Feeling thirsty? The Effects Hydration Has On Your Fitness.
From heat to humidity to dehydration, staying properly hydrated can sometimes seem like a lot of work.
In Florida, we take hydration very seriously. Dehydration can lead to worse effects than a poor workout, so knowing exactly when and what to drink will help you get enough liquids. Remember, in this type of environment, your body sweats a lot and can easily become dehydrated.
In this article, we’ll explore the reasons for proper hydration and will help you achieve your liquid goals with a few tips and tricks to get the most out of your beverages while working out!
First, you may be wondering why is hydration important in fitness?
Fluid replacement during exercise is necessary in order to maintain normal muscle function and prevent performance decreases due to dehydration. During exercise, sweat loss rates are often higher than what you can drink, so most athletes get into fluid deficit.
However, it may be possible to drink too much during exercise, so getting to know your sweat rate is equally important as knowing how much to drink. There are many fitness facilities that will test your sweat rate and will be able to recommend an optimal amount to drink.
Why is it dangerous to work out while dehydrated?
As dehydration increases, there will be an overall decrease in physical and mental performance. Body temperature will rise and heart rate will rise, and you will suffer more when exercising in the heat.
An athlete who is dehydrated more than 2% (which is very easy to do in a hot and humid environment) of their body weight may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems during exercise.
Dehydration may decrease blood volume, decrease skin blood flow, decrease sweat rate, decrease heat dissipation, increase body temperature, and lead to higher glycogen use. Working out while dehydrated can lead to muscular problems, heat stroke, and even cardiac arrest.
So what is the proper amount of liquid to stay hydrated in a hot and humid climate?
While it is possible to drink too much, most of us are on the other end of that spectrum and wind up dehydrated.
But your sweat rate can determine the amount of liquid you should drink during exercise. Dietitians regularly measure sweat rates of athletes in a range of environments, so they know how much liquid they should consume using this information to design an individual fluid plan.
If you don’t have access to a sports dietician for these purposes, you can weigh yourself right before and right after exercising. The amount of weight loss is predominantly water (not fat). Therefore, it should be replaced soon after finishing the exercise (or during).
How to hydrate.
Because the body loses micronutrients through sweat during exercise (or in hot climates), they need to be replaced with electrolyte drinks for athletes. Stay away from sugary beverages like Gatorade and Powerade and opt for special formulations for athletes like Biosteel, Nuun, or eLoad. If you use protein powder regularly, your favorite brand of protein probably also has an electrolyte drink you can consume during or after exercising to replace these micronutrients.
Staying properly hydrated doesn’t have to be a chore, either! Here are some ways to trick yourself into drinking more water by finding ways you enjoy consuming it:
- Try carrying around a 1L water bottle that you need to finish in the morning and afternoon.
- Always drink a glass of water right when you wake up and before you have any caffeinated drinks.
- Add some fizz or some fruit like lemons or limes to your water for a more enjoyable drinking experience.
Another tip: you always want to have some water at least 30 minutes before you start your workout, too.
Benefits of hydration.
There are many benefits of being properly hydrated, including:
- Improved athletic performance.
- Your body will be able to recover faster and will use water to deliver important nutrients to cells throughout your body.
- You will have fewer headaches,
- You will feel less nauseous after sports (if that was a problem for you)
- You will have improved sleep at night.
Remember, dehydration negatively impacts performance in these ways: loss of coordination, impaired ability to make a decision, increased rate of perceived exertion, and risk of heat stress. For optimal health; try to match your fluid intake to the sweat rate as closely as possible.
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