Summertime Hydration for Athletes

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s hot, so proper hydration is a must!

      Summer weather is officially here in South Carolina! By summer weather, I mean humidity. Gone are the days of being able to walk outside and not worry about sweating through your shirt. If you are an athlete, these conditions can be extremely dangerous. Here, I have put together some tips on how to stay hydrated during your workout so that your body can keep running at top notch.
      In order to understand hydration, we have to understand dehydration. What exactly is dehydration? Dehydration occurs when you have fluid loss that is greater than 2 percent of your total body weight, which causes a 20% decrease in overall performance. When dehydration occurs, body temperature increases while blood volume and the production of sweat decreases. To prevent overheating, the body works harder to try to produce sweat. When the body has to work harder to sweat, fluid is taken from the bloodstream, leaving less fluid to help deliver blood (and therefore oxygen) to the lungs, muscles or other vital organs. According to Gatorade.com, “Significant drops in potassium and sodium, the two main electrolytes lost in sweat, can delay brain to muscle communication, slowing down reaction times and decreasing muscle performance.” Hyponatremia is the name for low levels of sodium in the blood. This occurs when large amounts of fluid and sodium are lost, which happens a lot when we sweat. Hyponatremia can lead to a coma or even be fatal if the body is not appropriately taken care of. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can lead to poor muscle function, muscle cramps, dizziness or fatigue. These are just a few of the reasons why proper hydration and electrolyte balance are so important to athletes!
Whether you are a recreational gym user or a team player, these steps can ensure you get the best out of your workout:
  • Weigh yourself before and after every workout. This allows you to take note of how much fluid you are losing. Gatorade.com suggests drinking 16 fluid ounces for every 1 pound you lose during your workout.
  • Calculate your sweat loss during exercise (how-to on this below).
  • Drink 16 fluid ounces of water 2 or 3 hours before your workout.
  • Drink 8 fluid ounces of water for every 15 minutes of exercise.
  • Sports drinks are a good option for athletes doing 60-90 minutes of a high intensity workout. Sports drinks with balanced carbohydrate and liquid ratio (like Gatorade or Powerade), provide muscles with small amounts of fuel.
  • For athletes trying to lose weight or doing low intensity workouts, Nuun tablets can be placed in water, which have no added sugar, but are packed with electrolytes.
  • Remember that time-outs and game breaks are the perfect time to hydrate.
  • Stay away from sugary drinks like soda, they do not provide a balanced carb-to-liquid ratio and take longer for your body to digest.
Calculating your Sweat Rate:
To calculate your sweat rate, take the total number of weight loss and convert it to ounces (1lb=16oz). Subtract the number of ounces you drank during your exercise. Divide that number by the total hours of the workout. For example:
1) 130lb (Pre-workout) – 128lb (Post-workout) = 2lbs = 32 ounces.
2) 32 ounces – 20 ounces during workout = 12 ounces.
3) 12 ounces ÷ 2 hours of exercise = 6oz. sweat per hour

 

Need some personal guidance when it comes to in-season or off-season fueling? Check out my upcoming sports nutrition workshop, “Hydration & Supplements for Athletes” on 8/2/18 at 6:30 pm. You’ll learn:

  • What to drink when- create your own hydration schedule
  • Personalized electrolyte needs, best sources
  • How to evaluate supplements, safe and effective options for athletes
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