Providing our body the correct amount of water and electrolytes will assure our best performance. This is accomplished in three ways: pre-exercise, during the event and post-exercise.
Pre-exercise consumption should be up to 12 hrs prior to the event with slow consumption at least 4 hours prior to exercising ( you don’t want to feel too full and maintain maximum hydration). A good test to see if you are getting enough water is to make sure the urine is a straw color, not to dark or clear). If you know you’re a heavy sweater or are exercising in hot and humid conditions, eat some salty foods.
During the exercise activity, drinking 8 oz/hour is recommended. You want to try and replace the amount of water and electrolytes lost during this time frame. The average is about 8 oz/hour and should contain the two most important electrolytes, Sodium (Na) and Potassium (K) at a rate of 115-172 mg, and 20-48 mg, respectively. The exact rate will vary depending on how much you sweat and climate conditions. An accurate way of determining how much water you lose is to weight yourself without clothes before and then after. For every pound lost is equal to 1 liter of water (including the lose of Na and K). Remember, the level of dehydration is losing more than 2% of your body weight.
For post-exercise hydration, drink the volume of water lost and include electrolyte replacement. Getting back the lost electrolytes is just as crucial. We tend to think that the water replacement is the only thing needed, this is not so. If we drink only water during and/or after exercising, we run the risk of hyponatrema, low Na in the blood. This will cause swelling in the brain, lethargy and unconsciousness; a deadly mixture! You can re-hydrate by drinking sports drinks. You can also drink just plain water and eat some salty foods. Complete re-hydration takes about 12 hours.
Next blog I’ll discuss various sport drinks.
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