Hydration is probably the most overlooked aspect of an athlete’s nutritional game plan. Unfortunately, thirst is not an indicator of hydration status, so it’s easy to forget about the need to hydrate when you’re so focused on training. Planning for fluids during your workouts will ensure that you get the most out of your time in the gym.
Slacking on proper hydration during intense training sessions can lead to a decrease in speed, stamina, and strength. The brain’s cognitive abilities are also compromised, and this may result in injuries if you train when you’re not as focused as you should be. Maintaining the right hydration to meet your body’s needs during rigorous exercise will help keep your heart rate low, as well as ensure a lower core body temperature to fight off fatigue. Even losing as little as 2% of your body weight in sweat will cause a significant negative effect on athletic performance.
Water is suitable for shorter training intervals. However, when cardio sessions (NOT resistance training) last for longer than 1 hour, a sports beverage that contains carbohydrates and electrolytes becomes a necessity. Sports drinks are designed to keep your blood sugar levels high to spare the last-resort fuel system of muscle glycogen. By providing electrolytes, they also help to maintain the body’s delicate fluid balance.
“Even losing as little as 2% of your body weight in sweat will cause a significant negative effect on athletic performance”
GENERAL FLUID GUIDELINES
• 2 hours pre-workout: 14 to 22 ounces (2+ cups)
• 10 to 20 minutes pre-workout: 8 ounces (1 cup)
• During the workout: Sip 6 to 8 ounces (1/2 to 1 cup) as tolerated every 15 to 20 minutes
• Post workout: 16 to 24 ounces for every pound lost within 2 hours after exercise
THE IDEAL SPORTS BEVERAGE
What to look for on a label per 8 ounces
• 50 to 70 calories
• ~13 to 18 grams of carbohydrates
• 110 mg sodium
• 30 mg potassium
• No added protein (as this slows carbohydrate digestion and usage)
CAUTION: AVOID HYPONATREMIA
• Over-hydrating can be lethal if body fluids become so diluted that the concentration of sodium becomes dangerously low. Symptoms include fatigue, bloat, nausea, and headache. If ignored, seizures, coma and death are possible.
• This condition can also be caused by extreme sodium losses during ultraendurance training.
• Using a sports beverage can help to prevent this condition, as well as eating salted pretzels before a very long workout.
SAVE COSTS AND MAKE YOUR OWN SPORTS BEVERAGE
• ¼ cup sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ cup hot water
• ¼ cup 100% pomegranate juice (may substitute orange juice) + 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 3 ½ cups cold water
In a pitcher, dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water. Then add the remaining ingredients and chill in the fridge before serving.
Each 8-ounce (1 cup) serving contains ~50 calories. Enjoy!