Our energy levels and sports performance suffers when you lose just 2% of your body weight (that equals a 2.5 pound loss for a 130-pound athlete). Even your metabolism falls flat when you’re dehydrated. And you’d be surprised how quickly you can lose significant amounts of fluid when you’re trying to do anything strenuous or if the heat index climbs to dangerous levels.
Here are 10 ways to stay well hydrated.
1. Two=Two. Two hours before activity, drink 2 cups (16 ounces) of fluids.
2. During exercise, drink 5 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes. Take advantage of breaks in your workouts to stay hydrated and keep your water bottle handy. Every large gulp or swallow = about 1 ounce of fluid.
3. Only the fluid you drink can keep you hydrated. Pouring fluids over your head to cool you off will feel good but won’t keep you from getting dehydrated.
4. Plan a schedule of drinking so you drink before you get thirsty. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink fluids.
5. Choose sports drinks or light (calorie-reduced) sports drinks if you are a heavy sweater and your exercise is of long duration and high intensity, especially in hot, humid conditions. A well formulated sports drink provides 6 to 8% carbohydrate (14 to 19 grams of carbohydrate per 8 ounces) and 100 to 110 milligrams of sodium. Sports drinks help replace fluid, carbohydrate, and sodium lost during exercise.
6. If you like (and can afford) coconut water, it provides about the same calories as sports drinks but varies in sodium content and is generally very high in potassium. Some brands also contain fiber so you might find it upsets your stomach if you drink a large volume of it during exercise. Use our guide to coconut waters to help.
7. After exercise, drink 2 to 3 cups (16 to 24 ounces) of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during activity. Weigh yourself before and after a workout to find out how much water weight you usually lose.
8. Choose foods high in water; most fruits and vegetables are high in water with the added bonus of providing needed vitamins and minerals. A slice of watermelon on a hot summer day is great snack and fluid booster.
9. Don’t over drink during long, strenuous exercise. Drink enough to stay hydrated but if you gain weight after exercise you are probably drinking too much.
10. Check out your urine. Monitor the volume and color of your urine to determine your hydration level using the urine color chart below.
This post is by Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, CSSD, who is one of the leading sports nutritionists in the nation.
Related article: How to Tell If You’re Dehydrated