As we all know, your body depends on water to survive. It's so amazing that every, single cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to function properly. Without water, our bodies couldn't live or do our daily tasks. Water is so important for our body to maintain temperature, remove waste and even lubricate our joints!
Even though most people know in order to stay fit, healthy and live a healthy lifestyle, it's also good to know the importance of proper hydration. Hydration helps you feel at your best whether you are an athlete, or just running around doing errands.
IF we happen to not drink enough water on a busy day, it can lead to dehydration. The effects of dehydration for anyone can be uncomfortable at best — at worst; they can be dangerous. Anyone can suffer from dehydration, and it's even worse for athletes and if the effects are serious and can lead to hospitalization.
Regardless if you are a weekend sports warrior, marathon runner, involved in adult recreational sports, or participate in a serious league, good hydration and nutrition is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
Sometimes, staying hydrated isn't just as easy as drinking water. Although water is important, but if your an athlete, it's so important to be able to understand why staying hydrated can effect your performance. Let's explore more....
Why Is Staying Hydrated So Important?
I don't know about you, but when I exercise or even go for run, I have my water bottle with me at all times. I like to use the Iron Flask Sports Water Bottle. I like this one because It keeps your drink COLD for up to 24 hours. It will never leave a metal taste or rust. I usually attach it to my Hydration Belt. I like to use this belt because it does NOT bounce and it's easy one handy access. It's really perfect for races requiring lightweight and speed. Evenly distributes the weight of your belongings for a bounce-free ride while you run, hike, marathon, or bike. You can also shop for a good hydration backpack on Amazon.
Since hydration is important for all athletes, I can't stress enough how getting enough fluids before and after competition is so important. So, what does proper hydration do for your body? - Here's a few benefits of proper hydration:
Hydrating helps regulate body temperature and lubricate joints. It also helps transport nutrients through the body and waste out.
Transportation of nutrients / elimination of waste products.
Lubricating joints and tissues.
Temperature regulation through sweating.
First line of defense in immune system function – mucus production.
When exercising, or doing any kind of physical activity, adequate fluid intake for athletes is essential to comfort, performance and safety. And, remember, the longer and more intensely you exercise, the more important it is to drink the right kind of fluids. I've been at the gym and seen others who are lifting weights and running without any water next to them - this can only lead to disaster.
The longer you exercise, and the harder you push yourself to move, the more important it is to drink the right kind and amount of fluids.
Any athlete who becomes dehydrated during competition or training is at risk for cramps, dizziness, fatigue and other types of heat illness, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
It's so important to know that heat illness is 100% preventable.
The Effects on Dehydration and Your Workouts
Let's talk about dehydration now. I'm sure everyone is familiar with dehydration. But, did you know, even in a state of mild dehydration, cells throughout the body — from the brain to muscles — cannot function properly? Yes! Your body is so sensitive to the amount of water that it needs to maintain homeostasis. In a mild form of dehydration, the blood begins to thicken slightly, making it more difficult for the heart to get oxygen-rich blood to those cells.
As the body's cells lose fluids, they also lose electrolytes — minerals/salts that aid in healthy cell signaling and function. When you exercise or do any kind of intense physical activity, your cells excrete sodium, chloride and then potassium in the greatest quantities, largely through sweat.
When you have an electrolyte imbalance, it can exacerbate the effects of fluid losses in athletes, not only inhibiting performance and making a given workload feel much more difficult. This also raises your heart rate, core temperature and increases your risk of a heatstroke. When you develop good hydration habits, you keep your body functioning well and perform at it's highest.
How Much Water For Proper Hydration?
I feel like this is such an important question. I get asked this question oh so many times as a trainer. What's important to remember is that water intake will depend on your level of activity for the day.
But, it's important to get a general idea of how much water you should be drinking a day when you are not exercising - that should be your baseline.
According to some research, it's recommended that an average man needs around 3.7 liters a day and an average women needs around 2.7 liters a day. You can get this by consuming both water and food with water.
There is one thing to take into consideration - these numbers are averages and don't take into consideration other factors such as environmental, personal differences or medical needs. Of course these numbers are averages, and don't account for personal differences or environmental factors. But they should be the baseline levels of water consumption.
When calculating your specific water needs, you can also use the pee test and the pre- and post-workout weigh-ins to get a good idea of how much additional water you should be drinking.
When to Hydrate
I'm not going to lie, it might be difficult to determine a strict set of water intake. But it can be even more challenging to determine if you're drinking enough fluids based on your fitness routine.
There are a few things that you do to determine if you are getting the proper hydration: using a combination of the pee test and exercise weigh-ins, you can get a pretty good feel for the amounts of fluid you should be consuming before, during, and after exercise.
You should also make sure you get proper hydration during summer or a strenuous workout.
Here are some additional guidelines on when and how to hydrate:
Pre-Hydration Before Exercise
As a Personal Trainer, I would recommend that athletes should start drinking small amounts of water at least 4 hours before a bout of exercise with the goal of becoming hydrated, before exercise begins. I personally can tell the difference if I haven't drank any water before exercise than when I try to exercise intensely when I'm not hydrated. I feel worn down, sluggish and just plain awful.
When you make sure you get proper hydration before running or a good workout, I might recommend that you drink between 5 to 7 milliliters per kilogram of weight. If you are dehydrated, you may need another 3 to 5 milliliters per kilogram of weight two hours prior to the event.
If you are researching to topic of hydration, it's also important to note that there are a few different recommendations out there. For example, the ISSN offers slightly more specific recommendations, suggesting that athletes consume 500 milliliters of water or sports drink the night before a competition, 500 milliliters upon waking, and another 400 to 600 milliliters roughly 30 minutes before exercise commences.
This, along with a normal eating schedule, should help you achieve optimal pre-exercise hydration.
If I know that I am going for an intense exercise, or if I am feeling a bit dehydrated, I use Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier. Hydration Multiplier is a great-tasting, non-GMO electrolyte drink mix powered by CTT to deliver hydration to the bloodstream faster and more efficiently than water alone. It also contains 5 essential vitamins including Vitamins B3, B5, B6, B12 and Vitamin C. Amazon also has other good hydration drinks that are very similar.
Hydration During Exercise
Both the ISSN and ACSM emphasize that the point of hydrating during exercise is to prevent substantial fluid loss (>2% body weight loss), which can lead to subpar performance or potential health concerns.
Even though there are many guidelines for hydration, it's also important to note that it is really nearly impossible to state a clear guideline that everyone needs. This is because everyone needs are different and personal depending on each and everyone's certain situations in life.
Both organizations note that sweat rates for prolonged exercise can vary from 0.5 liters to 2 liters per hour, and that athletes should try to "keep up with" losses by consuming liquids steadily throughout exercise every 15 to 20 minutes.
It's important to be able to replace the amount of fluid intake so that your body stays at the proper hydration level. For example, if you loss1 liter of fluids, you should plan on consuming a total of 1 liter of fluids over the course of your workout to replenish the fluids in your body to prevent dehydration.
The ACSM recommends consuming 0.4 to 0.8 liters every hour for marathon runners or exercisers that are going to be working out longer than 1 hour. If you are running smaller bouts, closer to 0.4 liters per hour is recommended. ACSM also recommends consuming 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates (not to exceed 80 grams) per hour along with some sodium and potassium.
The ISSN, on the other hand, states that athletes should plan to consume roughly 12 to 16 ounces of fluids every 5 to 15 minutes over the course of a workout. The fluids should contain a 6 to 8% carbohydrate solution with 300 to 600 milligrams of sodium.
Those performing more intense workouts for longer periods of time, especially in hot or humid environments should plan on drinking more fluids more frequently, with those performing less intense workouts in less challenging environments skewing toward less fluid consumption on a less frequent schedule.
There are a lot of sports drinks out there on the market that helps your body replenish fluids during exercise. I usually drink Propel Berry Packets. Propel electrolyte water puts back what you lose in sweat. Propel is an excellent source of vitamin B and antioxidant vitamins C and E. You might be asking yourself "Does Propel Have Sugar?" nope! This is one of the reason's why I like it because they are made with zero sugar and it helps you get the most out of your workout without adding calories.
Rehydration Post Exercise
Post-exercise rehydration comes down to replacing the fluids and electrolytes lost during exercise. This is where the pre- and post-exercise weigh-ins can come in handy. According to the ISSN, for every pound lost during exercise, you should consume 3 cups of water.
Replacing your water intake after exercise doesn't mean that you should immediately down all of the water in one setting. - This might even make you sick, or feel very unwell. You can slowly add in the water the rest of the day to keep your body functioning at it's best and to ensure you've appropriately rehydrated.
The ACSM notes that if time permits, sticking to a normal eating and drinking schedule after your workout should be enough to restore hydration. If you happen to need to rehydrate quickly, like if your in competition, or running a race, you can try Liquid IV Hydration Packs like I mentioned earlier. There are also other rehydration packets out there such as Drip Drop Hydration, Nuun Sporty Hydration Tablets, or Revival Electrolytes Hydration Packets.
"Just because you’re not thirsty doesn’t mean you’re hydrated,"
Athletes need to be particularly conscientious about water intake levels, as well as electrolyte balance in order to help prevent dehydration. By paying attention to the color and concentration of your urine, and doing pre- and post-workout weigh-ins, you can develop a pretty good idea of your personal water intake needs for your body to ensure proper hydration.
There are so many health benefits of proper hydration and learning how to properly hydrate before, during and after workouts helps your body maintain optimal function.
But, if you're concerned about dehydration or you're unsure whether you're drinking enough water, consult with a sports dietitian or a healthcare provider that specializes in sports medicine to discuss whether you can get a more personalized assessment.
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