Maintaining hydration is crucial for athletes, as it plays a significant role in athletic performance. Proper hydration is vital that it can even be the difference between winning and losing. Being hydrated before, during, and after the competition is necessary for athletes to perform at their best.
Water is essential for hydrating the human body and plays a vital role in many bodily functions. For example, Mayo Clinic explains that water makes up approximately 50-70% of an adult's body weight. Water aids in the digestion of food, preventing constipation and maintaining regularity. Water also helps to eliminate toxins from important organs, and transports nutrients to cells.
How Much Water Should I Drink While Exercising?
There are no hard and fast rules for how much water to consume while working out since everyone is different. Instead, you should consider your sweat rate, the heat, humidity, length, and activity intensity.
The American Council on Exercise has offered the following basic rules for drinking water before and during exercise:
- Drink 17-20 ounces of water two to three hours before exercise
- During exercising, drink 7-10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes.
To figure out how much water you need, athletes may want to track their fluid intake during exercise. You should drink 16-24 ounces of fluids for every pound lost due to sweat during exercise. A good way of doing this is by weighing yourself before working out and after exercising.
Signs of Dehydration
Dehydration happens when you lose more fluid than you drink. When your body isn't properly hydrated, it can impact performance. Dehydration can range from mild to severe, and symptoms of dehydration can include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Dark urine
- Decreased athletic performance
- Muscle cramps
If you are experiencing any of these signs, it may be a sign that you are dehydrated. However, there could be other reasons for these symptoms. The best way to do this is by drinking water or an electrolyte-rich beverage such as sports drinks. You should also eat foods high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables. Some examples of water-rich fruits and vegetables include watermelons, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwis, grapes, celery, and spinach.
The Advantages of Hydration for an Athlete
- Improve performance. When adequately hydrated, your body functions at its best. Staying hydrated can boost energy levels, improve aerobic endurance and increase strength.
- Minimize risk of injuries. Dehydration can lead to cramping and muscle fatigue, which increases your risk of injuries. Water is also involved in the repair process for cartilage tears and tissue injuries.
- Faster recovery. Proper hydration helps your body recover from exercise more quickly. Proper hydration means you will be able to train harder and more often without feeling as much soreness or fatigue.
- Support gut health and digestion. Water plays an essential role in healthy digestion. According to research by Mayo Clinic, water helps your body break down food to allow nutrients to be absorbed into the small and large intestines.
- Promote healthy brain function. A recent clinical study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health looks at the effect of dehydration on brain health and cognitive performance. The study concluded that the dehydrated participants noticed a decrease in memory and energy levels.
Now that you know that water is an essential component for athletes to reach their peak performance goals. You can maintain hydration by drinking water before, during, and after exercise to ensure that you perform your best. In addition, proper hydration will help you feel more energized and reduce post-exercise fatigue, meaning you can train harder and more often. So stay hydrated and make sure to drink up!