Ask the Experts: Am I Drinking Too Much Water?

Learn how to prevent uncomfortable stomach sloshing by hydrating throughout the day, especially before workouts, practices and games.

 Water Break

Q: I feel like water is sloshing around in my stomach when I run. Am I drinking too much?

Ugh! Nothing will bring your morning 5-miler to an end faster than a belly full of fluids. And you can't fly around the soccer field if your stomach is stuffed with water and sports drinks. While it may seem counterintuitive, sloshy stomach syndrome (ed. note: not a real diagnosis) usually happens not because you drank too much but because you drank too little (at least at first).

The sloshy feeling usually happens when you overcompensate for poor hydration. You don't drink enough before an intense workout. Suddenly you're really thirsty. So you chug some fluids to make up the deficit. The sudden influx of fluids hits your stomach, which can't process it all at once. So it splashes from side to side in your gut, like when you shake a jug of water. (Learn how to customize your hydration plan.)

To prevent this, drink fluids in smaller amounts more frequently. Hydration is an all-day process, not something you do only when you're training. Somebody who isn't physically active should drink about two liters of fluid each day. Athletes need even more to replenish the fluid they lose through sweat.

Two hours before your game or workout, consume about 16-20 ounces of water. Drink another six ounces 15 minutes beforehand. Once the activity begins, try to drink about four ounces every time you have a break, and another 12 to 16 ounces at halftime. That should get you sufficiently hydrated without causing a sloshy sensation down south.

These are just general guidelines, of course, and you should adjust them based on your exercise intensity and the outdoor temperature. (Learn how to hydrate during the summer.) Once you become thirsty, consume more fluids, because thirst is the first sign of dehydration. And judge the color of your urine throughout the day. If it's on the dark side, it indicates that you are dehydrated.

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