Some of us tend to overlook water for nothing. What we didn’t know is that water is the most important nutrient to fuel our bodies. In fact, it is the main ingredient of our blood! Our parents used to tell us to drink water eight times a day in our younger years. However, as years go by, this simple rule of thumb is often forgotten where alcohol and other flavored beverages have taken into place.
For athletes, we have Gatorade bottles. But research shows that even the best among the rest kind of athletes aren’t staying on top of their hydration needs during the game.
The Harmful Effects of Dehydration on Athletes
Water is a fundamental nutrient that we must never forget. We are not like camels that can store vast amounts of water and just replenish as soon as we dehydrate. Dehydration can lead to:
- Decreased performance: Athletes move around all day long to train and game. Once dehydration starts to kick in, it will lead to a performance decline, especially when there’s a 1-3% loss of body weight from sweat.
- More prone to cramps and headaches: Everything athletes do in the field involves muscle and bone use. Once dehydrated, it will lead to muscle cramps and even worse, headaches. The importance of being hydrated should be a top priority, especially during intensive training.
- You’ll be exerting too much effort: Of course, athletes will always do their best in the field and effort is a part of that. But once dehydration kicks in, that effort will feel more effort-ty. Those regular exercise routine will be more difficult than usual. What’s even worse is that it can negatively impact muscle endurance.
- You’ll overheat: When you’re properly hydrated, your body’s temperature levels will remain at a stable state. Once dehydrated, your body enters survival mode by hoarding fluids and slowing your sweat rate and blood flow on your skin, which leads the feeling of being overheated.
- Slow recovery: When you’re dehydrated, your body will be having a hard time recovering from pain after all that exercise and intensive training.
Steps to Properly Hydrate Yourself
Staying hydrated throughout the day comes in basic rules that you can do in minutes. All you need to do is just drink and drink to fuel up in preparation for your daily workout routine. Follow the steps down below to ward off dehydration.
- A glass of water after waking up is a must
- Always keep a bottle of water on your bedside that you can easily grab within arm’s reach as soon as you wake up. Note: our bodies lose water overnight as we sleep that’s why drinking water in the morning as you rise up is important. Want proof? Weight yourself before you go to bed and weigh yourself again when you wake up and you’ll see the difference.
- Drink water even on rest days
- Just because it’s rest day doesn’t mean that you won’t be mindful of your health. Always bring a bottle of water with you whether you’re at the mall or just chilling outside in the park.
- Bring a water bottle wherever you are
- Even if you’re going to school, or going to work, it is crucial to bring a bottle of water with you not only when you go to the gym. Always keep a bottled water inside your bag because you’ll never know when thirst strikes.
- Hydrate yourself before you pump some iron
- It’s always advisable to keep your hydration levels at its peak before you begin that intensive training. Keep in mind that water acts as fuel of your body. The lesser the fuel, the slower you’ll perform. Once you’re hydrated enough, you are now ready to rock and roll to the gym or field.
The Difference Between Water and Sports Drinks
Sports drinks are invented way back in the 1960s by the Gator Athletes in the University of Florida. That’s where the name “Gatorade” came from, which became the most popular sports drink to date that’s now dominating our convenience stores and vending machines. But how effective are sports drink compared to water? Does it have an effect on your hydration levels? The truth? It all depends on your workout length!
- One hour or less – If you’re working out for an hour or less, then stick to drinking plain water. You will notice little to no difference at all when you opt for sports drink in this kind of length.
- More than an hour – This is the time where you are really pushing your limits and intensively working that muscle out. A sports drink is a must to avoid fatigue. It’s ideal to aim for 30 to 60 grams of carb-filled sports drink to help fuel and pump your muscles during your workout session.
A Few Final Things to Consider
After all, consistency is all you need when it comes to hydrating yourself throughout the day. When you hydrate yourself, you can perform better, recover faster, and have increased endurance to tackle on those challenging exercises in the field/gym. Here are some few key things to consider to properly hydrate yourself over the course of the day:
- Drink water first thing in the morning before doing anything else
- Always carry a bottle of water no matter where you go
- Consume 16-20 oz. of water two hours before working out
- Drink 6-8 oz. every 20 minutes when you exercise
- Replenish and rehydrate yourself with about 20-40 oz. of water to avoid dehydration