Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | June 4, 2014

10 Nutrition and Hydration Tips – #3: Drink Adequate Fluids during a Workout or Competition

As an endurance athlete, you expect to sweat a lot. After all, you’re working hard, sometimes in hot and humid conditions. That means you need to drink enough fluids to replace the water lost through perspiration. Failure to do so can lead to dehydration, which has a dramatic, negative effect on athletic performance. Dehydration of only 2% of your total body weight can impair your performance. Dehydration of 5% can reduce your work output by as much as 10%. Therefore, it is imperative that you take in enough fluids during workouts, events and competitions. To make sure you stay properly hydrated, follow these 4 steps:

  1. Determine your hydration needs. Generally speaking, you should drink 4-8 oz of fluid every 15 minutes, depending upon your sweat rate. For most people, this adds up to about one bottle per hour (more on a hot, humid day).
  2. Decide what you will drink for a particular workout or competition. For events or workouts that last an hour or less, water is sufficient. For endurance exercise that lasts over an hour, use a sports drink to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes. You have many different choices so experiment with a variety of drinks to see which work best for you.
  3. Weigh yourself before and after workouts. This serves two purposes. First, it helps you determine your sweat rate. A 60 minute workout is a good indicator.  If you weigh two pounds less after your workout then you are down about 32 ounces of water. Second, it helps you determine how much fluid you need to drink per hour. In this instance, your objective for future workouts (in similar heat and humidity conditions) is to drink 32 ounces of fluid/hour. Frankly, you won’t drink that much so make sure you drink lots of fluid immediately after your workout. Remember, your goal is to weigh the same after your post-workout hydration as you did before the workout.
  4. Drink before you are thirsty. Don’t wait until your body signals that the dehydration process has already started (i.e., thirst). Get in the habit of drinking small amounts of fluid on a consistent basis.

NEXT POST – June 8, 2014

Cycle Log: Competition Phase 2014 – Week 7


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