As athletes, we know that we need to drink water to stay hydrated while going through vigorous practices and games, but how much do we need and what are the consequences? Many people have heard that 8 glasses of water per day is the correct amount of water to drink. This is correct; however as athletes we are not the average bear when it comes to hydration.
Why is it important?
It is essential for us to maintain a balanced amount of fluids in our bodies each day. Having adequate hydration improves your ability to train and your overall performance on the field or court. Without adequate hydration, it is common to have cramps, heat stroke, sickness, lethargy, and an overall lack of performance.
So how do you know if you are hydrated or not? The best indicator to tell by is the color of your urine. The lighter the color, the more hydrated you are. Darker colored urine, such as the color of apple juice is a sign of dehydration. If you take a multivitamin soon after your urine will likely be darker due to the abundance of vitamins included which naturally turn your urine darker.
The amount you sweat has an effect on how much liquid you need to replace. You should know how much water you need when you have your Bio-impedance test taken. You need to make the realization on how much you sweat and how much your body needs to consume during practice or games. The sun in Baton Rouge can be very unforgiving so it is crucial to maintain proper hydration under harsh conditions. The biggest goal of staying hydrated is to drink as much as you need to prevent dehydration without drinking too much.
How much should I drink?
(Pre-workout) It is important to realize that preparing in advance can go a long way in preventing dehydration the next day or simply before practice/games. Within a minimum of 2 hours before exercise try to drink roughly a 12-16oz of water (2 glasses).
(During) Sweat loss during exercise is different for everyone and typically the recommendation is 7-10 ounces of water for every 15-20 minutes. It is important to recognize how much you are sweating and to make sure you replenish what you lose.
(Post-Workout) If during your workout you notice that you have lost weight, it is recommended that you put back in what you had lost during activity. Drinking 16-24oz for every pound you lose can decrease the risk of dehydration.
Factors the manipulate fluid replacement
- Sweat rate
- Intensity of the workout
- Duration of the exercise
- Opportunities to drink
- Fluid availability
What should I be sippin' on?
- PowerAde is great during activities due to the added electrolytes-- but should not be consumed all the time due to its high sugar content. PowerAde ZERO is a good alternative for everyday use.
- Good ol' fashioned water
- Coconut water-- Low calorie, plenty of electrolytes and vitamins included
- Unsweetened tea with lemon
- Soda’s- All sugar with added flavor and carbonations
- Lemonade, Snapple - Most are nearly as bad as soda’s
- Alcohol- dehydrates you by acting as a diuretic making you go to the bathroom more often
- Juices- Are tricky, they are good in small amounts due to the vitamins included but contain loads of natural sugar made up of fructose. Fructose can cause an upset stomach. Limit the usage of juice before large workouts (1 glass)
- Coffee/energy drinks- caffeine also acts as a diuretic, which makes you lose more water quicker
Contributed by Daniel Hunoway- Dietetic Intern at Tulane University