Staying on the cutting edge of fitness is crucial for a competitive athlete to remain at the top of the game, whether it’s football, cross country, basketball, or boxing. Strong muscles, high endurance, and healthy hearts go a long way in taking them to the finish line.
Getting proper fluids—including plenty of water—is a big part of keeping athletes fit on the field or in the gym. Not only does it enhance athletic performance, but it sharpens mental focus and boosts immune health, which are also key to winning. Athletes must know when and how to hydrate to make the most of their performance skills.
Know When You’re Dehydrated
Did you know the body is made of 50-65% water? No wonder it’s so important to hydrate, especially when participating in sports. When you don’t drink enough water you begin to experience symptoms like headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, poor appetite, and cramping. Urine is likely to turn darker the more dehydrated you become, too. The best rule of thumb? The lighter the better.
How Much Water You Should Drink?
In normal circumstances, a person should drink half of their body weight in ounces daily. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to drink 75 ounces of water throughout the day. If it’s hot or humid, it’s a good idea to bump that number up.
If you’re an athlete in training, you should consume 16 to 24 ounces of fluids for every pound lost in sweat. To find out what your number is, weigh before and after your workout to determine how much you typically lose in sweat.
When to Hydrate With Sports Drinks
Sports drinks provide carbohydrates and electrolytes lost through sweat when working out. Consumed along with water, the best time to hydrate with sports drinks is before, during, and after competition. This is referred to as the 3-H Rule: Drink when Hot. Drink when workouts are Hard. Drink when workouts are longer than an Hour.
Your muscles need carbohydrates for energy, and sports drinks help provide those before an event. Sports drinks are also great for those morning practices when skipping breakfast.
Sports drinks are a smart way to hydrate during exercise lasting 90 or more minutes and may even help athletes perform longer and more effectively.
Replace fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat after a workout with a sports drink. For full recovery, add food and other fluids that provide additional nutritional support.
Watch the Sugar
Regular sports drinks are high in sugar, so avoid drinking them when at rest. It’s much better to hydrate with water throughout the day, adding in other beverages like milk for nutritional benefits.