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The Importance of Hydration & Exercise Part 2

hydration
Hydration Strategies

It’s easy to stay hydrated when you aren’t exercising. Meeting your basic fluid demands simply requires matching your intake with your expenditure.

For most people, approximately 2L of water per day in addition to food related fluid intake is sufficient (we get approximately 1L of water from food).

A diet high in water-containing whole foods makes it simple to ingest plenty of fluid form food. Water-containing foods include mainly fruits and vegetables.

There are several signs used to determine whether or not you are properly hydrated. Easily recognizable signs of dehydration are determined by the color of your urine or your thirst level.

Use the following chart to see how hydrated you are according to what color your urine is.

Water Hydration Before Exercise

Typically, if you are thirsty your body has already reached a state of dehydration. Many people think of replacing lost water after they have been sweating heavily, or after completing their workout.

However, it is very important to begin the hydration process before water is lost.

This “pre-hydration” ensures that anyone performing physical activity is well-hydrated with normal electrolyte levels.

Electrolytes: are minerals such as sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium that carry an electrical charge when dissolved in water. Maintaining proper electrolyte balance is critical for normal physiological function.

It is important to consume about 500 mL of fluid about 30 minutes before exercise.

Water Hydration During Exercise

During exercise, fluid and electrolyte replacement is the goal. This prevents excessive dehydration and electrolyte changes that might decrease performance.

It is important to consume approximately 250 mL every 15 minutes during exercise. This amount will depend on body size, ambient temperature of the workout environment, and the intensity of the training.

In addition, do not use “thirst” as an indicator of when to drink water. Thirst usually isn’t perceived until 1-2% of bodyweight is lost and is a sign of dehydration. At this point during exercising, performance will decrease.

The ideal beverage to use for hydrating during exercise should contain a low concentration (6-8%) of carbohydrates and electrolytes. A common sports drink will do.

Water Hydration After Exercise

After exercise, fluid intake is necessary to assist in recovery.

If athletes don’t sufficiently replace fluid, the sodium and carbohydrate losses experienced during exercise prevents them from returning to a

  • hydrated state
  • stimulate excessive urine production
  • and, delay recovery

Typically, a more concentrated solution of 10-12% can be ingested at this time, providing approximately 0.8 g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight in 500 mL – 1 L of water.

For example, to get a 10% solution:

Most commercial sport drinks contain electrolytes as well as carbohydrates.

In Closing

Exercise intensity and duration both determine hydration strategies.

Moderate intensity recreational exercise doesn’t require the aggressive hydration and recovery strategies.

These strategies are designed for optimal results in more extreme situations of fluid loss and exercise intensity.

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