The 24/7 Summer Hydration Plan

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Want to get an edge on your competitors? Make a plan to create and follow a routine that maintains your body's fluid balance 24/7. Then make it a habit that you can carry into the season.

Yeah, we know you know how to hydrate. Everybody does. The difference comes when athletes put their knowledge into action, which our research with Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) indicates too few athletes do. That's where you get the edge.

Summer's a perfect time to get started. Without the daily grind of classes, practices and games, you have more time to devote to mapping out, carrying out and, most important, making a habit of your plan. Plus summer is when your hydration plan will matter most. The heat and humidity make you sweat more profusely, so maintaining fluid levels is more critical—and trickier.

What Gives with 24/7?

Think about drinking ALL day? Why not just gulp down a Gatorade as you head to practice? Because your body doesn't work that way. It takes time for it to absorb the fluid, so you won't be hydrated in time for practice and, with fluid sloshing around in your stomach, you won't feel at the top of your game.

By drinking throughout the day, you can then top off your tank before and during a game or workout with just enough of the right kind of drink. Properly hydrated, you can compete at your peak level of conditioning— physically and mentally.

The trick is making the right kind of drinking part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth. You don't think about it. You just do it.

Your Personal Plan

To know how much YOU need to drink, you'll need to experiment, says Dr. Kim White, Senior Scientist at GSSI. Start out with some general guidelines and see if they work for you. Use the sample plan below as a guide. Follow it for a few days, monitor your progress, then adjust accordingly. A good way to monitor how you're doing is to check the color of your urine—it should be a pale yellow.

Drinking Plan For a 180-Pound Athlete

General Guideline: Drink 60 ounces of fluids, plus what you need to prepare before, maintain during and recover after a workout.

8 am: With breakfast: 20 oz
8 oz water when you first wake up
6 oz juice with your meal
6 oz of milk in your cereal

Noon: With lunch:
8 oz milk or juice

Afternoon: 8 oz
Regularly sip from a water bottle or every water fountain you see.

Pre-Workout Preparation
4 pm (two hours before workout/practice): 20 oz of a sports drink (with electrolytes and carbohydrates)
5:45 pm (15 minutes before): 6 oz of a sports drink

During workout: 20 to 24 oz of a sports drink
? 4 oz during every break
? 12 to 16 oz halfway through

Post-Workout Recovery
Replace fluids lost through sweat. Weigh yourself before and after, multiply the number of pounds lost by 16 to determine how many ounces to drink. E.g., if you lost 2 pounds, drink 32 oz

With dinner: 8 oz

Evening: 16 oz

A.J. Hawk, LB, Green Bay Packers: "My hydration plan is an all-day thing, because if you start (hydrating) when you get out to practice, it's too late. You're probably going to cramp up by the middle or end of practice."

Make Some Good Habits

  • Carry and regularly sip from a water bottle.
  • Stop for a drink whenever you see a water fountain.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables that have high water content.

Break Some Bad Ones

  • Limit or avoid soda and caffeine.

Check out the Summer Daily Nutrition Plan for fueling guidelines to maintain energy, build muscle and recover properly.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock