Now that we are in the heart of summer, it has become more important than ever to be properly hydrated. Muscle tissue is about 75% water. So it is not hard to see how important proper hydration is to muscle growth. Further, the main way the body loses fluids during exercise is through sweat. Anyone who’s been to the box so far this summer will tell you that there is not a dry brow or t-shirt in the house. We have all left our share of DNA on the bar or the floor. Since its not getting any cooler, it is time to get smart about proper hydration practices!
Everyone has heard the age-old “8 glasses of water a day” recommendation, but is that enough? What about when it’s hot and you are leaving sweat angels all over the box? What about for athletes who work out multiple times a day?
The amount of fluid you need depends on the intensity and duration of the activity as well as the environmental conditions (such as humidity). So here are some tips for proper hydration to keep you peeing all day long!
- One of the best ways to keep from becoming dehydrated is to be hydrated before you begin your workout. To ensure proper hydration, you should drink 17-20 ounces 2 to 3 hours before exercise and 7 to 10 oz more about 10 to 20 minutes before exercise. I like to drink water and use a pre-workout drink such as Progenex Force or Vitargo for added carbohydrates.
- During the workout it is recommended that you drink 7 to 10 oz. every 10 to 20 minutes. This is assuming you are already well hydrated when you start your workout. Since it may be challenging to drink that much during a WOD, you can try drinking smaller amounts more frequently. Also, our workouts are rarely longer than 25 minutes and generally consist of multiple components, so think about drinking when you are transitioning (e.g., between intensity and strength etc.)
- Post exercise hydration should aim to correct any fluid loss. This should ideally occur within two hours and should include water to restore hydration status, carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores, and electrolytes to speed rehydration.
- Water is good, but after sweating, the body also needs to replace sodium, potassium and chloride. Consider a natural drink such as coconut water to replace these nutrients.
- During exercising, there is an increased breakdown of protein. Adding protein to your post workout routine will minimize muscle protein breakdown and speed up recovery. I like a scoop of protein powder with almond milk or coconut water post WOD for a blend of protein and carbs.
- If you supplement with creatine, you will need to add extra water to your regimen while supplementing (Creatine works by drawing more water into the muscle cells).
- If you are having trouble drinking enough water throughout the day, mark your bottle with time goals you must reach (e.g., 8 ounces by 9am, 16 oz by 12 etc.).
- Stay away from energy drinks. These are bad news in terms of staying hydrated.
- Cool beverages are recommended over very cold or room temperature.
Warning signs of dehydration:
- Thirst is a big one. Unfortunately, if you are thirsty, chances are you are already dehydrated.
- Keep an eye on the color of your urine. Dark colored urine or low volume are both signs of trouble. If you have 2 nearly clear urinations a day, chances are you are properly hydrated.
- Heat cramps: symptoms such as excessive sweating, fatigue, thirst and cramps (usually in the stomach arms and legs). Can usually be treated by drinking water or fluids containing electrolytes.
- Heat exhaustion occurs when you don’t act on the signs of heat cramps and your condition worsens. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, light- headedness, and muscle cramps. Can also be treated by drinking fluids.
Now that you are more aware of proper hydration, I expect to see you in the box sipping away or waiting in line for the bathroom!
For more detailed information about proper hydration check out the National Athletic Trainers’ Position Statement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes