As you know, hydration isn’t just about drinking water. Your body contains a specific fluid balance that can be disturbed with either too much or too little water or electrolytes. Read on to find out what the ideal fluid balance is for your training sessions!
The key functions of water for your body:
Your body is 60% water – how amazing is that! Water is what makes up most of your bodily tissues, fluids and cells.
Water helps to:
- Distribute nutrients to cells
- Remove waste products from metabolic reactions
- Regulate body temperature
- Lubricate joints
- Support digestion
It’s not just water you have to watch – electrolytes play a key role in maintaining fluid balance.
Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Chloride
When you sweat, you increase your loss of electrolytes. To restore an optimal fluid balance, you’ll need to rehydrate with electrolytes. If you don’t, you may be at risk of dehydration and performance losses
Why you need to watch signs of dehydration:
If exercise performance is important to you, then hydration should be front of mind. When you’re lacking fluids, you’ll find you can’t train as hard or as long as you want to.
How do we define dehydration? It is considered as an exercise weight loss greater than 2%.
Can you recognise these early signs of dehydration?
- Flushed skin
- Premature fatigue
- Increased perception of effort
If you don’t correct the issue, it can lead to these (and worse!)
- Increased weakness
- Laboured breathing with exercise
- Decreased sweat rate
Are you at risk of dehydration?
What are the conditions that affect sweat rates and fluid loss during exercise?
- Exercise intensity
- Duration of activity
- Cooling ability
- Individual characteristics such as body weight, genetics, clothing, heat acclimatization
- Environmental conditions:
- Hot climates reduce the difference between your skin and air temperature, challenging the body’s ability to effectively transfer heat to the environment
- Humidity compromises sweat evaporation as the air is already saturated with water vapour, reducing evaporative heat exchange
- Extreme cold and elevation can also impact rate of sweat loss
Within 24 hours before training or your event:
Consume a nutritionally balanced diet and drink fluids.
2 hours before exercise:
Drink approximately 500ml of fluid about 2hrs before exercise.
Start drinking early and at regular intervals to consume fluids at a rate sufficient to replace all the water lost through sweat. Flavoured fluids and cool drinks can help you achieve the needed fluid consumption.
Training for longer than 1 hour? Use a combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates. It is recommended that 30-60gms of carbohydrates be consumed per hour to maintain metabolism of carbohydrates and help delay fatigue. Thereafter, consume 600-1200ml of a sports drink every hour.
Extra Tips for Meeting Your Daily Hydration Needs:
- Drink a glass of water right after you wake up.
- Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day.
- Know your sweat rate: Heavy sweaters = increased fluid needs!
- Eat fruits and vegetables (primarily made up of water)
- Set reminders to prompt you to refill your glass or water bottle throughout the day in order to stay on track with meeting your fluid needs.
Intra-Workout Recommendations (Banned Substance Tested)
Always speak to your health practitioner before undertaking a new supplement or exercise regime. Views expressed are of Optimum Nutrition.