Ever find yourself suffering from cottonmouth or intense cramps in the middle of a practice or game? If so, you were probably dehydrated. (Learn the Dehydration Warning Signs.)
Keeping hydrated encourages better overall health and boosts your performance significantly. But staying properly hydrated during activity is tricky business. Many athletes don't feel the effects of dehydration until it's too late.
Luckily, staying properly hydrated is easier than you think—if you know how to do it. Here are seven guidelines to follow to ensure you don't become dehydrated.
- Know your pre-workout and post-workout weight. Using a digital scale is one of the easiest methods of monitoring fluid intake and staying hydrated. Regular weigh-ins can also help you determine if your fluid intake during training is up to par.
- Schedule training sessions to avoid exercising during the hottest times of the day, when you sweat more and lose more fluids.
- For higher-intensity training sessions or practices, opt for a sports drink, or water infused with foods that boost electrolyte levels, like coconut water, lemon juice or fruit. Longer training sessions require more attention to keeping hydrated.
- Keep a chart of your food and fluid intake over several weeks, along with the length and intensity of training sessions, and identify any deficiencies. Then, make adjustments to promote optimal hydration outside the gym, along with ways to boost hydration during workouts.
- Take a water break every 15 to 30 minutes during activity. Outdoor training sessions during the heat of summer obviously require higher rates of fluid restoration than indoor sessions. Your food and fluid journal will help to determine if your intake matches your training regimen.
- If you must train during extreme weather conditions, modify your session and exercise with a lower intensity, while increasing your fluid intake.
- Monitor your fluid intake before, during and after a training session. If your urine runs clear, then you're properly hydrated. If not, increase your intake.
One final tip for keeping hydrated: Calculate your sweat rate. Sweat rates are highly individual, and can range from as little as .5 liters to 3.5 liters lost during activity, depending on the person, sport played and weather conditions.
How to perform the calculation
- Subtract your pre-exercise weight from your post-exercise weight in kilograms (kg).
- Multiply that number by 1000 to convert it to grams (g).
- Add the amount of fluid ingested during training.
- Subtract post-exercise weight: 60.0 kg
- From pre-exercise weight: 60.8 kg
- Which equals: 0.8 kg
- Multiply that number by 1000: 800 grams
- Add fluids consumed during exercise: 600 milliliters (ml)
- One ml generally equals 1 g, so simply add the two numbers together.
- Total fluid intake needed to restore sweat loss: 1,400 ml.
- Divide your fluid by the total time (minutes or hours) to determine your sweat rate.
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