Summer is here and so is the heat! Training in the heat brings on new challenges that can affect performance outcomes. The adult body, on average, is made up of around 60% water. With such a large percentage of the human body being water, an adequate fluid balance is crucial for athletic performance. Let’s get ahead and learn about hydration and nutrition for the summer months.
Common symptoms of dehydration include muscle cramps, excessive thirst, trouble concentrating, early fatigue, delayed recovery and headaches. Don’t forget to check your morning urine! Yes, you heard right. Dark urine color indicates dehydration. It can take the body up to 24 hours to recover and regain fluid balance if dehydrated.
How much is enough? Each individual is different but the general 8 cups per day is a good minimum recommendation to start. However, many athletes will need more than this per day. Water should be the number one fluid of choice. Other liquids that count towards total daily fluid intake include juice, sports drinks, tea, milk and broth. Coffee and tea also count, especially for those who drink these regularly. Those who do not may experience a diuretic effect; losing more fluid through urination. In addition, on average, about 20% of daily fluid needs are met through the foods we eat, mostly from fruits and vegetables. Just another reason to eat your fruits and veggies!
It’s important to make sure fluid losses during training are minimal. A good way to monitor these losses involves a simple equation. Pre-training weight subtracted by post training weight then divided by pre-training weight. End result representing percentage of fluid weight lost during exercise.
Example: Male 150 lbs pre-training weight – 147 lbs post training weight = 3 lbs fluid loss.
3 lbs/150 lbs = 2 percent fluid weight loss for that training session. Excessive fluid weight loss may be as much as 2-3 percent pre-training weight.
Some rules to live by when staying hydrated this summer:
With training lasting >60-90 minutes replace fluid lost with a sport drink with some carbohydrate.
With training <60 minutes, hydrating with water is usually adequate.
If sweat losses are >2% consider replenishing fluids during workout.
The best fluid to consume is water and should take up a majority of daily fluid intake.
When possible train in the early morning or late evening to avoid high temperatures.