For those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere like I do, it’s warming up again. Summer is approaching!!! Depending on your sport and where you live, this can mean different things for where you are at in your training cycle.
Regardless of where you are in your training cycle, though, one thing remains. With summer comes more heat and humidity, which results in greater sweat loss during training. Now is a great time to talk about hydration with training.
Maintaining proper hydration is an important element year round for normal function, both physically and mentally. All our body systems require water in order to function properly. With as little as 2% loss of body weight in water, dehydration can begin to impact our performance; at 5%, the effects can become severe.
Possible consequences of dehydration include:
Muscle cramps and spasms
Decreased concentration and focus
Decreased aerobic power and endurance capacity
Decreased tolerance to heat
Increased perceived exertion
So how much water does your body need? A general rule of thumb is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water a day to support normal daily function. When we pull exercise into the mix, that number MUST INCREASE.
This is where things can get a bit tricky…but I will keep it as simple as I can for you.
When we train or compete, we sweat. That sweat results in water loss that needs to be replenished, some during activity and some after activity.
During the activity, drink based on thirst rather than attempting to get a certain amount in regularly. As an endurance athlete, it can be difficult to figure out how much you are drinking at a time and you don’t want to feel water-logged. If you drink when you are thirsty, you should be fine.
After the activity is complete you can fully replenish. To figure out how much you water you need to replenish, the easiest method is to weigh yourself before you begin and then again after you are finished. The difference in weight is what you lost in sweat and have not yet replaced. For every pound lost, you want to consume 16 oz of water on top of what your daily minimum is. I don’t expect you to replenish it all immediately, but rather over a period of the several hours, possibly the day.
After you use this method of weighing yourself for a week or so, you begin to get a sense of how much water your body expels during your training sessions and what you need to replace. At that point, it is not as important to weigh yourself as long as you continue to consume based on what you know your body needs.
The other thing we need to consider with this is electrolytes being lost with the sweat. The amount of electrolytes lost will vary from person to person as it is partially genetic based, but you will lose some regardless any time you sweat. Personally, know I lose a lot of electrolytes based on how I feel if I don’t take in some type of electrolytes on a regular basis.
Signs of low electrolytes can vary from person to person. Some common ones are nausea and/or vomiting, increased fatigue, lethargy, and racing or irregular heartbeat. For me personally, I will get lightheaded and dizzy during training sessions if I am low on electrolytes. Later on, I either get nauseas and develop dry heaves or I get very sleepy and can barely keep my eyes open.
When looking at electrolyte replacement options, there are a number of choices, including powders/tablets to add to your water, coconut water, pickle juice, mustard, or there are recipes to make your own. Choose whichever method is easiest for you, as they all work. If looking at powders/tablets, I suggest avoiding anything that contains sucralose due to what it does to the body. Some of my favorite supplements in powder or pill form are Vega Sport, Tailwind, Ucann, and Salt Tabs.
I hope this helps give you and understanding of water and electrolyte requirements during your training. Email [email protected] with any specific questions regarding your situation.