An Athlete’s Guide to Hydration: When, What, and How Much
When it comes to sports drinks and other water-based products, there are many different brands available. Some are better than others at providing specific amounts of electrolytes. You need to make sure that your body gets all the fluids needed for optimal performance.
The best way to do this is through proper hydration. Properly hydrated athletes perform better than those who don’t get enough fluid during exercise or competition.
In order to properly hydrate yourself, you need to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, but especially before and after training sessions. If you’re not drinking enough fluids, your body will start losing water faster than it can replace it with additional fluid intake from food or beverages.
If you’re already doing a good job of getting enough fluids into your system, then you may not have any issues with dehydration. However, if you’re experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, headache, muscle cramps or nausea due to lack of fluid intake, then you’ll want to take steps to prevent further problems.
There are a few ways to know if you’re properly hydrated or not. The first is the color of your urine.
Is it a pale yellow color?
If so, then you’re most likely properly hydrated. If it’s any darker than that, then you need to drink more fluids. You can also check the elasticity of your skin. Skin that’s taut and firm is an indication that you’re properly hydrated. If your skin is loose and sagging, you need to drink more fluids.
The last way to know if you’re properly hydrated is by weighing yourself before and after a training session. If your weight hasn’t changed at all, then you’re hydrated enough. If your weight is up a pound or two, you need to drink more during your next training session.
If your weight is up three pounds or more, you need to see a physician immediately.
Remember, staying properly hydrated is just as important as eating the right foods and getting enough rest during your training sessions. Your performance will suffer greatly if you’re not properly hydrated.
Why Should I Care About Hydration?
Getting enough hydration is vital for anyone who is physically active on a regular basis. During exercise, your body sweats in order to cool itself off. If you don’t replenish the fluids that are lost through this process, your body will not be able to perform at peak levels. You may also experience dizziness, weakness and nausea without proper hydration.
In addition to preventing these problems, proper hydration can help you get the most out of your workouts. Studies have shown that people who are well-hydrated can run faster and longer than those who aren’t properly hydrated before a given activity.
Drinking enough fluids can also help you get a better night’s sleep. Many people have problems falling asleep or staying asleep during the night. By drinking enough water before going to bed, you’re more likely to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, which means more rest for your body.
How Can I Tell If My Hydration Needs Are Being Met?
As mentioned above, there are several ways to tell if you’re properly hydrated. The first is to look at the color of your urine. You should be peeing a moderate color – not jet black or very light in color. Next you can check the firmness of your skin.
Are your arms and legs firm and free of sagging or wrinkles?
If so, then you’re hydrated.
The last way is to weigh yourself before and after a training session. If your weight doesn’t change at all, then you’re properly hydrated. If your weight is up a pound or two, then you need to drink more during your next training session.
If your weight is up three pounds or more, then you need to see a physician immediately – this may be a sign of dehydration.
How Much Should I Drink?
There is no concrete answer to this question. Everyone is different and everyone sweats at a different rate. However, it is recommended that an average person should drink 10-12 eight ounce glasses of water each day. Each glass should also contain about three to four ice cubes for maximum effect.
There are several factors that go into the equation when deciding how much to drink. Some of these factors include weather conditions, weight, age and activity level. For example, someone who is exercising in hot conditions will lose more fluids through sweat than someone who is exercising in cool conditions.
It also stands to reason that a person who weighs 200 pounds will lose fluids at a different rate than someone who weighs 150 pounds.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know?
Yes! It is vital that you do not over-hydrate yourself. Drinking excessive amounts of water can be just as dangerous as not drinking any at all. Over-hydration can lead to something called water intoxication, which can cause your brain to swell and may lead to death.
If you do over-hydrate yourself, simply drink less water and eat salty foods for a couple days. This will cause you to retain the water in your body and help you get your electrolytes back in balance. If you start to feel sick or experience a racing heart, stop drinking fluids immediately and seek medical attention immediately.
Remember, it’s all about balance. You want to stay hydrated without going overboard.
This concludes your lesson on hydration. If you have any questions, please post them in the comment section.
Want to learn more?
Then try taking one of our physical training courses!
Sources & references used in this article:
An Athlete’s Guide to Hydration: When, What, and How Much by S Kidd – breakingmuscle.com
Assessing hydration status by SA Kavouras – Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic …, 2002 – journals.lww.com
Hydration in the pediatric athlete—how to guide your patients by MF Bergeron – Current Sports Medicine Reports, 2015 – journals.lww.com
Measured and perceived indices of fluid balance in professional athletes. The use and impact of hydration assessment strategies by TD Love, DF Baker, P Healey… – European journal of sport …, 2018 – Taylor & Francis
Hydration in soccer: a review by CR Monteiro, I Guerra, TL Barros – Revista Brasileira de Medicina do …, 2003 – SciELO Brasil
Hydration status measurement by radio frequency absorptiometry in young athletes—a new method and preliminary results by DS Moran, Y Heled, M Margaliot, Y Shani… – Physiological …, 2003 – iopscience.iop.org
Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration by E Jéquier, F Constant – European journal of clinical nutrition, 2010 – nature.com
A multidimensional approach to enhancing recovery by I Jeffreys – Strength and Conditioning Journal, 2005 – search.proquest.com
Systemic hydration: relating science to clinical practice in vocal health by NA Hartley, SL Thibeault – Journal of Voice, 2014 – Elsevier