Sports and Hydration

We live in a society that is constantly moving on a day to day basis. From school, work, sports practice, to hanging with friends, we are becoming increasingly busier and busier. It seems that in school, there is always a strong emphasis being placed on being active and working with others and that is demonstrated through the many physical education requirements focused on students as well as the consistent encouragement to join a sports team. People love sports, especially America. Many american schools use sports as a way to boast about their diversity and popularity as well as a way to get students critically thinking, working with teammates, and strategizing in a way that gets both their brain thinking and their bodies moving. Sports in high school, college, and even professionally requires a lot more than just moving around a court or kicking a ball. It requires quick thinking and planning alternatives in the last minutes. Sports actually requires a lot of brain power when you think about it, and this brain power coupled with the high activity that people engage in, results in a lot and I meant a lot of energy being spent and lost at very high rates. That is why it is so very important to one’s health and performance that they are constantly staying hydrated at optimum levels so that they can put out their best effort and performance while keeping their body and health in check. This article breezes over the simple facts you need to know about sports playing and hydration, and is the perfect way to understand how you can keep yourself feeling your best while you are out their representing your team, your school, your city, your state, or even your country.
The Ugly of Sports and Low Hydration

It’s not secret that losing hydration within the body is a big no and is bound to result in some not so fun consequences, but here is a more detailed analysis of what exactly happens to you when your body is not receiving enough water. In a state of dehydration your blood actually becomes thicker. When your blood thickens, your heart rate begins to drop, causing low blood pressure. Your body, when dehydrated actually makes it harder on you to convert fat to fuel and instead your muscles began to burn the small amount of glycogen you carry in your body. Your brain is about 85% water, and even small changes to this percentage can cause serious effects on your mood. It also can simultaneously decrease concentration and alertness which everyone knows are vital traits you need to have when playing sports. It doesn’t look like a good win for you or your team if your concentration and alertness is at an all time low. It is essential to rehydrate the body consistently when you are sweating and becoming active. Failure to do so while also reaching about 3% dehydration can lead to serious ailments such as heat strokes or heat exhaustion. Signs of dehydration include increased fatigue, low motivation, and reduced endurance, all of which are extremely important qualities for superb sports performance. Dehydration harps greatly on your ability to do well, and no amount of practice is going to save you when you feel those signs coming on during a very big game. That is why it is of extreme importance to understand the signs of your body when it is dehydrated and from there make the proper decisions to rectify the decision, because doing so will be the difference between winning and losing.
How to Properly Hydrate Your Body

It is imperative to note that while water is very important in keeping our bodies rehydrated, when doing sports where you are expending energy at higher rates than normal and sweating a lot more, you must strike a balance in hydration through both water and drinks that carry electrolytes. Found a water that has electrolytes? You’ve hit the jackpot. Finding water that carries electrolytes such as perfect hydration water, etc. is so vital. If you find that over time, plain water isnt doing the trick anymore and you need more to jazz up your drink, try always going for dressing it up with fruit and vegetables or even go for some sports drinks that carry both electrolytes and flavor (just be wary when looking for such drinks as they often come with high amounts of sugar!). It is critical to note that when rehydrating your body understand that many people who feel satisfied with the amount of water they have sipped are actually 10-20% dehydrated. Don’t go with your gut feeling that you are satisfied. Often rehydrating your body means going past that “I feel fine” stage and drinking even when you don’t feel like you absolutely need it. Now while saying that don’t guzzle half a bottle after feeling full from water! Drinking more than 10 ounces of water at once, is not the best and can actually lead to hyponatremia. This is caused when you drink more water than what was lost or essentially overhydrate yourself. This can also happen when you replace fluid losses with only plain water that has 0 electrolytes whatsoever. It is best that even when you don’t feel the urge to drink water, aim to still sip about 7-10 ounces of water or a sports drink about every 10-20 minutes while you are engaging in a game or practice. As stated before, try to aim for water with electrolytes or sports drinks that carry electrolytes and low sugar preferrably. If you are feeling hungry during a game or practice, or before you engage in your sport activity, try going for fruit. Fruit can also give you the hydration you need to perform well and it also has electrolytes!
Drinks that You Can Use to Hydrate!

Here are some drinks that you can stock up on to keep you hydrated that are full of electrolytes and minerals and perfect for restoring energy and fluid loss.
Perfect Hydration Water. It is water that fuels you up and tastes exactly like water, but it packs in the necessities that plain water does not have for sports or exercise rehydration such as electrolytes.
Coconut Water. Coconut water hits all the bells when it comes to electorlytes. This tiny but mighty drink packs a good punch of electrolytes such as magnesium, calcium, phophorus, sodium, and potassium. Plus this drink also has a low calorie content.
Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk. I know that sounds weird to whip out chocolate milk during practice, but this is actually really good for you! It has lots of proteins and carbs for good performance as well as calcium and a high water content for restoring energy levels.
Now Without Further Ado Here Are Some Sports Drinks You Must Stay Away From!

Gatorade. Unfortunate considering this sports drink is highly advertised and very popular among sports players to nestle in their bag, but its not as good as you think. Although the drink does have a lot of electrolytes essential for energy, it packs a whole lot more uneccessary ingredients in it that doesn’t make it very healthy for you! You end up digesting a lot of extra sugars that your body really doesn’t need.
Powerade. This drink has a lot of pretty colors and flavors that make it so attractive for people to want to drink, but be warned, this drink has a lot of high fructose corn syrup making it extremely unhealthy for you. Couple that with the fact that the drink also carries brominated vegetable oil which is banned in both Japan and Europe, this drink is not the kindest to your body.
Propel. This drink is not your friend either! Although claiming to have rehydration properties, Propel carries a lot of chemicals that were created in a lab. It contains sucralose which is an artificial sugar that raises blood sugar levels, as well as calcium disodium which is known to block mineral absorption. In addition it also has sodium hexametaphosphae which is known to give headaches. Doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to drink!
General Tips on Hydration for Athletes

Look Out For Signs!

Watch out for signs that you are dehydrated when playing! This is a good way to know if your body needs more water and electrolytes, and it helps avoid heat stroke and exhaustion. If you start feeling tired, reduced motivation, and decreased performance during practice or a game that you should understand that you need to amp up how much you are drinking immediately to compensate for that loss in energy! If you start to notice any cramping in your legs and arms that cause difficulty with mobility or discomfort then that is a sign that your body’s energies are low and your muscles are producing lactic acid as a result.

Weigh Yourself!

Weighing yourself is a great way to also understand if your body is in a state of dehydration or not. Weigh yourself before practice or a game. If after you notice that your weight has decreased by about 1-3% then that means you are not getting enough water and important electrolytes in. For every pound lost, compensate by consuming around 20-24 oz. of water or sports beverage of your choice, within two hours of physical activity. In addition, checking the color of your urine can help with knowing whether dehydration has hit you or not. If the color of your urine seems to be a dark yellow then that is a sign you need more water in you. If your urine seems to be a light yellow then this is a sign that your body is maintaining proper hydration levels.

Exactly How Much Water Should You Consume?

It is recommended that before you start your practice or physical activity, you should have about 16-20 ounces of water within two hours prior to physical activity or any type of sports. During the period of physical activity when your body is constantly moving, it is ideal to drink about 8-10 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes of exercise to ensure that you are regaining the energy and electrolytes that you have lost. Post physical activity or exercise it is recommended to weigh yourself and then use the methods shared in the weigh yourself section, to ensure that you take your body to the amount of hydration it needs. Once these precautions are taken care of then there is a stronger chance and probability of a heightened and more alert sports performance over all, plus you won’t have to worry about dealing with horrible nausea, heat, or headaches that can occur, making physical activity sound very daunting.
Knowing When You’ve Had Too Much

Of course having too much of a good thing can still promote serious effects on the body. It’s important to know not only when you are dehydrated, but also when you have drunk too much water. As stated before, too much water can lead to water intoxication known as hypnatremia. This water intoxication causes sodium levels to drop which can prove to be extremely dangerous. It is unfortunately very hard to gauge whether you know you’ve had too much, but your body will normally produce signs that something is wrong. If you start feeling nauseous or sick or your urine has become almost clear looking that is a sign that you are beyond hydration levels and need to tone your water intake down a bit. Watching out and being aware of those signs can help you understand what your body needs to perform at its best.
Americans love their sports. It passes the time, keeps us active, helps us strategize and use our thinking skills while also promoting cooperation and teamwork. There are a lot of benefits that sports can bring and many Americans realize this, but its’ important that while you join the sports craze and make new friends, that you are being aware of your own body and health. A hydrated, healthier you equates to a well performed and happier you, and at least even when you lose, you can be happy knowing that you did the best that you could for your body and your performance.

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