May 15, 2019

Healthy Hydration for Athletes

By Tiffany K. Gust MS, CISSN

With the temperature heating up, it’s time to bring more attention to your hydration practices. Your performance can suffer if you are in a dehydrated state.

Hydration is important because it helps your body maintain a constant internal temperature. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, flushed skin, fatigue, headache, dizziness, weakness, and dark colored urine.

Tips for hydration:

  • Do not wait until you are thirsty.
  • Hydrate before a long exercise session.
  • Consider the color of your urine to monitor your hydration.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provides the following recommendations for fluid replacement before, during, and after athletic competition or exercise:

  1. Athletes should consume a nutritionally balanced diet and drink adequate fluids in the twenty-four hours leading up to a sporting event.
  2. Athletes should drink about seventeen ounces of fluid in the two hours leading up to an event.
  3. During exercise, athletes should drink at regular intervals to replace water lost through sweating.
  4. Fluids should be colder than the outside temperature: 15℃–22℃ or 59℉–72℉.
  5. Additional carbohydrate and electrolyte fluid replacement is recommended for exercise lasting longer than one hour. The ACSM recommends that carbohydrates be ingested at a rate of thirty to sixty grams per hour to maintain oxidation and prevent fatigue. This can best be achieved by drinking 600–1200 milliliters per hour of a solution that contains four percent to eight percent carbohydrates. A solution that contains sodium will help promote fluid retention and prevent possible hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels).
  6. The goal of drinking during exercise is to prevent excessive dehydration (less than two percent body weight loss from water deficit), to prevent changes in electrolyte balance, and to avert compromised performance.
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