Sports Nutrition and Hydration
Athletes who want a winning edge require optimal nutrition. When you drink enough water and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, your body can make energy efficiently and this fuels top performances. You are more capable of making the most of your athletic talents by potentially gaining more strength, power, and endurance when you train. One needs to base their diet on a variety of factors including age, height- weight ratio, and physical condition; and the type of exercise you are doing.
Water is the most important factor in sports nutrition. It makes up about 60 percent of body weight and is involved in almost every bodily process. Your body cannot make or store water, so you must replace what you eliminate (i.e., urine, sweat). Everyone should drink at least two liters (eight cups) of water each day; athletes require more. The most important factor in hydration is how much you drink at one time; you may quench your thirst but not sufficiently hydrate your tissues if you drink too much at one time. Maximally, you should drink 500 ml of water per hour to ensure you are hydrating your tissues and maximizing water uptake. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after sports events to stay hydrated and avoid overheating.
When you workout or compete, especially in hot weather, try to closely match the amount of fluid you drink with the amount you lose to sweat. Cool water is the best fluid to keep you hydrated during workouts or events lasting an hour or less. Sports drinks (i.e., 6-10 percent carbohydrates) are useful for longer events. Most of these types of drinks should be diluted approximately 50 percent with water. Drink even if you are not thirsty as thirst is not a reliable way to tell if you need water. You won’t start feeling thirsty until you have already lost about 2 percent of body weight – enough to hinder performance. Interestingly, if you stop drinking water once your thirst is satisfied, you will get only about half the amount you need.
Some tips for staying hydrated
1. Drink small amounts of water frequently, rather than large amounts less often.
2. Drink cold beverages to cool your core body temperature and reduce sweating.
3. Weigh yourself after working out and drink 2-3 cups of water for every pound lost. Your body weight should be back to normal before the next workout.
4. Pay attention to the amount and colour of your urine. You should excrete a large volume that is nearly colourless. Small amounts or dark coloured urine can indicate dehydration.
Next up in the series: Fuel Sources
Have a great day,
Dr. Crysta Serné
Vancouver Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic