Hydration Guideline for Athletes

There is no doubt that athletes have a hectic lifestyle. They are having to work hard and for long hours to constantly push their body physically. With all that physical effort and activity, athletes lose an insane amount of water that their body cannot simply replenish with drinking the standard daily amount of water. Athletes have to drink and consume more water than the standard amount if they want to stay fully hydrated and reap the right benefits from it. Their bodies have to stay in pristine condition so that they can perform at their best level and focus when it comes to game time. For some athletes, a game can put a lot on the line for them and water can be exactly what they need to keep that energy going on the field so that they can win. The process of hydrating the body is not entirely too different from how one should hydrate themselves if they are not an athlete. Yet there are some extra rules and tips that athletes need to pay attention to ensure that their body is healthy and hydrated at the time they need it to be. Here is the 411 on all things related to hydration for athletes, so that they can tackle their practices and games like a pro!

What is at Stake?

Before delving into how athletes should stay hydrated, it is important to note and refresh on reasons behind why athletes need to stay hydrated in the first place. Sometimes when something like drinking water is so common, we often undermine the importance of it, since it is so mundane and something we are used to hearing all the time. We all know we need water to survive, but some people miss the mark when understanding just how much water we actually need in our daily life. This is why it is so important that one understands just what can happen when the right amount of water is not being consumed daily. When athletes choose or forget to drink the correct amount of water, then here is exactly what is at stake

Loss of Concentration
Practices are insanely important for sports. One who wants to do good in sports needs to practice daily and work hard so that they can put all their best energy into the game. When someone doesn’t drink enough water, their brain tends to slow down because it doesn’t have the correct amount of water it needs to function. A Tuft University study actually reported that mild dehydration – about 1-2% of water loss in body weight is enough to impair thinking. This can cause an athlete to lose focus or think at a much slower rate. If an athlete plays a sport that requires game plans to be memorized then optimal focus is needed so that the player can execute the game plan swiftly before the other team has time to react to what is happening. A dehydrated athlete will have a harder time memorizing the game plans, be slower in executing the game plan, and will react a lot slower to any hindrances or obstacles that come along the way. This is one way that dehydration can dramatically affect an athlete’s performance.

Sluggish Energy Levels
Not drinking enough water can also produce serious consequences on your energy levels. Water is needed in order for your body to be able to process and utilize nutrients from food. With low energy levels, your body cannot access nutrients from food or use them quick enough and as a result a person is more prone to sleepiness and a loss in their energy. Lack of hydration leads to an imbalance in important electrolytes like sodium and potassium and this can cause impair your muscles and heart from working hard to keep the body moving. This can result in fatigue and a lag in reaction times – something that is not good for athletes. Athletes need to be at full energy levels and completely focused so that they can put the best energy they can into winning the game.

Weakened Immune System
Water is important for all the systems within your body. This also includes your immune system. Your immune system is a significant system in ensuring that your body does not get sick. It acts as a defense against foreign viruses or bacteria within the body and works to fight back so that you do not get sick. Water acts to flush out any toxins or waste within the body and this aids in making your immune system stronger in fighting back against illnesses. As an athlete, it is incredibly imperative that athletes have strong immune systems because they are constantly working every day for a couple hours a day and often have intense schedules where they play a lot of games and participate in a myriad of competitions. With such a busy schedule illness can deter athletes from playing well during games and it can also cause athletes to be completely removed from games if they are too sick to play. It is never fun to work hard for a game and then be removed or exempted because you are too sick to play. For that reason, hydration is so important for the body and one should always remember to stay hydrated no matter what.

Guidelines for Athletes on Hydration
Now that you understand how important it is for people and athletes specially to stay hydrated, it is now time to give the fundamentals, tips, and tricks on the ways that athletes can take extra care and precaution when it comes to making sure that they are good to go for practices and games! Read on to learn how you can always make sure that you are playing your games and practices at peak performance!

Pace Your Consumption of Water
It is often easy for someone to chug their water when they are feeling dehydrated and then turn back to it every hour or so to chug some more water down, but chugging is actually not the wisest to do if you are trying to hydrate effectively. Chugging your water actually causes your body to not be able to utilize all that water at once which means your body only retains a small amount of the water before it flushes the rest out and you find yourself constantly in the need of using the restroom! Using the restroom constantly during the game is not very convenient at all and should very much be avoided. In addition, the issue with constantly going to the bathroom and losing fluids, is that you lose more water and become dehydrated again. It becomes a vicious cycle the more that you chug water and it ends up being ineffective for hydration. It is actually recommended that when trying to hydrate yourself you take smaller gulps of water every 15 to 20 minutes, that way your body has time to use the water it gets to perform the necessary bodily functions. It is recommended that you drink around 4-8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes to reach the necessary hydration.

Monitor Fluid Loss
Monitoring fluid loss is another great tip that athletes can utilize to make sure that they are staying on top of their water game. Managing fluid loss can help athletes gage their body in terms of how dehydrated or hydrated they are. Anytime you use the bathroom, be sure to replenish your body with water afterwards so that the fluid loss does not have any effect on your body. Before and after practice as well as before and after a game, you can weight yourself to see if there are any changes in your weight. If your weight has decreased a bit then that is a sign that you have lost some water. A 1-3% loss in body weight is a sign that you need to drink more water. For every pound you have lost, replenish the fluid back in your body by drinking about 20-24 ounces of water. Make sure though to drink it slowly and not all at once! Be sure to do it within two hours of your activity.

Examine the Signs
Another great way for athletes to keep themselves hydrated is by staying alert for any dramatic signs within their body that can signal their dehydration. Some signs that you should look out for while playing sports is a decrease in energy, muscle fatigue, reduction in your performance, muscle cramps, and a decline in coordination. Any of these are a sign that you are experiencing some dehydration and your body needs to be replenished with the proper fluid.

Hydrate with Foods as Well

In addition to drinking water or sports drinks to rev up your energy level, athletes can also lean towards fruit or veggies to get the job done. Try to bring fruits and veggies as a snack for the next practice as they can be a great source of hydration. Fruits and veggies carry a high-water content and therefore are another great way for athletes to stay healthy and hydrated. Choose from a wide array of fruits and veggies like watermelons, apples, pineapples, strawberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots, and more! You can even get creative and throw some fruits and veggies into your water so that you can spruce up the flavor a bit!

Choose a Sports Drink
In addition to drinking water to keep energy levels high, choosing a sports drink to stay hydrated is also very important as well! Sports drinks offer a great source of sodium, potassium, and carbohydrates. These are all elements that are so fundamental for hydration. When choosing a sports drink do not be fooled with the overly flavorful sports drinks because while they may have the necessary vitamins and minerals that your body needs, they also come with high amounts of sugar that make them very unhealthy and not favorable to drink for your body. In this case be knowledgeable about the drinks you choose to have! Opt for coconut water if you can and keep both coconut water and regular water in your bag if you want! Remember that if you do choose sports drinks as a way to stay hydrated then you need to be active for over an hour in order to drink them.

Chart Your Daily Water Intake
If it is easier for you to have a plan when it comes to meeting certain goals then create a chart that maps out how much water you plan to drink daily and the times you are going to drink the water or sports drink. Think about where you plan to get your water from and designate a certain percentage of your water from food and a certain percentage from water or other hydrating drinks. Map out how many ounces you plan to drink by certain times of the day. Meeting your water goals is all about doing what works best for you! Find the best way for you to stay motivated and roll with it.

Here are a few of the many tips that athletes should take into account when it comes to hydrating their bodies. Athletes need to be focused when it comes to doing their job or simply what they love to do. If you are competitive in nature or want to see yourself improve more in practices then taking these tips into account can be a way to see an increase in your performance. It is important to always stay hydrated no matter what and give your body what it needs so that your body can reward you in the end. Don’t let all your hard work go down the drain simply because you forgot to drink a little bit of water. Figure out ways to motivate your water drinking habits if you find it hard to meet your daily intake and make water consumption a fun experience. Just because it is common for us to drink water does not mean that it has to be boring or mundane at all! Create a fun hydration plan and do your best on the field, in the rink, or wherever you play!

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