By Heidi Skolnick
Considering everything you have to do to prepare for your game, hydrating is the easiest and one of the most crucial. It just takes a little thought and planning to avoid the cramping, light-headedness and other symptoms that result from dehydration.
Create a hydration strategy you can use on a daily basis with the following tips.
Eat properly. Food provides 1/3 of your daily hydration needs. Athletes who skip meals have a very hard time maintaining proper hydration levels.
Keep liquids on handeven when you aren't about to train or compete. If you have a bagel, grab a glass of orange juice. Carry a water bottle with you. Whatever you drinkmilk, juice, sports drinks, herbal teaswill help your hydration level.
You need sports drinks. Water, of course, is always good. But you also need drinks with electrolytesmostly sodium, potassium and a few othersto help with fluid regulation.
Flavored fitness waters don't have electrolytes or enough calories for intense activity. They're only good for athletes who are not expending many calories.
Use sports drinks when you want to keep going longer. They replenish electrolytes and provide your body with substrates that help with endurance.
Weigh yourself before activity. You want to be within two percent of that weight by your next workout. This may require you to drink every few hours. Don't try to drink everything you need in one shot; your body can't absorb it.
Heidi Skolnick, M.S., C.D.N., FACSM, is the nutritionist for the New York Giants and Mets.
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