Fluids and Hydration

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How important are fluids?

Fluid replacement is probably the most important nutritional

concern for athletes. Approximately 60% of your body weight is

water. As you exercise, fluid is lost through your skin as sweat and

through your lungs when you breathe. If this fluid is not replaced

at regular intervals during exercise, you can become dehydrated.

When you are dehydrated, you have a smaller volume of blood

circulating through your body. Consequently, the amount of blood

your heart pumps with each beat decreases and your exercising

muscles do not receive enough oxygen from your blood. Soon

exhaustion sets in and your athletic performance suffers.

If you have lost as little as 2% of your body weight due to

dehydration, it can adversely affect your athletic performance. For

example, if you are a 150-pound athlete and you lose 3 pounds

during a workout, your performance will start to suffer unless you

replace the fluid you have lost. Proper fluid replacement is the key

to preventing dehydration and reducing the risk of heat injury

during training and competition.

How can I prevent dehydration?

The best way to prevent dehydration is to maintain body fluid

levels by drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after a

workout or race. Often athletes are not aware that they are losing

body fluid or that their performance is being impacted by

dehydration.

If you are not sure how much fluid to drink, you can monitor your

hydration using one of these methods.

1.Weight: Weigh yourself before practice and again after practice.

For every pound you lose during the workout you will need to

drink 2 cups of fluid to rehydrate your body.

2.Urine color: Check the color of your urine. If it is a dark gold color

like apple juice, you are dehydrated. If you are well hydrated, the

color of your urine will look like pale lemonade.

Thirst is not an accurate indicator of how much fluid you have lost.

If you wait until you are thirsty to replenish body fluids, then you

are already dehydrated. Most people do not become thirsty until

they have lost more than 2% of their body weight. And if you only

drink enough to quench your thirst, you may still be dehydrated.

Keep a water bottle available when working out and drink as often

as you want, ideally every 15 to 30 minutes. High school and junior

high school athletes can bring a water bottle to school and drink

between classes and during breaks so they show up at workouts

hydrated.

What about sport drinks?

Researchers have found that sports drinks containing between 6%

and 8% carbohydrate (sugars) are absorbed into the body as

rapidly as water and can provide energy to working muscles that

water cannot. This extra energy can delay fatigue and possibly

improve performance, particularly if the sport lasts longer than 1

hour. If you drink a sports drink, you can maintain your blood

sugar level even when the sugar stored in your muscles (glycogen)

is running low. This allows your body to continue to produce

energy at a high rate.

Drinks containing less than 5% carbohydrate do not provide

enough energy to improve your performance. So, athletes who

dilute sports drink are most likely not getting enough energy from

their drink to maintain a good blood sugar level. Drinking

beverages that exceed a 10% carbohydrate level (most soda pop

and some fruit juices) often have negative side effects such as

abdominal cramps, nausea, and diarrhea and can hurt your

performance.

What does the sodium in sports drinks do?

Sodium is an electrolyte needed to help maintain proper fluid

balance in your body. Sodium helps your body absorb and retain

more water. Researchers have found that the fluid from an 8-ounce

serving of a sports...
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