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We all know that proper hydration is at the focal point of all nutritional plans.  This idea is only intensified during exercise as with physical exertion comes a much higher necessity for hydration. The human body’s ability to perform athletic movements precisely or to conduct proper exercise is decreased even with a small amount of dehydration.  At the point of dehydration, or simply not hydrated adequately your muscles won’t be anywhere near optimal performance, there’s a possibility of dizziness and your body will cramp quicker.


Many factors can change the levels of hydration needed. The

environment is a major factor. Warmer weather increases sweat

loss and, therefore, require a higher intake of liquids.  Humidity is

a major factor, separate from temperature, that causes a person to

sweat much more.  As the athlete becomes improperly hydrated, the

sweat rate will reduce. This will cause the body temperature to rise.  Additionally, higher altitudes can cause more urination and more rapid breathing, which would also lead to a greater need for water intake. 



Illness is another factor that can heavily affect hydration levels. Water losses of as high as 200 ml/day can be a result of a fever. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration very quickly.  Pregnancy, or breastfeeding, is another factor in hydration.  Women who are pregnant should intake about 10 glasses of 250 ml of fluids while women breastfeeding should consume upwards of 12 glasses.


The rate at which a person should consume water is roughly equal to the

rate the person is sweating. During colder weather, many athletes can

tolerate slightly lower hydration levels that equal nearly 2% without a risk.

However, in warmer weather (>80 degrees Fahrenheit) dehydration could

lead to a heat injury (heat cramps, heat exhaustion or a heat stroke) and

impairs power production and acute motor function. 


Fluid replacement is the main focus of coaches across all sports when it comes to proper hydration. Most coaches and athletes don’t know, or care, the rate at which it’s acceptable for water loss or the amount of water an athlete needs to consume.  The idea surrounds the rate of hydration, water breaks, an athlete receives during exercise (practice or games). It is recommended that an athlete consumes water prior to an exercise so as to better prepare the body for work, and help start the body at a proper hydration level. This should begin several hours before the exercise and continue until about 15-20 minutes before exercise.


You can’t talk about proper hydration without at least mentioning hyponatremia.  This is caused by an imbalance between hydration (increase) and electrolytes (decrease). With this imbalance, the sodium in your body becomes diluted and your cells begin to swell, which could cause mild health problems, and, at times, more severe, possibly life-threatening issues.


                Bottom line – athletes and coaches have a direct responsibility to remain hydrated to promote safety and optimal performance.



Drinking plenty of fluids is essential to fitness and athletic performance. It can even help you lose weight. Not staying hydrated, on the other hand, can hinder your performance and negatively impact your health.



How Much Water?

Drinking a gallon of water a day can increase your effectiveness in performance situations, whether at work, in the gym, or on the field.

People tend to think that it’s impossible to drink a gallon of water a day. These often are the same people who have three cups of coffee in the morning, a couple of diet soft drinks with lunch, and alcoholic beverages during and after dinner. They all provide hydration but are not nearly as healthy as water.


If you substitute water, you’ll have no problem drinking a gallon a day. Drink two glasses when you wake up, two glasses with every meal, and plenty of water before, during, and after working out. Take a water bottle to work and drink all day. Keep a bottle in the car. If you’re training hard, especially in warmer climates, you may find you actually exceed a gallon a day.

You probably won’t miss the caffeine. If the rest of your nutrition plan is solid, it should help you regulate your blood sugar level, so you won’t feel the need to use caffeine as an artificial energy source.


Hydration and Weight Loss

Proper hydration regulates appetite. A lot of times people think they’re hungry when they’re really just thirsty. If you’re trying to lose weight, have a glass of water before eating, and you’ll have that satiety that keeps you from overeating.


Are You Dehydrated?

How do you know if you’re properly hydrated? Take a look at your urine. Generally speaking, the clearer the urine, the better hydrated you are. If it is a clear-pale lemonade color, you are hydrated. If it is a darker lemonade to apple juice color, you are dehydrated. And if it is dark and cloudy, you are severely dehydrated and should notify medical staff immediately.



Look Younger

Water has a direct impact on the aging process. Because of the dehydration, inactivity, and trauma from daily life, the connective tissues around our muscles and joints dry up over time, sort of like those chew toys for dogs that start out soft and pliable and end up stiff and brittle. Just drinking sufficient water goes a long way toward preventing this process while improving your muscle tissue and flexibility. Recent research suggests that any beverage, even one with caffeine, promotes hydration, but there’s still nothing better than water.


A Healthier Smile

Why drink caffeinated beverages when there’s a perfect, healthier, alternative available? Some people rationalize drinking diet soft drinks because the beverages have no calories. That’s true but they still can damage your teeth and offer no nutritional value. We’d never put the automotive equivalent of diet soft drinks in our cars, but we do it to our bodies all the time.


As far as artificial sweeteners in soft drinks and other beverages go, recent research suggests that modest consumption of artificial sweeteners is a better alternative to high fructose corn syrup and other sugars. Although, we are not fans of diet soft drinks—it is better to drink water—we would rather see you drink a diet than a regular soft drink that’s loaded with sugar (a typical can has about 150 calories, all from sugar).


If you drink coffee, don’t overdo the cream and sugar. Again, goes back to making healthier choices. Consider a healthier alternative such a green or black teas, which have antioxidant properties.


Sports Drinks

Look for carbs and electrolytes in your sports drink. Drinking 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour (16 to 32 ounces) will provide you with the fuel you need to keep your workout going strong, and 110 to 200 milligrams of sodium per 8-ounces of sports drink will enhance the absorption of the fluid and keep your muscles from cramping.


But don’t assume that sports drinks are an equal substitute for water, especially for people in everyday life. In fact, most are loaded with a ton of high glycemic carbohydrates that elevate blood sugar and ultimately contribute to body fat. Sports drinks are most valuable for endurance athletes competing in prolonged, intense activity. These athletes need to replace sugars immediately. But most of us never reach that level of exertion. A lower-calorie sports drink like a G2 is a good choice for anyone.


Water Intoxication

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of proper hydration for enhancing performance and health. A lack of water is dangerous. In extreme instances, athletes have suffered heat stroke and even died from dehydration.


But it’s also possible to go overboard with hydration. Hyponatremia, also known as “water intoxication,” is a potentially fatal condition experienced by endurance athletes who over-hydrate with water.


This condition is brought on by extremely low blood sodium levels and triggers symptoms from nausea and muscle cramps to coma and even death. A runner died from the condition following the 2002 Boston Marathon, and another spent four days in a coma following a marathon in Jamaica.

The problem happens when there’s too much water and not enough electrolytes (potassium, sodium, and chloride) flowing through the body. Water keeps coming in, but because of a lack of electrolytes, the blood sodium level is low, which throws off your heartbeat and response systems.


Sports Drinks vs Water

People tend to think that water is a better choice than sports drinks since it has no calories. This is certainly true in everyday life. But when competing in an event or a training session of extreme exertion, it’s important to hydrate with products that can replenish electrolytes. Good choices include Gatorade and Amino Vital Endurance Formula, or you can take products such as Gatorlytes, Gu, or Hammer Gel with water.



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