Proper hydration is often overlooked!
Having the correct amount of hydration before, during, and after physical activity is a crucial ingredient to staying healthy and having success in sports. Athletic performance will decline with dehydration and this is all too common!
Many athletic events do not have a lot of rest time where athletes can replenish. This makes it very important to keep water and other hydrating drinks close by for those rest periods. Just a small amount of fluid loss can impair physical performance.
Did You know the human body can produce 0.5-1.5 liters of sweat in one hour at a moderate intensity?
As the intensity of the exercise increase the perspiration also increases. During extreme intensity’s in hot environments some athletes can lose up to three liters of fluid in one hour and with every one percent of body weight lost due to fluid loss can lead to an increase the bodies temperature. If this is not monitored, especially in hot conditions, this could lead to a heat illness.
Pre-exercise hydration is essential. In an ideal situation athletes would measure their body weight before and after exercise in order to replenish any fluids lost during that exercise.
“It is recommended that an athlete consumer 16 ounces (two cups) of water two hours before exercise begins. Another 8 to 16 ounces (one to two cups) should be consumed 15 minutes prior to exercise.” (NFHS, 2011). During exercise the fluid that is lost through sweat and urine must be replenished. The goal of the athlete should be to reduce the amount of fluid lost during exercise. This will keep the body at a normalized temperature and keep it working properly – Athletes cannot rely on thirst alone.
The body uses the thirst mechanism to alert the body that it is dehydrated. Athletes should be drinking fluids often and should have an unrestricted access to them. Athletes can safely tolerate up to 48 ounces of fluids per hour. (NFHS 2011). Post workout is the time for replenishing. For every pound lost during exercise consumption of 16-20 ounces should be consumed to help replenish the body. Rehydrating fluids is not the only nutrient that should be of concern. Athletes also need to replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates as they are also lost during exercise.
Hyponatremia is not a common disorder but one to be aware of. Hyponatremia is a potentially deadly disorder that occurs from the over-consumption of fluids.
This is most commonly seen in adults following a marathon or similar event where the participants consume large amounts of water over several hours following the event where they lost a lot of fluids through significant sweating. This condition dilutes the sodium in the blood to dangerous levels and can cause the individual to become disoriented, have an altered mental status, headaches, lethargy, and even seizures. Dehydration is the most common hydration disorder that is seen. It can occur very rapidly. The color and volume of urine is the easiest way to determine the level of hydration. If the volume is of normal amount and the urine is clear or light color than that indicates well hydrated. If there is a small amount of dark urine the athlete is dehydrated and needs to replenish their fluids.
Choosing the right types of fluids are also a critical factor in keeping hydrated. There are a lot of sports drinks marketed that are designed to provide re-hydration during and after an athletic activity. Most sports drinks are a good source of electrolytes and contain six to eight percent of carbohydrates. This formula allows the body to absorb the fluids efficiently.
Athletes should stay away form energy drinks and juices. These drinks may have a higher concentration of carbohydrates that can produce a slow emptying of the stomach which may leave the athlete feeling bloated. While sports drinks do provide some added benefit, water should be the main source of fluids. (NFHS. 2011).
So before your next hard effort make sure you are putting the proper emphasis on your hydration!