Hydration Tips For Summer
With the heat and humidity increasing quickly in the Chicagoland area, many parents and coaches are concerned about the hydration status of their athletes. And for good reason! As the school year winds down and summer sports and training camps begin, it can be difficult for athletes to stay on top of their hydration game. Nevertheless, understanding your body's fluid and electrolyte needs is a crucial component of any serious athlete's nutrition plan as hydration plays a key role in athletic performance.
Both fluids and electrolytes play vital roles in nearly every body system and metabolic process. For example, water is a crucial component of thermoregulation; meaning that fluids allow the body to cool itself by sweating during times of prolonged exposure to heat and humidity. Additionally, water plays a role energy production as fluids are responsible for both nutrient transportation and waste excretion. Lastly, water makes up a large component of skeletal muscle, (nearly 75%) and is essential for proper muscle function.
So, how much water should you be drinking? It is a question that I
often get, but unfortunately there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer. Your individual fluid needs are based on several varying factors like your height, weight, activity level, sweat rate, exercise environment, and exercise duration. As a result, most athletes need
different quantities of fluids based on the training day.
However, there are three steps that ALL ATHLETES should incorporate into their day if they want to improve their hydration habits. See below for my top three hydration tips.
Step One: Determine your minimum daily fluid requirement.
To calculate your minimum daily fluid needs, begin by taking your body weight and dividing that number by 2. The answer you get is the minimum amount of oz that you should be drinking daily. For example, if you weight 150 pounds, then you likely ne
ed a minimum of 75 oz of water daily. To simplify your goal, determine how many water bottles you would need to drink to reach your daily minimum water intake. For example, if you need 75 oz of water daily and regularly carry around a 24 oz bottle, then you should be aiming for just over 3 water bottles every day.
Step Two: Minimize fluid loss during training.
The research indicates that losing just 2% of your body weight through sweat can have a negative impact on training. Specifically, we know that speed, strength, and mental acuity decrease as fluid losses increase. Therefore, plan to include extra fluids and electrolytes during heavier training sessions, or when you are training in hot and/or humid environments. Also, if you will be training longer than an hour, I recommend drinking both water and a sports drink (like Gatorade) to help replenish fluid and electrolyte losses, as well as provide some quick-digesting carbs.
Step Three: Evaluate your hydration status throughout the day.
Alright, I know what I am about to say isn’t glamourous, but stay with me… The most efficient way to assess your hydration throughout the day is to monitor the
color of your urine. A properly
hydrated athlete’s urine will be light yellow (like the color of lemonade). If your urine is light yellow, then that indicates you are likely drinking enough fluid throughout the day. However, if your urine is dark yellow throughout the day and/or in the hours after your training, this indicates that you likely need to increase your water intake.
By determining your minimum fluid needs, adding additional fluids and electrolytes during training, and monitoring your urine color throughout the day, you can truly transform the way that you hydrate. Small changes like this make a large impact in athletic performance and general health, so I encourage you to give my three steps a try!
***Please remember that nutrition and hydration requirem
ents are individualized and can change based on factors like exercise type, duration, and intensity. I recommend working individually with a Sports RD to determine the best and most accurate hydration plan.