Dehydration can be quite overbearing; whether you are a weekend warrior, or an advanced athlete. In this article we will offer you several tips and avenues on how to avoid dehydration as best as possible. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), fluid and electrolyte needs are widely variable during physical exercise due to differences in metabolic rate, body mass, environmental conditions, heat acclimatization status, physical fitness, activity duration, and genetic variability (Casa, 2005, p. 115). There are many factors that affect hydration status before, during, and more importantly afterwards. Recovery is one of the most important processes that takes place and will be greatly hindered if proper hydration statues isn’t returned to normal promptly. Sweating is the bodies natural defense against overheating through the means of evaporation. The evaporation of sweat off of your skin is what helps heat radiate off your body. The down side is that you lose important electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium which are essential in a lot of processes in the body. You need to sip on water all day when training volumes are high and temps are even higher.
There are different methods to measuring your dehydration status, the two fundamental methods that we will talk about is weight management and urine monitoring. Recording your weight before and after will indicate whether or not you have lost a large amount of water. Weight loss greater than 1 percent can adversely affect performance, and weight loss of 3 percent of body weight or more after activity greatly increases the risk of heat illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke, which can be life threatening (Larkin, 2014). Dehydration provokes changes in blood volume, which can affect cardiovascular, thermoregulatory, metabolic, and central nervous function that become increasingly greater as dehydration worsens (Larkin, 2014). Essentially making any sport or exercise exertion levels tenfold as you become increasingly dehydrated. Hydration needs are very different on an individualistic basis so it is imperative that you find what works best for your body’s demands. There are many different recommendations for fluid consumption before during and after exercise or competitions. Individuals should drink approximately 20 to 24 oz of water or sports drink per pound of weight loss within two hours of exercise or athletic events (Binkley 2000). Sipping on water or an electrolyte drink will help reduce your chance of dehydration and help increase performance.
Hydration replacements such as Gatorade and PowerAde are great if your body does not have a problem processing all of the sugar and chemicals inside them. For some reason or another Gatorade and PowerAde will work for some and for others it destroys their Gastrointestinal Tract. (G.I.) For people with delicate G.I.’s have no fear there are plenty of options such as, Skratch, Gu Brew, Nuun, Nathan, Skoop, Coconut water, FLuid, UCan, Clif hydration and much more. Biggest take way is find what works and remember to carry out plan of action in preparation of your next training day or race. Another great reference for fluid replacement recommendations is by an organization called National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA)- http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/FluidReplacementsForAthletes.pdf they have their own position statement on hydration as well.
Binkley, HM, Beckett, J, Casa, DJ, Kleiner, DM, and Plummer, PE. National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes. Journal of Athletic Training 35(2):212-224, 2000. (Binkley 2000)
Casa, D., Clarkson, P., & Roberts, W. (2005). American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable on Hydration and Physical Activity: Consensus Statements. American College of Sports Medicine, (4), 115-127. Retrieved November 15, 2014. http://www.acsm.org/docs/publications/Roundtable%20on%20Hydration%20and%20Physical%20Activity.pdf (Casa, 2005, p. 115)
Larkin, S. (2014, May 1). Beat the Heat – Combat Dehydration. Retrieved August 5, 2014. http://www.nsca.com/Education/Articles/Hot-Topic–Beat-the-Heat—Combat-Dehydration/ (Larkin, 2014)