Some High Quality H2O
So it has been hot, really hot. This being said as I was sweating buckets at my non- air conditioned gym I thought I should spend some time on the importance of hydration for different types of athletes. Whether it is avoiding heat stroke on the field or manipulating water intake to make weight, hydration is an essential tool in any athletes repertoire.
Water makes up about 55% of your body mass, meaning your more water than human…. Yea. You can find this water being stored mostly in your liver, your muscles and heart, but also within ever cell in your body to some extent keeping you alive. Fat tissue (adipose) stores only 5% of your bodies water and is largely why muscle weighs more than fat (water is heavy). Disturbing this balance by not consuming adequate water causes dehydration which can cause a slew of cognitive and health impairments (headache, nausea, organ damage, death).
In order to insure adequate hydration, athletes should be hydrating before practice not just at the onset of practice. Once you are thirsty research says are already in a dehydrated state. This means drinking small quantities of water in the absence of thirst before, during and after exercise in order to insure optimum performance and recovery is generally necessary.
Is there such thing as drinking too much water though?
The truth is, research says yes, mainly for endurance athletes during long distance races. Negative results can even lead to urgent medical issues due to your body not being able to utilize or get rid of excess intake of water. This simply means that a trained athlete should not go from drinking only 1 cup of water during practice a day to a gallon. It is changes like this that can have negative effects on your performance as well as your digestive system, and kidneys.
Recommendation for all athletes
This brings us answer the question of how much? Outside of practice drink when you are thirsty. Two hours prior to practice consume 2 cups of water as well as drinking when thirsty. About 30 minutes before practice drink 1-2 cups of water. During training, especially in hot and humid conditions, drink about a half cup every 15- 20 minutes you are outside. Lastly if you are an endurance athlete training for 1.5 hours or more drinking a beverage with electrolytes can be beneficial to keep your electrolyte balance normal. This all being said, if you are a trained athlete who drinks much more than this regularly or possibly even less, that may be okay for you as an individual. Listen to your body though, if you find you are consistently thirsty during your workout, drink more before and take more water breaks during. The recommendation I set above are both well researched and safe to both avoid dehydration as well as over-hydration in most trained athletes.
Manipulating water weight:
If you are a wrestler or in any weight sensitive sport you probably already know where I am going with this. Like I said, water is heavy, so many athletes realize this and manipulate their weight simply by depriving themselves water in order to make weight. Is it ideal or healthy? No and no, but it works and even I have done it to lose that last pound the night before weigh in. You run risks doing this, and the more you dehydrate yourself prior to weigh in the more research shows performance is negatively affected. Ideally, an athlete in a weight sensitive sport should lose weight responsibly over time, only having to lose 2 lbs at most the week of a competition, using diet as main weight loss tool. If you choose to use dehydration as your main weight loss tool (not recommended), drinking the amount of water weight lost in form of a sports beverage (yes, Pedialyte counts) post weigh in is your best bet in order to minimize negative dehydration effects. If you have lost significant water weight (over 5 lbs) be careful not to re-hydrate too fast, as it can cause digestive issues.
Overall, the human body is highly adaptable and although being dehydrated can negatively affect your performance, the body of a trained athlete can sustain itself in absence of water for longer than untrained athletes. Your body is incredible, it is efficient, smart and always going to do whatever it takes to keep you alive. With that said, water is essential in all diets and being deprived of it can negatively affect your performance and health, so drink up and stay cool in the heat of the summer.
Have more hydration Questions? Let me know!
Jeukendrup, Asker E., and Michael Gleeson. Sport Nutrition: An Introduction to Energy Production and Performance. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2010. Print.
Noakes, Timothy. Waterlogged: the serious problem of overhydration in endurance sports. Human Kinetics, 2012.
Houston, Michael E., et al. "The effect of rapid weight loss on physiological functions in wrestlers." The Physician and Sportsmedicine 9.11 (1981): 73-78.
Wenos, David L., and Herbert K. Amato. "Weight cycling alters muscular strength and endurance, ratings of perceived exertion, and total body water in college wrestlers." Perceptual and motor skills 87.3 Pt 1 (1998): 975-978.