produces. Under regular use, “good” skin produces calluses and remains pliable, while bad skin tends to split and tear when faced with the same conditions. I was in a never-ending battle with terrible skin, always looking like I played catch with a razor after a long day in the mountains. Nothing worked. I would relentlessly sand, clip, and moisturize my hands with marginal positive effect. I had accepted that I would just have to adapt to a reality that couldn’t be altered given a combination of genetics and the fact that I was heavier than most climbers in my height range. Bad skin was just going to be something I had to deal with.
Like any climber, I was in constant pursuit of any hack that would give me the slightest performance edge. I experimented relentlessly with various training programs and nutritional supplements looking for anything that might elevate my performance. As I went down the internet rabbit hole researching weight loss (strength-to-weight ratio plays a significant role in climbing performance), I found an article about water retention. I had always limited my water intake, fearing that I was going to be carrying more weight than was necessary. But this article highlighted a grave error in nutritional judgement. My lack of water was actually doing exactly the opposite of my intent. My body had shifted into a pseudo-survival mode and was actually retaining water to balance against my reluctance to properly hydrate. The solution presented to reduce water weight was to drink more water. This sounded crazy to me, but I made the commitment to establish a new routine of hydration to see if the hypothesis was valid.
Over the next several weeks, I committed to drinking 32 ounces of water several times a day. The result has changed my life significantly. My body weight dropped from 165 to 160 pounds, which provided tangible evidence that the added hydration was positively impacting my strength-to-weight ratio via the shedding of water weight that no longer needed to be retained.
An unexpected benefit to this hydration effort was the remarkable improvement in my skin’s health. I’ve always heard people claiming hydration as a tool to reduce wrinkles, but somehow that testimonial seemed to have hidden in plain sight. I never made the connection to the terrible condition of the skin on my fingers. I can say with deep conviction that the occurrence of splits on my fingers dropped almost to zero in typical training environments. Even after chronic exposure to sharp stone, my skin has become more resilient. The improved elasticity and thickness of my skin completely altered my ability to climb harder, and for longer. Water turned out to be the most effective performance enhancer I had ever found by accident.
Even more impactful have been the positive changes I’ve experienced in both mood and mental clarity. There has been a dramatic reduction in the typical mental fog that I experienced in the morning. I feel sharper and more motivated to attack the day ahead. This dramatic improvement in cognitive health has truly elevated my performance in a sport built around complex movement, problem solving, and reaction time.
While there is no substitute for consistent water intake, Protekt will soon be launching a performance supplement called Hydrate, which provides an effective hydration solution that uses our 10:2:1 ratio of electrolytes to support efficient water absorption and replenishment of essential nutrients that are lost through perspiration. Additionally, Protekt will be launching a new BCAA supplement called Primer delivered in convenient effervescent tabs. Both Protekt Hydrate and Primer will help to make hydration simple and therefore have a multitude of benefits to include improved mental focus and endurance, reduced inflammation, and shorter recovery times. Find out what natural BCAAs coupled with increased hydration can do for you!