Drinking fluids before, during and after exercise is essential to keep the body properly hydrated. If fluids are not replaced, poor performance results. Dehydration as a result of inadequate fluid replacement is a common contributor to poor performance. A frequent symptom of dehydration is fatigue and with this goes a risk of injuries.
The reason for the dehydration is explained easily. With exercise, body temperature increases, and sweating results. Sweat evaporates from the skin and the body cools down. Once dehydration sets in, there are not enough fluids left for sweating to occur and the heat build up cannot escape.
Believe it or not, sweating not only occurs in warm weather, it occurs in cold weather and in the water. To stay well hydrated no matter what your exercise is, you must have adequate fluid. Endurance athletes (marathon runners, triathletes) involved in physical activity for more than an hour can produce up to three quarts of sweat per hour a loss of six pounds of body weight.
1 lb weight loss = 2 cups water (with exercise)
An average person, not physically active, should drink eight to ten glasses of fluid per day. When you exercise, even just gardening or walking the dog, you will need more. Drinks with caffeine or alcohol act as diuretics and are not good choices for fluid replacement.
Water is always an excellent choice for the recreational athlete. It is a good replacement for exercise lasting an hour or less. It is more quickly absorbed than juices or sports drinks, and cool fluids will be absorbed most efficiently.
The more you sweat, the more fluids you need. A good test is to weigh yourself before and after exercise. This will tell you how much fluid you have lost. Remember, this is fluid, not fat. Fat loss will be seen over time. To rehydrate your body, the rule is to drink two cups of fluid for every pound lost.
Sip on water or dilute fluids during exercise. Large amounts of fluid at any one time may cause bloating and discomfort. Athletes involved in competition or training for longer than one hour may benefit by using cool sports drinks. These beverages provide both a fluid replacement and a source of fuel for the body.
To Prevent Dehydration*
* Adapted from the Dairy Nutrition Council of Alberta, Sport Nutrition Pamphlet
For endurance exercise lasting one hour or more, the ideal fluid replacement is absorbed rapidly by the body, does not cause discomfort, and provides energy to working muscles.
Beverages containing 2.5 to 10 per cent carbohydrate per 100 ml of prepared drink are beneficial. Choose one that tastes good so you look forward to drinking it. These drinks generally contain a small amount of sodium that helps your body absorb carbohydrate. Salt tablets are not necessary and are not recommended.
(Do not alter the portions in this recipe)
Keep in mind that both water and sports drinks can be taken during physical activity lasting less than one hour as well. A sports drink may be a better choice if it means you will be more likely to drink adequate amounts of fluid.
Whether your athletic activities are recreational or competitive, fluids are necessary for optimal performance. It is essential to drink water before, during and after exercise to replace fluids lost as sweat. Sports drinks are beneficial for endurance events lasting more than one hour. They should offer a carbohydrate and sodium source in appropriate amounts, and they should have a pleasant taste. Feeling good during your workout can make or break the gym experience. So, have a few drinks . . . enjoy! Doesn't it make your mouth water?