What does it mean to stay hydrated? Hydration is something that is super important for your body. A basic way to understand hydration is getting your body enough water and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium) to optimize all body functions and prevent cramping.
If you take your body weight in kilograms, that is approximately the MINIMUM amount of fluid ounces of water you need each day. I personally weigh around 83 kgs. That means I need nearly 3 liters of water each day just to help my body feel best! That is not even including exercise. For each hour of exercise you do, increase your water needs by 1 liter or 32 fluid ounces.
You may or may not know that some drinks are great for hydration, but others are not. Many drinks contain caffeine or other ingredients that acts as a diuretic, which means it makes you lose fluids and dehydrates you. Here's a quick list of drinks that can have this effect:
Green and black tea
Soft drinks such as Pepsi, Coke, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, etc
These drinks fight against your hydration. Even if you drink the right number of fluid ounces that you need, you may not keep that if you have these drinks also, requiring you to drink more.
When we are feeling dehydrated, we can easily want to just grab an electrolyte drink like Gatorade or something. These drinks can actually do more harm than good. They give you some water and electrolytes but also more sugar than you find in a can of Coke. That's not good! If you need some electrolytes, I would recommend buying some oral rehydration salts that can be bought in small packets from the store or pharmacy.
Aside from this, drink lots of good old fashioned water and get electrolytes from food by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables at each meal and season your food with a little salt.
You may find that you don't need those caffeinated beverages to keep going because your body is well hydrated and feeling good!