Drinking for Sport Performance

September 15, 2012 | Erik Sesbreno

Must See Nutrition Videos

Good hydration is critical for optimizing health and sport performance. Although athletes acknowledge the importance of proper fueling, deciding how much liquid is needed during exercise and competition can be confusing.

Undoubtedly, water plays an important role in sport performance. For example, water in blood transports glucose, oxygen and fats to working muscles. It can also carry metabolic waste such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. This process removes impurities from the body by eliminating waste product through urine.

To make sure athletes are consistently performing at their best, it's important to be aware of factors that can influence fluid requirements. Water is lost through sweat. The losses are determined primarily by the intensity and duration of the exercise, as well as by ambient temperature and humidity. A reduction in fluid volume affects blood flow to the skin, allowing body temperature to rise.

Dehydration compromises high-intensity and endurance workouts by reducing power output and impairing mental concentration. Fluid loss of five percent reportedly can decrease the capacity to work by 30 percent. To prevent this from happening, it's important to test your rate of fluid loss during training and competition.

There's an easy way to test fluid loss during physical activity. All you need is a calculator and a weight scale. The first step is weigh yourself approximately 15 to 30 minutes before exercise and after drinking. Then after practice and after drying yourself off, record your weight again in the same amount of clothing as before. Convert to kilograms by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.2. It's easier to estimate your fluid loss when your weight is in kilograms, because one kg of body weight equals one liter of fluid.

Now complete the following calculation: divide the number of kg lost during your workout by your pre-workout weight. Example: a 176-pound athlete weighs 80 kg. If he loses two kgs during his workout, the calculation is: -2/80 = -.025. Multiply the resulting number by 100 to get your percentage of fluid loss (-2.5% in the preceding example). If the result is a negative value, you lost fluid. If your number is greater than two percent, you lost too much fluid and likely experienced a decline in physical performance. At this level of dehydration, it is sometimes difficult subjectively to identify a decline in performance. It's often imperceptible to athletes unless they're severely dehydrated. During intense exercise, three hours or more, athletes may tolerate a loss of weight slightly above two percent because of changes unrelated to sweat loss. Therefore, in general, it's important to limit fluid loss to within one to two percent of your initial body weight.

It's equally important to avoid overdrinking to a point where your post-exercise weight is greater than your pre-weight. Overhydration can lead to headache and disorientation, and, in serious cases, coma or death. Overdrinking is more likely to occur when exercise is performed in a cool environment and at low intensity.

Learn more through STACK's Hydration Guide.

Photo: Eastbayri.com

- Erik Sesbreno is a sport dietitian registered with the College of Dietitians of Ontario. As a provincial executive member of the Dietitians of Canada's Sport...
- Erik Sesbreno is a sport dietitian registered with the College of Dietitians of Ontario. As a provincial executive member of the Dietitians of Canada's Sport...
Must See
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,798,807
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 37,418,296
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 6,946,391

Featured Videos

Basketball Shooting Drill: Kevin Love's Turn-and-Shoot Drill Basketball Shooting Drill: Kevin Love's Turn-and-Shoot Drill Views: 1,877
SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of SEALFIT: Pushing the Limits of What Athletes Are Capable Of
Athletic Gaines: Get Faster With Weighted Sled Pushes Athletic Gaines: Get Faster With Weighted Sled Pushes
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 6,081,054
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,928
Dustin Pedroia on Training Dustin Pedroia on Training
Views: 10,919,916
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,869
Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose Yoga for Athletes: Crow Pose
Views: 3,539,411

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
4 Ways to Carry Backpack Hydration

4 Ways to Carry Backpack Hydration

How Much Water Should Athletes Drink Every Day?

How Much Water Should Athletes Drink Every Day?

Hydrate With...Pickle Juice?

Hydrate With...Pickle Juice?

This Ebola Treatment Sounds a Lot Like Your Sports Drink

This Ebola Treatment Sounds a Lot Like Your Sports Drink

Compare 3 of the Most Popular Hydration Backpacks

Compare 3 of the Most Popular Hydration Backpacks

Winter Dehydration: Are You At Risk?

Winter Dehydration: Are You At Risk?

Hydration Inside the Race Car

Hydration Inside the Race Car

How to Stay Hydrated When It's Hot and Humid

How to Stay Hydrated When It's Hot and Humid

Weight Loss and Other Benefits of Staying Hydrated

Weight Loss and Other Benefits of Staying Hydrated

New Gatorade Montage Counts 50 Years of Fueling Athletes

New Gatorade Montage Counts 50 Years of Fueling Athletes

I Hate Water: Healthy Alternatives to H2O

I Hate Water: Healthy Alternatives to H2O

BPA: Health Hazard In Your Water Bottle?

BPA: Health Hazard In Your Water Bottle?

Powerade Removes Controversial Ingredient

Powerade Removes Controversial Ingredient

Beat the Heat During Training With These Hydration Strategies

Beat the Heat During Training With These Hydration Strategies

Will This Edible Blob Replace Your Water Bottle?

Will This Edible Blob Replace Your Water Bottle?

Beat the Heat: Hydrate with Lemon

Beat the Heat: Hydrate with Lemon

Surviving Football Hell Week: A Nutrition Guide

Surviving Football Hell Week: A Nutrition Guide

Electrolytes Explained

Electrolytes Explained

An Athlete's Guide to Late-Summer Dehydration

An Athlete's Guide to Late-Summer Dehydration

Healthy Hydration for Track & Field Athletes

Healthy Hydration for Track & Field Athletes

Too Much of a Good Thing: The Danger of Over-Hydration

Too Much of a Good Thing: The Danger of Over-Hydration

Healthy Hydration for Hockey Players

Healthy Hydration for Hockey Players

Best Pre-Workout Energy Drink? You May Be Pleasantly Surprised!

Best Pre-Workout Energy Drink? You May Be Pleasantly Surprised!

Staying Hydrated for Basketball

Staying Hydrated for Basketball

Benefits of Coconut Water for Athletes

Benefits of Coconut Water for Athletes

12 Must-Know Hydration Rules for Athletes

12 Must-Know Hydration Rules for Athletes

Living the #JugLife: Javale McGee Wants You to Drink More Water

Living the #JugLife: Javale McGee Wants You to Drink More Water

How to Schedule Your Hydration

How to Schedule Your Hydration

Avoid Dehydration During Your Next Hockey Game

Avoid Dehydration During Your Next Hockey Game

6 Effective Drinks for Athletes

6 Effective Drinks for Athletes

Drinking for Sport Performance

Drinking for Sport Performance

Chocolate Milk after Workouts

Chocolate Milk after Workouts

Cutting Weight for Wrestling: 3-Step Sodium Strategy

Cutting Weight for Wrestling: 3-Step Sodium Strategy

How to Hydrate With Food

How to Hydrate With Food

Ask the Experts: Am I Drinking Too Much Water?

Ask the Experts: Am I Drinking Too Much Water?

7 Rules for Keeping Hydrated

7 Rules for Keeping Hydrated

Hydration: Follow the Rules That Help Your Performance

Hydration: Follow the Rules That Help Your Performance

4 Hydration Rules for Football Players

4 Hydration Rules for Football Players

Opinion: Your Post-Workout Recovery Nutrition Should Be Liquid

Opinion: Your Post-Workout Recovery Nutrition Should Be Liquid

Hydration Guidelines for Volleyball Players

Hydration Guidelines for Volleyball Players

Why Pedialyte Is a Good Source of Hydration for Hockey Players

Why Pedialyte Is a Good Source of Hydration for Hockey Players

Selecting Fluids to Enhance Soccer Performance

Selecting Fluids to Enhance Soccer Performance

Elements of Proper Hydration

Elements of Proper Hydration

Not Just for Drinking: Use Water to Avoid Getting Sick

Not Just for Drinking: Use Water to Avoid Getting Sick

YardBarker