British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

The effects of fluid restriction on hydration status and subjective feelings in man

Susan M. Shirreffsa1 c1, Stuart J. Mersona1, Susan M. Frasera2 and David T. Archera2

a1 School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU, UK

a2 Biomedical Sciences, University Medical School, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK

Abstract

Hydration status and the effects of hypohydration have been the topic of much public and scientific debate in recent years. While many physiological responses to hypohydration have been studied extensively, the subjective responses to hypohydration have largely been ignored. The present investigation was designed to investigate the physiological responses and subjective feelings resulting from 13, 24 and 37 h of fluid restriction (FR) and to compare these with a euhydration (EU) trial of the same duration in fifteen healthy volunteers. The volunteers were nine men and six women of mean age 30 (SD 12) years and body mass 71·5 (SD 13·4) kg. Urine and blood samples were collected and subjective feelings recorded on a 100 mm verbally anchored questionnaire at intervals throughout the investigation. In the EU trial the subjects maintained their normal diet. Body mass decreased by 2·7 (SD 0·6) % at 37 h in the FR trial and did not change significantly in the EU trial. Food intake in the FR trial (n 10) provided an estimated water intake of 487 (SD 335) ml and urinary losses (n 15) amounted to 1·37 (SD 0·39) litres. This is in comparison with an estimated water intake of 3168 (SD 1167) ml and a urinary loss of 2·76 (SD 1·11) litres in the EU trial. Plasma osmolality and angiotensin II concentrations increased from 0–37 h with FR. Plasma volume decreased linearly throughout the FR trial amounting to a 6·2 (SD 5·1) % reduction by 37 h. Thirst increased from 0–13 h of FR then did not increase further (P>0·05). The subjects reported feelings of headache during the FR trial and also that their ability to concentrate and their alertness were reduced.

(Received July 23 2003)

(Revised February 23 2004)

(Accepted February 29 2004)

Correspondence:

c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Susan Shirreffs, fax +44 1509 226301, email s.shirreffs@lboro.ac.uk