Importance of proper hydration during exercise

Staying hydrated is particularly important during exercise. Adequate fluid intake is essential to comfort, performance and safety. The longer and more intensely you exercise, the more important it is to drink the right kind of fluids.

Dehydration Decreases Performance
Studies have found that athletes who lose as little as two percent of their body weight through sweating has a drop in blood volume which causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood. A drop in blood volume may also lead to muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue and heat illness including:
Heat Exhaustion
Heat Stroke

Common Causes of Dehydration In Athletes
Inadequate fluid intake
Excessive sweating
Failure to replace fluid losses during and after exercise
Exercising in dry, hot weather
Drinking only when thirsty

Hydration Needs for Athletes
Because there is wide variability in sweat rates, losses and hydration levels of individuals, it is nearly impossible to provide specific recommendations or guidelines about the type or amount of fluids athletes should consume.

Finding the right amount of fluid to drink depends upon a variety of individual factors including the length and intensity of exercise and other individual differences. There are, however, two simple methods of estimating adequate hydration:

Monitoring urine volume output and color.
A large amount of light colored, diluted urine probably means you are hydrated; dark colored, concentrated urine probably means you are dehydrated.

Weighing yourself before and after exercise.
Any weight lost is likely from fluid, so try to drink enough to replenish those losses. Any weight gain could mean you are drinking more than you need.

Exercising in the heat increases you fluid losses through sweating and exercise in the cold can impair you ability to recognize fluid losses and increase fluid lost through respiration. In both cases it is important to hydrate.
Sweating. Some athletes sweat more than others. If you sweat a lot you are at greater risk for dehydration. Again, weigh yourself before and after exercise to judge sweat loss.

Sports Drinks?
Sports drinks can be helpful to athletes who are exercising at a high intensity for 60 minutes or more. Fluids supplying 60 to 100 calories per 8 ounces helps to supply the needed calories required for continuous performance. It’s really not necessary to replace losses of sodium, potassium and other electrolytes during exercise since you’re unlikely to deplete your body’s stores of these minerals during normal training. If, however, you find yourself exercising in extreme conditions over 3 or 5 hours (a marathon, Ironman or ultramarathon, for example) you may likely want to add a complex sports drink with electrolytes.

General Guidelines for Fluid Needs During Exercise
While specific fluid recommendations aren’t possible due to individual variability, most athletes can use the following guidelines as a starting point, and modify their fluid needs accordingly.

Hydration Before Exercise
Drink about 15-20 fl oz, 2-3 hours before exercise
Drink 8-10 fl oz 10-15 min before exercise

Hydration During Exercise
Drink 8-10 fl oz every 10-15 min during exercise
If exercising longer than 90 minutes, drink 8-10 fl oz of a sports drink (with no more than 8 percent carbohydrate) every 15 – 30 minutes.

Hydration After Exercise
Weigh yourself before and after exercise and replace fluid losses.
Drink 20-24 fl oz water for every 1 lb lost.
Consume a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein within the 2 hours after exercise to replenish glycogen stores.

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Benefits of reducing sugar in my diet

As a full-time martial arts instructor I’m very conscious of the things I eat and drink, but as I’ve got progressively  busier with work and had less time between classes I’d started to snack on chocolate and tea or coffee had become an excuse to eat cakes & biscuits 4 to 5 times a day.

3 weeks ago (just after accumulating another easter egg mountain) I decided to see what would happen if I stopped eating cakes, biscuits and chocolate for 1 week.

No chocolate, no cakes, no biscuits, tea with milk (no sugar), café late (1 sugar).

I’m amazed at how quickly I started to feel the effects.  I wasn’t feeling desperately tired all day (for the first time in my life) and had even stopped falling asleep on the tube journeys between classes.
My energy levels became much higher and more constant, and I generally felt a lot better in myself.

Feeling so good decided to continue for another week.

I used to drink really strong tea but now think this was because of the sugar overpowering the taste of the tea itself.  I’ve now started drinking a much lighter tea without milk and have to say it’s far more refreshing.

One other thing, I’d started to sleep very lightly and started waking an hour earlier in the morning (although I wasn’t convinced this was related).

I quite simply don’t like the taste of anything with too much sugar in it now.

I’m now sleeping deeply again, waking up earlier, naturally, and for the first time I can remember, feeling completely refreshed after a good nights sleep!

I think I’d fallen into the trap of believing that I could eat anything and everything just because I was training so much.  I now believe the extreme energy spikes that were making me seek a ‘sugar hit’ were actually caused by an excessive sugar intake in the first place.

There’s no way I want to go back to feeling so tired so I’m going to continue with this.  I still have the occasional sweet snack now and then but am struggling to find something that doesn’t taste like sugar is the main ingredient…

I know 3 weeks isn’t a long time so will update this post should I notice anything else.  Finally, if anyone out there wants ask a question or wishes to add something to this then please ‘Leave a Reply’.

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