Hydration for Sport Performance
In the summer months hydration becomes a critical factor for sports performance. The hotter and more humid the weather is the more fluid you will lose and subsequently need to replace. Dehydration cannot only affect your performance on the field but can also potentially lead to things like heart attacks, stroke, and even death if not managed properly. One of things that I was always taught was that thirst is the least effective indicator of dehydration. When you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated to some degree.
Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium play a crucial role in your body’s ability to function. They help muscles contract and nerves conduct in a coordinated manner. Therefore any disturbance in that electrolyte balance can hinder performance on the field.
The question of which is better water or Gatorade is a tough one. For most people in most situations water is just fine to replace fluids lost during a workout or a game. Sports drinks like Gatorade have excess sugar that is just not necessary for performance. However, sports drinks do help replace electrolytes lost and give added calories for energy. If you were in a situation where food is not readily available like in the middle of a game then Gatorade would be the better option. Also, if you were in extreme circumstances such as 90 plus degree weather or high humidity then Gatorade would be a better option. If you don’t like the taste of water and need something that will cause you to drink more fluids than Gatorade would be a better option for you as well.
To monitor your hydration status there are a couple of things you can do. First is to weigh yourself before a practice or game and then again after. Each pound lost during that event is equal to 1 pint or half a liter of fluid. This needs to be replaces before the next practice or event. Often an athlete can lose weight during a season and they can attribute this to being in shape. However, be aware of chronic dehydration. Fat loss does not happen that quickly where you will lose 5-10 pounds in a matter of weeks. If this seems like a lot of work for you there is another way in which you can monitor your hydration status. You can monitor your urine. If your urine is dark in color then you are dehydrated. Replace fluids until your urine is a lighter color similar to lemon juice.
Pre-Game: Before a sporting event where you know it will be hot and humid you should drink at least 16 ounces of fluids an hour or two before the event. The colder the fluid the better it is for keeping your body temperature down.
In-Game: During a training session or game you should drink as often as possible. Your goal should be 6-8 ounces every 15 minutes.
Post-Game: After the event remember to monitor your hydration status and replace fluids lost. Every pound you lose needs to be replaced before competing again.
Keep these tips in mind and you can dominate your workouts this summer.
Joe Lopez C.S.C.S.