Stay properly hydrated for optimal gains
Keeping oneself properly hydrated is one of the "secrets" to maximizing the benefits you get from your workout. I'm using quotes around the word secret, since it really shouldn't be a secret - it is, to me at least, one of the BASIC RULES to be followed in daily life (irrespective of how hard, or even IF you train on a regular basis) - but amazingly enough, most folks these days forget this simple principle.
The reason behind staying properly hydrated is obvious enough. Simply put, 60-70% of your body is nothing but WATER - and this includes muscles, tendons, digestive system, everything. You are constantly losing water through dehydration, sweating (especially if you train hard) and other bodily functions - and you need to make sure you replace the water lost on a regular basis, else your body just won't function at an optimal level, regardless of how well you treat it otherwise.
Lack of water can affect you in many different ways. When it comes to training, a dehydrated person will never be able to achieve the same results as he would with proper hydration. Symptoms of dehydration include sluggishness, not being able to recover well enough from your workouts, persistent headaches and much more. The exact symptoms will vary from individual to individual, but the root cause remains the same. I cover this topic in greater detail in Fast and Furious Fitness.
Pure water is the best choice to stay well hydrated. I recommend (as most medical experts do) drinking AT LEAST 8 glasses of pure water a day. This is simple enough to do, but ou'd be surprised at how many people don't do it. And if your training hard, or are otherwise exposed to hot, humid (or other taxing) conditions, then you may need more - maybe 10 glasses of water a day as a minimum.
Other than water, green tea is something I highly recommend. When I was in China, this was an essential part of my "diet" - I NEVER started a workout without drinking green tea before. In fact, there were many days I did not get a decent meal throughout the workday (wasn't that easily accomplished apparently in the factory I worked at); and was tired and cranky when I got home - NOT the ideal way to start a tough workout immediately afterwards. But, a glass or two of green tea later, and I was raring to go - and got great results as well. Green tea has numerous health benefits which I will talk about in a later post, but for now, let's just say it's an instant and immensely healthy "pick me up" - so if your not drinking some green tea during YOUR daily routine, start doing so now.
Other forms of herbal tea are also great - jasmine tea, white tea, oolong, and black tea - but my personal favorite remains green tea. Just make sure your getting high quality green tea, preferably from China or someplace where the culture mandates drinking it on a regular basis. And always use tea leaves, as opposed to tea bags - tea bags contain crushed tea, which is bad for you.
And avoid colas, coffee, sodas, and any "soft drinks" with sugar in them. These are not good for you, dehydrate you, and have no positive benefits whatsoever - so if you must have then, have them in moderation, and make sure to drink enough water to compensate for the dehydration these will incur. Ditto for alcohol - make sure you partake in moderation, if at all.
So stay properly hydrated - and combine it with an optimal diet and regular exercise, and you'll be on the right track.