Winter Dehydration: Are You at Risk? | STACK

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

Winter Dehydration: Are You At Risk?

March 15, 2013 | Heather Mangieri

Must See Nutrition Videos

Staying hydrated in the summer is easier, because when you're working out in the heat, you notice how much you are sweating. However, when you're bundled up in cold, dry winter weather, it's harder to gauge your fluid loss. (See Dehydration Warning Signs.)

Being well hydrated is one of the most important considerations for optimal performance, regardless of the season. Here's what you need to know to make sure you're completely hydrated during the winter. (See also Individualize Your Hydration Schedule.)

The Air Is Dry and Cold

When you breathe in, your body humidifies the air. That's why you can see your breath when you exhale. What you may not realize is that this causes you to lose considerable amounts of fluid through respiration.

Also, winter conditions make for fast evaporative sweat loss. Any part of your body that is exposed to the elements will not be sweaty for long, but that doesn't mean your body isn't losing water.

You're Bundled Up in Layers

Depending on how many layers you wear, you may be carrying a considerable amount of extra weight. Extra weight means extra effort to move. Extra effort to move means increased exercise intensity. Increased exercise intensity lends itself to heavier breathing and more sweating, which take us back to the basic problem.

You Don't Feel Thirsty

This is the most important issue to be aware of. In the summer, when we become dehydrated, our bodies elicit a thirst response, helping to prevent dehydration. In the winter, our body's ability to elicit this response is hindered. Without getting into specifics, the way our bodies respond to cold temperatures alters the brain's ability to detect dehydration. When we aren't thirsty, we may not drink, which prompts further dehydration.

Dehydration seriously hinders performance and wellbeing. Avoid it by heeding these tips:

Hydrate Early and Often

  • Drink non-carbonated, non-caffeinated fluid (about 16 ounces every hour) before you exercise to ensure that you start fully hydrated
  • During exercise, drink 4-8 ounces of liquid every 15-20 minutes
  • For workouts lasting longer than 1 hour, drink a sports drink to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes
  • After exercising, drink 16-24 ounces of water per pound lost (weigh yourself before and after you work out to determine pounds of water lost)

Be Aware of the Signs of Dehydration

  • Early fatigue
  • Faster breathing and rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dark yellow urine (you want it to be almost clear)
  • So remember, bundle up and drink up!
Heather Mangieri
- Heather Mangieri is an award-winning expert in food and nutrition and a board certified specialist in sports dietetics. She owns Nutrition CheckUp, a nutrition...
Heather Mangieri
- Heather Mangieri is an award-winning expert in food and nutrition and a board certified specialist in sports dietetics. She owns Nutrition CheckUp, a nutrition...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

7 Rules for Keeping Hydrated

Beat the Heat: Hydrate with Lemon

Avoid Dehydration During Your Next Hockey Game

Drinking for Sport Performance

Chocolate Milk after Workouts

How to Schedule Your Hydration

Hydration Guidelines for Volleyball Players

Why Pedialyte Is a Good Source of Hydration for Hockey Players

4 Ways to Carry Backpack Hydration

Healthy Hydration for Track & Field Athletes

How Much Water Should Athletes Drink Every Day?

Will This Edible Blob Replace Your Water Bottle?

12 Must-Know Hydration Rules for Athletes

Selecting Fluids to Enhance Soccer Performance

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

Surviving Football Hell Week: A Nutrition Guide

BPA: Health Hazard In Your Water Bottle?

Benefits of Coconut Water for Athletes

This Ebola Treatment Sounds a Lot Like Your Sports Drink

Elements of Proper Hydration

Opinion: Your Post-Workout Recovery Nutrition Should Be Liquid

Beat the Heat During Training With These Hydration Strategies

Healthy Hydration for Hockey Players

Electrolytes Explained

Cutting Weight for Wrestling: 3-Step Sodium Strategy

4 Hydration Rules for Football Players

Compare 3 of the Most Popular Hydration Backpacks

Not Just for Drinking: Use Water to Avoid Getting Sick

Weight Loss and Other Benefits of Staying Hydrated

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

Powerade Removes Controversial Ingredient

How to Hydrate With Food

I Hate Water: Healthy Alternatives to H2O

How to Stay Hydrated When It's Hot and Humid

Hydration: Follow the Rules That Help Your Performance

Winter Dehydration: Are You At Risk?

Hydrate With...Pickle Juice?

6 Effective Drinks for Athletes

Staying Hydrated for Basketball

Hydration Inside the Race Car

An Athlete's Guide to Late-Summer Dehydration

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

New Gatorade Montage Counts 50 Years of Fueling Athletes

Ask the Experts: Am I Drinking Too Much Water?