Are you an athlete trying to reach your full potential, yet something is holding you back? What if that “something” was an easy fix and something you thought you were already doing. You might just have to hydrate more effectively! It’s an easy thing to do, yet so many people underestimate its impact on the body. You can read our previous blog, “8 Reasons Why Hydration Is More Important Than You Realize !” for more information. However, this article will go over the impact of hydration on athletic performance and what it really means for athletes to be hydrated.
Did you know that it’s not uncommon for athletes to lose 6–10% of body weight through sweat loss during intense and challenging activity events? Some studies show that even as little as 2% loss can start to decrease performance athletically as well as cognitively. If you don’t replenish that fluid, your body will feel sluggish and won’t work the way it should. Dehydration can cause cardiovascular, thermoregulatory, metabolic, and central nervous system dysfunction, which can all impact your performance and keeping you from accomplishing your goal(s).
- Reduced Endurance
- Increased Fatigue
- Muscle Cramps
- Dizziness or Lightheadedness
- Altered Thermoregulatory Capability
- Reduced Motivation
- Dry Mouth
- Hard, Fast Heartbeat
- Increased Perceived Effort
- Dark Yellow Urine
- Poor Recovery
- Heightened Sense Of Pain
- Joint Aches And Breakdown
Factors To Be On The Lookout For If You Are An Athlete
You’ll want to be extra cautious of your hydration status if you fall under any of these following categories. Sometimes replenishing your body with just plain water isn’t enough. You’ll need to restore other vital nutrients as well.
Duration and Activity Level
If you are participating in moderate to high-intensity exercises for more than 45 minutes, your nutrient stores, like sodium and potassium levels, could become depleted and affect hydration.
What is the climate like where you live? What season is it? People who live in more humid climates can tell when they are losing water from the sweat dripping off their bodies. People in climates with “dry heat” might need to pay closer attention as it can be harder to tell. In “dry heat,” sweat can evaporate rather quickly, making it hard to determine how much you’ve actually sweated. You’ll want to make sure that you are giving your body adequate water and electrolytes for maximum replenishing. If possible it is good to play with and train in different environments – train indoors where you can regulate the temperature, train on really humid days, train in cool weather or AC, train with a fan, train without a fan, train at altitude, train at sea level. When doing this play with your hydration levels, you can learn your body’s response so when race day or an event comes, you are prepared based on the environment.
Are you someone who sweats profusely during workouts? Do you feel super “salty” after the sweat dries? If so, you could be losing not only larger amounts of water than others, but also those critical nutrients like sodium as well.
However, if you purposefully rehydrate throughout the day and hydrate extra after those hardcore workouts, you’ll not only have more energy, but you’ll feel recovered faster too.
Cycle Days For Female Athletes
Females should be a little more cautious of hydration levels during certain times of their cycle. Women’s hormones fluctuate depending on what stage of the menstrual cycle they are in. Because hormones regulate fluid and sodium balance, the body might need more hydration during some days compared to others.
Let’s dive a little deeper into this. During the follicular phase, which is the first half of the menstrual cycle (first day of your period to ovulation), estrogen levels increase. Estrogen can increase the amount of vasopressin (antidiuretic hormone) in the body, which is the hormone responsible for retaining water.
However, once ovulation occurs and you move into the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle (time between ovulation and right before you start your period), progesterone levels rise. Progesterone, through a series of effects, inhibits the reabsorption of sodium, creating high levels of urinary sodium excretion. These low levels of sodium in the body reduce blood plasma volume, leading to elevated heart rate during exercise.
So the main takeaway here is that if you are in the luteal phase of your cycle, you may want to rehydrate with more sodium hydration products (electrolyte drinks or good old unrefined sea salt) to help get fluid back into your bloodstream to help optimize your cardiovascular performance.
How Does Hydration Ensure Optimal Performance
Being a great athlete requires refined training, adequate restorative sleep, the right nutrition, and optimal HYDRATION. Many people will be surprised at how they feel when they really prioritize getting and staying hydrated. It’s not something that is preached about as often as it should be.
Hydration can get you closer to reaching optimal performance by:
- Reducing oxidative stress from high intensity and long duration workouts that damage DNA.
- Enhancing energy levels
- Increasing exercise endurance
Tips To Stay Hydrated
Be Aware Of False Marketing Towards Athletes
There are numerous companies out there that claim they have the perfect sports drink for performance and recovery. The positive side is that they are high in electrolytes, which are needed for rehydrating the body efficiently. However, the negative side is that many of these drink companies are using false advertising to make more money. When you look at the ingredients, the majority of them are loaded with sugars, artificial sweeteners, colorings, preservatives and flavoring, all of which inhibit optimal health. So before you stockpile your favorite blue sports drink, make sure to take a look at the nutrition label first.
Choose Healthy Drinks To Consume
Most fluid throughout the day should be water. If you have a hard time staying motivated by drinking plain water, spice it up by infusing your water with fruits and herbs overnight. This way you can even get some antioxidants in there as well!
Fluid replacement drinks may be recommended after long and intense workouts or high levels of fluid loss from sweat. These should include electrolytes as well as sodium for quicker fluid absorption.
Coconut water is a great natural drink when lots of fluid has been lost because it contains natural electrolytes.
Organic celery juice can easily be made at home and is a great way to restore sodium levels and hydrate at the same time.
High Water Content Foods
An easy way to add extra fluid into your diet is by increasing the amount of water-dense foods you consume. If you are an athlete, processed foods, which are usually packed with high salt levels and unhealthy additives, should already be reduced. Adding more watermelon, oranges, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, and melons to your meals as a side can easily boost your fluid intake each day.
Make Hydration Part Of Your Routine
While you should be drinking fluid before, during, and after workouts, you should also make it a priority to drink throughout the day and evening as well. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to gulp down a big glass of water. Sipping on water, instead of chugging water when you feel utterly thirsty, can help your body as well as your cells to rehydrate efficiently . Another easy way to get extra fluid is by drinking a full glass of water before each meal, and right when you wake up in the morning.
If you are an athlete, please don’t underestimate the simple practice of drinking enough liquids! It could be the thing that holds you back or propels you forward.
If you are in the Kansas City area and need a quick hydration boost, in2GREAT offers an IV Hydration Therapy specifically designed for elite athletes . It can help you hydrate quickly so you can perform at your optimal levels. This cocktail includes:
- Specific B Vitamins
- Methylcobalamin (B12)
- Vitamin C
If you’re located near Kansas City, the in2GREAT functional medicine clinic can be extremely beneficial to your health. If you want to stay hydrated to ensure optimal athletic performance, get in touch with in2GREAT at (913) 308-0174. Not only do they offer IV therapies, but they also offer personalized medicine to help you reach your full potential