The human body is made up of over 50% water. For athletes in particular, H2O is a key component in regulating body temperature and blood volume—processes which can impact performance in all activities, from an afternoon walk around Town Lake to running an ultra-marathon. Performance can significantly decrease with even a small percentage of dehydration—fluid loss of just 2 percent of your body weight can lead to marked reduction in endurance capacity and aerobic ability.
The general recommendation for fluid consumption is one mL per calorie consumed. This number increases in those who are physically active because of the way the body regulates rises in core temperature during exercise ( i.e., through sweat). The more we turn up that internal furnace, the more heat we produce, and the more core temperature would rise if there weren’t a regulatory mechanism. Luckily for us, instead of our insides being burned to a crisp, heat is released via the evaporation of sweat.
So what can you do to make sure that you stay in the homeostatic sweet spot? Here are some tips and tricks to help keep you hydrated:
- Drink before you feel thirsty. Thirst is an indicator that you have already crossed the threshold of dehydration, and it can be hard to catch up, especially in the middle of a work out.
- If you use a scale, weigh yourself in the morning without clothes and then again after your workout. Drink about 3 cups of fluid (electrolyte-enhanced is better because you lose electrolytes—especially sodium—when you sweat) for every pound of weight lost.
- Try to drink 2-4 cups of water at least four hours before exercise and another 1-2 cups at the 15-minute mark.
- Bring a water bottle with you to class or on the trail and try to take sips periodically throughout your workout. The general recommendation is 3-8 fluid ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes—unless you plan to work out for longer than an hour, in which case you should go for a sports drink with electrolytes and 5 to 8% carbohydrates.
- Take a peek when you pee! Urine that is light-yellow and abundant is a good indicator of adequate fluid status, while darker colored urine can indicate a lack of proper hydration.
- Drink throughout the day. We can only absorb so much water at once, so it is important to spread it out all day long. If you tend to get absorbed in work - try setting a reminder on your phone or computer to take a drink.
There is such a thing as being too hydrated. Drinking more than one liter of fluid per hour can mess with your electrolytes and result in all sorts of negative outcomes, even death. Shoot for around 2-3 liters per day, balancing fluid and electrolyte intake.
This weeks post brought to you by RB teacher Lauren Badell, who recently graduated with honors in the Didactic Program of Dietetics from the University of Texas. She knows that that abs are made in the kitchen and that the marriage of nutrition and fitness has the ability to transform lives and bodies. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge of both with RedBird clients. She now available for one-on-one nutrition counseling, as well as private, duet, and small group training in all modalities, including our signature suspension band training and toning programs.