Maintaining hydration is by far the
greatest concern for regular exercisers. If you are dehydrated
you will fatigue earlier and lose coordination skills. Your
performance can suffer when you lose as little as 2% of body weight
due to dehydration. To prevent this from happening, exercising
individuals must drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after a
workout. Relying on thirst as an indicator of how much fluid is
lost is not an accurate method. If you relied on thirst, you
would only put back 50 to 75% of the fluid that you lost and you would
start your next workout already in a state of dehydration. Do
not wait until you are thirsty to drink, and do not stop drinking once
your thirst has been quenched. Most people have no idea how much
fluid they need, let alone how much they have lost during the day or
during exercise. To gain insight into fluid losses, you should
monitor your fluid levels by one of two methods:
- Weigh in before and after a workout.
Consume two to three cups of fluid for each pound of body weight
- Check urine color. A dark gold
color means that you are dehydrated. A pale yellow color, or
no color at all, means that you are headed toward a state of
hydration. If you consume a lot of caffeine, which is a
diuretic, you will have pale or clear urine even though you are, in
fact, dehydrated. Alcohol also is a very powerful diuretic.
Most experts will now recommend sports
drinks to exercising individuals, especially if their workout lasts
longer than 60 minutes. The fear that sports drinks impair fluid
absorption is unfounded, and it has been shown that sports drinks
formulated with 6 to 8% carbohydrates plus at least 100 mg sodium per
8 oz replace fluids just as fast as water, improve performance, and
help ensure optimal rehydration. They also maintain
physiological function as well as, if not better than, water.
Sport Drinks and Other Beverages
Per 8 oz (mg)
Pay attention to the percentage of
carbohydrates in each drink. Those containing less than 5%
carbohydrate do not provide enough energy to enhance performance, and
beverages containing 10% carbohydrate or more (fruit juices and soda)
are associated with intestinal cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and
Guidelines for Fluid
- Consume one to two cups (8 to 16
ounces) of fluid at least one hour before the start of exercise.
If possible, consume 8 ounces of fluid 15 to 30 minutes before the
start of exercise.
- Consume 4 to 8 ounces of fluid every
10 to 15 minutes during the workout.
- Consume 16 to 24 ounces during the
30 minutes after exercise, whether thirsty or not.