How to Beat Dehydration: The #1 Cause of Poor Performance | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

How to Beat the Number One Nutrition-Related Cause of Poor Performance

January 15, 2013 | Katie Davis

Must See Nutrition Videos

What's the number one nutrition-related cause of poor performance? Dehydration. It takes only a two percent level of dehydration in your body to trigger a drop in performance. During an intense practice, athletes lose body weight due to sweat and use of muscle carbohydrate stores. So if a 150-pound athlete were to lose only three pounds during activity, he or she would be greatly affecting his or her training efforts.

What can you do to assure you stay hydrated before, during and after practice?

Start early

Be sure to drink 16 ounces (two cups) of water as soon as you wake up in the morning. Put a water bottle or glass of water right next to your bed as a reminder and so you have no excuse.

Be consistent

Properly hydrating is about what you do all day, not just during practice. Carry a water bottle with you and drink enough fluids during the day to maintain the color of your urine pale yellow or lighter. Another signal is thirst. If you are thirsty, you are already one percent dehydrated, so drink to stay ahead of thirst. Continue hydrating the entire day until bedtime.

Use multiple sources

Just because you don't like drinking plain water is no excuse to be dehydrated. Use other drinks such as low-fat milk, tea or coffee (limit to 24 ounces daily), flavored waters (zero-calorie brands), or even 100-percent juice once in a while. And keep in mind that many foods are high in water content, such as soups, stews and most fruits and vegetables. (Have you tried Coconut Water?)

Take breaks

During practice, take breaks to hydrate. The rule of thumb is about eight ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. That means one standard sports bottle full of water for each hour of activity. No need to add a sports drink unless you will be practicing at least 90 minutes. (See Drinking for Sport Performance.)

Check your weight

To check how well you hydrated during practice, weigh yourself before and after. Any drop in weight indicates a loss of water that wasn't adequately replaced. For each pound you lost during practice, drink 24 ounces (three cups) as soon as possible to re-hydrate.

Katie Davis
- Katie Davis, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, helps ordinary athletes become extraordinary competitors by using whole-food-based nutrition to improve their performance. She is the owner of...
Katie Davis
- Katie Davis, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, helps ordinary athletes become extraordinary competitors by using whole-food-based nutrition to improve their performance. She is the owner of...
Must See
Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 2,761,355
Why You Should Never Doubt Colin Kaepernick
Views: 17,820,907
Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,307,107

Featured Videos

Dwight Howard Ab Workout Views: 62,466
John Wall Elbow-to-Elbow Shooting Drill Views: 186,478
Elite Performance with Mike Boyle: Build Explosive Power With Contrast Training Views: 17,723
Load More


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


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Colby Lewis's Post-Game Band Splitter Routine
Views: 8,349,368
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,988,602
Allyson Felix Explains How To Choose a Coach
Views: 8,690,610
Charging Ground Balls With Skip Schumaker
Views: 29,529
Antonio Brown Juggles 3 Footballs
Views: 1,175,033

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Benefits of Coconut Water for Athletes

Opinion: Your Post-Workout Recovery Nutrition Should Be Liquid

Chocolate Milk after Workouts

Hydration Inside the Race Car

How to Stay Hydrated When It's Hot and Humid

Not Just for Drinking: Use Water to Avoid Getting Sick

4 Ways to Carry Backpack Hydration

An Athlete's Guide to Late-Summer Dehydration

Weight Loss and Other Benefits of Staying Hydrated

Healthy Hydration for Track & Field Athletes

Selecting Fluids to Enhance Soccer Performance

Hydrate With...Pickle Juice?

Surviving Football Hell Week: A Nutrition Guide

BPA: Health Hazard In Your Water Bottle?

How to Hydrate With Food

Winter Dehydration: Are You At Risk?

6 Effective Drinks for Athletes

Elements of Proper Hydration

Hydration Guidelines for Volleyball Players

Why Pedialyte Is a Good Source of Hydration for Hockey Players

Cutting Weight for Wrestling: 3-Step Sodium Strategy

Healthy Hydration for Hockey Players

Hydration: Follow the Rules That Help Your Performance

Powerade Removes Controversial Ingredient

I Hate Water: Healthy Alternatives to H2O

New Gatorade Montage Counts 50 Years of Fueling Athletes

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

Will This Edible Blob Replace Your Water Bottle?

Drinking for Sport Performance

Beat the Heat During Training With These Hydration Strategies

Compare 3 of the Most Popular Hydration Backpacks

Beat the Heat: Hydrate with Lemon

How Much Water Should Athletes Drink Every Day?

Avoid Dehydration During Your Next Hockey Game

Electrolytes Explained

How to Schedule Your Hydration

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

Ask the Experts: Am I Drinking Too Much Water?

4 Hydration Rules for Football Players

12 Must-Know Hydration Rules for Athletes

This Ebola Treatment Sounds a Lot Like Your Sports Drink

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

Staying Hydrated for Basketball

7 Rules for Keeping Hydrated