Advice from a Dietitian. Part 2 of 4: Don’t Stay Thirsty My Friends
In the last post we began looking at tips for a healthier lifestyle by discussing the benefits of carbohydrates. Today we will follow-up with part 2 of the 4-post series:
Don’t stay thirsty my friends
My dad has always called water “the elixir of life”, and with good reason: about 2/3 of our body is made up of it. Proper hydration is important for many bodily functions: temperature regulation (sweating), joint lubrication, forming saliva to begin food digestion, brain and spinal cord shock absorption, and flushing toxins out of our bodies via urine/feces, just to name a few. Due to the uniqueness of water and all its daily uses, no other nutrient is as essential as water is for our bodies.
During physical activity, it is very important to stay adequately hydrated for temperature regulation and reducing the risk of heat illness or injury. For instance, water can prevent weightlifters’ muscles from overheating and being destroyed during exercise by allowing the heat produced by these muscles to be quickly transferred away from the active muscles and distributed throughout the body with the help of blood circulation. In addition to heat regulation, proper hydration is also important for delaying fatigue, improving mental acuity, and increasing your ability to recover quickly from training. It is very important to drink fluids throughout the day and to begin exercise well hydrated. Chances are, if you are feeling thirsty then you are already slightly dehydrated. Some other signs of dehydration to watch for are: headaches, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, general feelings of fatigue and increased heart rate.
For short-duration, low to moderate-intensity exercise lasting less than 1 hour, water is a great choice to drink before, during and after training. When you start getting into moderate to high-intensity training lasting more than 1 hour, sports drinks will be a good option to replenish carbohydrates lost in the muscles and electrolytes lost via sweat. A good rule of thumb is to drink consistently throughout the day, with at least 3 cups (24 ounces) of water within the 4 hours before training, a few large gulps of either water or a sports drink every 15-20 minutes during training, and then a few cups post exercise to replenish any fluids lost during training. If you have issues with cramping, try to replace fluid and sodium losses with watery foods that contain salt, such as soup. You can also replace potassium losses by eating fresh fruits and vegetables. The test to make sure you are adequately hydrated is to monitor your urine color to check that it is clear to pale yellow (lemonade color). Any darker shows that you likely need to up your drinking game and pour some drank in your cup.
The human body relies on an adequate volume of water for many of its processes; so don’t let a silly thing like dehydration bring you down. Practice drinking more water daily, and stay tuned for our next topic: mindful eating.
About the author:
Meagan began training at SAA a few years ago looking to learn the Olympic lifts. She started with a blank slate and learned to trust the process as our coaches worked on her technique and strength. As a Registered Dietitian, she has been able to fuel herself for performance as we programmed for her progression as a weightlifter. Meagan works as a Sport Nutrition Consultant for Renaissance Periodization and spent the last baseball season working for the World Series Champions, Chicago Cubs, as the clubhouse dietitian for their Triple A Minor league affiliate, the Iowa Cubs. Currently, Meagan works for Gatorade Sports Science Institute and is the Sports Dietitian for the Chicago White Sox.
Rosenbloom C, Coleman E, SCAN DPG. Sports nutrition a practice manual for professionals. 5th ed. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; 2012.
Murray R. Hydration and physical performance. J Am Clin Nutr: 2007;26(suppl):542S-548.
American College of Sports Medicine. Exercise and fluid replacement. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39:377-390.
Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition DPG. Exercise hydration nutrition facts sheet. 2009, issue 5.