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Being prepared for practices and games means more than just being dressed and on time. Proper hydration is also key, and you should start doing it the moment you wake up. Below is an all-day game plan to help you be ready for action.
“Think about the big picture when you think of hydration,” says Heidi Skolnik, nutrition consultant for the New York Giants. “It’s a 24-hour process.” Meaning, if you’re not hydrating all day, you can’t compensate by drinking a lot of fluids right before activity. All-day hydration is absolutely crucial for optimal performance. Skolnik recommends consuming fluids such as juice, water, tea and low-fat milk with every meal. Enhanced water also works; top choices include G2, an off-the-field hydrator from the makers of Gatorade, Fruit2o and Vitaminwater XXX.
Pre- and During-Activity Hydration
If you’ll be physically active for 45 minutes or more, reach for a sports drink. According to Michele Macedonio, team dietitian for the Cincinnati Bengals, they contain electrolytes such as sodium, chloride and potassium, which regulate fluid exchange in the body and aid with muscle and gland functions; and carbohydrates, which the body uses for energy during activity. Macedonio suggests consuming a sports drink that has about 14 grams of carbohydrates and at least 70 milligrams of sodium per eight ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Top choices include Gatorade, Accelerade and Powerade.
“The purpose of drinking after activity is to bring the body back to a normal hydration state,” says Amy Jamieson-Petonic, former sports nutritionist for the Cleveland Cavaliers. To determine how much fluid you need, Jamieson-Petonic advises weighing yourself before and after activity; for every pound lost, drink 24 ounces [about three cups] of fluid. Ideally, drink fluids that have a 4:1 carbs to protein ratio. Chocolate milk is a solid option, and other top choices include Clif Shot Recovery and PowerBar Recovery Shake.