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

January 15, 2013 | Katie Davis

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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...
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