5 Essential Hydration Facts All Athletes Should Know About
5 Essential Hydration Facts All Athletes Should Know About
Competing, or taking part in sporting events? Make sure to optimise your hydration.
Endurance athletes taking part in longer competitions are more prone to dehydration. That being said, all athletes should ensure that they consume enough of the right kind of water. Dehydration can negatively impact your performance on both a physical and mental level.
You can’t rely on feeling thirsty when it comes to hydrating your body as an athlete.
The main reason is that exercise suppresses thirst. So even though you’ll be losing a lot of water through sweating, you might not know it because your body won’t signal thirst while you’re exercising. So what should you do?
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
When it comes to athletes, the need for hydration becomes more prevalent. What if drinking the right amount and the best kind of water (not protein shakes, supplements, etc.) is the key to boosting your athletic performance?
While practice, nutrition, sleep and lifestyle play a huge role in your ability to excel in any given sport, hydration is always the foundation. The aim of this article is to enhance your water IQ, so that you can take your game to the next level.
What is Your Water I.Q?
Water is the world’s most important resource, and certainly the most precious resource for human life. So it pays to know as much as you can about it.
We are blessed if we have access to proper water and sanitation, as 6 out of 10 people around the world don’t have access to proper sanitation.
Did you know that up to 95% of waste water is released back into the environment? In developed countries the figure is closer to 80%. This just goes to show how polluted our waters are becoming.
Meaning that we need to ensure we’re consuming the freshest water possible when looking to boost athletic performance. That means either sourcing pure spring water or filtering your tap water.
1. Some Foods Have a High Water Content
Although drinking pure water is optimal, you don’t need to drink plain water to be hydrated. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain lots of water, and are a great option for athletes.
While you can hydrate with a wide range of fluids, you do need to be aware of other compounds in your food and drinks. Making sure to steer clear of dehydrating fatty or dry foods; opting for foods that are filled with water will boost your water intake.
There is 85-96% water in fresh whole foods such as cucumber, celery, tomatoes, oranges and melons. Approximately 22% of your water comes from your food intake.
2. Water is Required for Digestion
Water helps to transport nutrients throughout the body. Many vitamins are water soluble, for example all B vitamins and vitamin C. As such, these vitamins have a higher requirement for water.
Vitamin C is also used alongside water to clear out waste products and conduct enzymatic reactions in the body.
3. Water Lubricates Your Joints
Strenuous exercise can take its toll on your joints. For this reason, it is important to drink enough water.
Water removes acidic byproducts such as uric acid and cellular waste, which if left can cause inflammation and pain.
Water is also used to provide cushioning in your spine. When exercising, water is used up quickly by all of the organs in your body and especially your joints.
4. Athletes Must Replenish Water Stores
Did you know that up to 10% of the body’s water content gets replaced each day? In fact, up to 3 litres are lost each day through sweating, urination and breathing, making daily water replenishment essential. Especially for athletes.
5. Weighing In Can Determine Water Loss
When exercising, your body sweats to prevent overheating. Exercise produces heat, that is transferred to the skin and sweat is evaporated to produce a cooling effect. This is known as thermoregulation.
If you don’t drink any water when you work out (not advisable in warm weather, or indeed ever), then you can weigh yourself before and after an hour of strenuous exercise to measure the rough amount of water lost.
1lb equates to roughly 450ml. A loss of 2lb will result in reduced athletic performance.
Why Do Athletes Become Dehydrated?
An unprepared athlete might overlook the importance of drinking water and keeping hydrated during exercise. Carrying water with you at all times should be a must for any athlete.
Also, some sports drinks can cause nausea which can prevent an athlete from drinking enough water. In this case, it is often due to the high concentration of electrolytes or flavourings.
It’s advisable for an athlete to drink 500ml to 1 litre per hour while exercising.
3 Famous Hydration Quotes
To be at the top of your game, you need to make hydration a priority. These two athletes and one wellness guru have pretty much summed up how critical water is to your performance.
“As an athlete you’ve got to watch your hydration and your nutrition, and use the right kinds of fuel to help you perform your best.” – Derrick Brooks, former NFL linebacker
“Running back-to-back races requires a certain tactical prudence. Going too hard in any one race might jeopardise your performance in another. Maintaining proper hydration and caloric equilibrium also becomes increasingly critical.” – Dean Karnazes, American ultramarathon runner
“When a body is in an alkaline state, it avoids disease, but when it’s in an acidic state – where you’re eating a lot of processed foods, meat, dairy – you’re not going to have that hydration in your body, and you’re not going to have that ability to fight off disease, and it’s going to impact your immune system and the inflammation in your body too.” – Vani Hari, Food Babe
The Bottom Line
The amount of water required daily differs depending on metabolism, activity levels, age and environment. Strenuous exercise quickly uses up the body’s water reserves and needs replenished to optimise performance.
If you exercise in warm climates, you’ll begin to feel weak without drinking adequate water. Dehydration can be fatal to athletes who neglect the critical importance of hydration.
Further reading: Sports Nutrition for Athletes – Top Foods to Fuel Performance
Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.