Hydration & Sports Performance Unpacked!

Staying well hydrated is incredibly important for both recreational and elite athletes. You need to hydrate before, during and after all training sessions and races, but also just during day-to-day activities.

The body is made up of approximately 72% water and assists with a wide range of chemical reactions that occur throughout the body, including those that regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, support metabolism and transport nutrients to cells to give you energy.

Almost ¾ of Australian’s are considered chronically dehydrated, often because our thirst signals are quite weak and can get confused for hunger signals. Especially with the seasonal hot summer weather, it is more important then ever to make sure you are getting in your fluids!

Day to day hydration:

  • Start the day with a large glass of water (cold or warm) - you can even add a slice of lemon to it to get your digestive enzymes going and support your liver function
  • To ensure you drink plenty of water throughout the day between meal times, carry a water bottle around with you or have it at your desk, but avoid chugging water at meals as this dilutes your digestive enzymes
  • Always drink water when consuming alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, as these both dehydrate you – alternating 1 for 1 is a good approach
  • Always drink water in any exercise session if possible – sip on water in your rest breaks or throughout a long endurance session

How much water do I need?

  • The average person needs at least 2 litres of water daily
  • For every hour of exercise the body needs 600ml – 1 litre of extra water, this is on top of your daily intake of 2 litres
  • To test your average water loss, you can weigh yourself before exercise, then exercise for 1 hour with out hydrating and then weigh yourself post exercise. 1litre of water weighs 1kg, so if you have lost 800g then you lose approx. 800ml of water per hour

Electrolytes – do I need them?

  • When exercising for less than an hour, water will be sufficient for hydration, but for longer sessions you need to introduce an electrolyte drink that has carbohydrates in it
  • Magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium are minerals known as electrolytes – they regulate the amount of water in the body and delegate where water is distributed too
  • Electrolytes are lost via sweat in prolonged exercise and or in hot conditions
  • Electrolytes reduce muscle cramping and fatigue and help reduce recovery time
  • Dehydration in sport results in increased body temperature, causing blood be sent to the skin to cool you – this results in your working muscles getting less blood flow and therefore lower performance!

Race day hydration:

  • You need to pre-hydrate before an event, make sure 2 days out from an event you are well hydrated and avoid dehydrating drinks like alcohol
  • Continuously sip on fluids the morning of your event – up to 200ml of water every 20 minutes up until 30 minutes before race start
  • If the race last for longer then 40-45 minutes please always drink throughout the race!
  • Practice drinking water throughout your training sessions so your body is use to absorbing it while you exercise
  • If racing in events 60 minutes or longer please drink both water and either an electrolyte drink with carbohydrates in it or gels and salt tablets

Hydration and electrolyte options to choose:

  • Water is always number one – it is free and very accessible
  • However as stated above after 60 minutes of exercise you need more then just water, so below are my recommendation of electrolyte drinks

Pure coconut water or pure watermelon juice:

  • These are both great natural options to help hydrate you after a workout or race that is 60 minutes or less or in combination with one of the electrolyte brands below
  • Both coconut water and watermelon juice have lots of potassium in them but lack enough magnesium or sodium for optimal hydration during/after prolonged exercise on their own

Electrolyte brands I like:

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