We lose fluid every day through sweating, breathing, and urinating. Exercisers should be aware of their perspiration because they begin to dehydrate as soon as they begin to exercise. Around 75% of the energy you expend during exercise is converted to heat, which is then wasted. To keep your core body temperature within acceptable limits — around 37 to 38 degrees Celsius – extra heat must be removed. Sweating is how your body keeps cool, therefore fluid replacement is critical.
If you don’t drink enough water, your blood will thicken, lowering the effectiveness of your heart, increasing your heart rate, and rising your body temperature. Your body can lose a certain amount of fluid – and sodium – without affecting your performance, but after a while, that loss of fluid – and sodium – starts to take its toll. This normally happens after you’ve lost about 2% of your body weight, and it might result in a 20% decline in performance. At this point, the workout becomes more difficult and weariness sets in. Dehydration can have more serious health repercussions if left untreated.Headache, light-headedness, confusion, muscle cramps, and shortness of breath can all occur when your body weight drops by 5%.
Overhydration can also be harmful to your health and performance during an exercise. Hyponatraemia occurs when the sodium concentration in the body becomes excessively diluted as a result of drinking too much water (or low blood sodium). The symptoms are ironically identical to those of dehydration: decreased athletic performance, nausea, tiredness, dizziness, and disorientation. If left unchecked, it can lead to major health problems like blackouts and seizures.
The hydration zone
Staying in your hydration zone is the key to avoiding dehydration and overhydration. This is the hydration level that allows you to perform at your best. Weighing yourself before and after exercise can give you a good idea of whether you’re in your target zone. It is never a good idea to drink so much water that you gain weight. Similarly, you should aim not to lose more than 2% of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 68 kilogrammes (150 pounds), 2% of your body weight is 1.4 kg (3 lb). As a result, your hydration zone would be 66.6 to 68 kg.
Developing your hydration plan
One thing that all studies agree on is that you must begin an exercise or competition hydrated. You’ll have the highest chance of giving your best performance if you do it this way. You’ll have enough time for your body to eliminate what you don’t need if you drink 400–600 ml roughly two hours before working out. It also guarantees that your body compensates for any past fluid deficiency. During the warm-up, drink little and often.
Check your hydration status before exercise
Checking the colour of your urine might help you keep track of your hydration levels. Researchers from the University of Connecticut discovered that urine colour closely reflects hydration state. Good hydration is indicated by a pale straw colour. If it’s darker, it’s a warning that you need to drink extra water before starting to exercise.
Choose the right drink
Choose water for workouts that last less than an hour. It is quickly absorbed and moisturises the body. A sports drink that delivers carbs, liquids, and sodium is usually a better option for longer workouts, or perhaps for shorter intense sessions in hot or humid conditions. Drinking this type of beverage has a variety of perks. To begin with, the additional carbohydrates will aid in the maintenance of blood glucose levels and the fueling of muscles during exercise. Second, the carbohydrate and sodium speed up the absorption of the fluid. Third, when a drink is flavorful, most individuals drink more freely. Fourth, the salt in sports drinks aids in the retention of the fluid you’ve consumed.
Drink the right amount
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), for example, no longer provides prescriptive advice on how much to drink during exercise. In view of the increasing number of cases of hyponatraemia, the old advise to drink as much as possible has been removed. Drink when you’re thirsty and listen to your body, according to current guidance. 400–800 ml per hour will avoid dehydration as well as overhydration in most workouts and conditions. Aim to drink fluids at a rate that matches your perspiration rate. When it’s hot and humid outside, and you’re working out harder/faster, you’ll sweat more. It’s preferable to drink little amounts of water often, such as 100–150 mL every 15 minutes, as this results in more retention and less urine.
Rehydrate after exercise
The body takes 30 to 60 minutes to rehydrate after exercise on average. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) both recommend consuming 1.2 to 1.5 times the weight of fluid lost during activity. This extra liquid helps to compensate for the increased urine output that comes after consuming a big amount of liquid. You can figure out how much fluid you’ve shed by weighing yourself before and after activity. Drink 1.2–1.5 litres for every kilogramme of fluid lost. Instead of drinking it all at once, spread it out over an hour. Consuming a small amount of salt in food or drink will aid recovery by allowing you to retain the fluid you’ve consumed.
How to make a sports drink from scratch
500 mL fruit juice, 500 mL water, and 0.5–1 g (1/8 tsp) salt (optional)
200 mL squash, 800 mL water, and 0.5–1 g (1/8 teaspoon) salt (optional)
1 litre warm water, 40–80g sugar, and 0.5–1g (eighth of a teaspoon) salt dissolved If desired, flavour with a little sugar-free squash.