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Finding the Balance of Hydration in Athletes

It is a given: staying hydrated is vital. Most of us are aware when we have a need for thirst and work to drink water throughout our day. What happens when your intake of water is insufficient, or when temperatures start to warm up outside and you are working to increase performance? See how to make sure you are getting enough water throughout your day, and your workout.

Importance of Proper Hydration During Warmer Months

Dehydration in the United States has been gaining a lot of attention; it is reported that 50% of all children and adolescents are not getting enough fluids, according to Harvard School of Public Health. Take that statistic, add in a warm day, and playing sports. It starts to add up. When the body is properly hydrated, it performs at its best with improved muscle function and circulation and regulated blood pressure. When the body is dehydrated, muscles are apt to cramp, and the athlete can face fatigue. Once fatigue sets in, it can lead to an increased risk for injury. In addition, staying properly hydrated keeps the body’s temperature regulated, keeping the body from overheating and causing heat exhaustion or stroke.

Are You Staying Hydrated? How to Know if Your Liquid Intake is Enough

If you have not heard, the best way to check if you are getting enough fluid is to check the color of your urine in the bathroom. Yes. Do it! The color of your urine says volumes about your hydration intake. If your urine is a light lemonade color, you are properly hydrated. Whenever this color darkens, it signals dehydration and it is time to up your water intake. Another way to check on this is to weigh yourself before and after exercise. For every pound lost during exercise, it represents a pound of water you have lost. While training or competing, a rule of thumb to follow is to maintain no more than 2% of body weight loss.

Regulating Hydration, Electrolyte Drinks, and Physical Activity

Recent studies suggest drinking ½ – 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight to maintain proper hydration. When you are training, this needs to increase. To keep from extreme water loss in your body, it is advised to start drinking water prior to an event or training and to continue to drink water every 15 – 20 minutes while engaged in exercise. After training is over, continue to restore hydration in the body. Following these guidelines will no doubt keep you hydrated, and therefore, your body will function properly during and after training.

At times, increasing water intake may not be enough, as valuable electrolytes are lost during periods of sweating. If exercise lasts longer than an hour, training is intense, sweating is intense, or you are practicing in humid or hot conditions, it is recommended to replenish electrolytes. These can be found in sports drinks, or electrolyte replacement tablets – which have little or no sugar added. As you consider adding in electrolytes, it is recommended to add 110-240 mg of sodium per 8 oz serving to replace fluid and electrolytes which are lost during heavy physical exertion.

Electrolytes contain the nutrients sodium and chloride (salt), magnesium, calcium, chloride which keep the nervous system a muscular-skeletal system in check during prolonged exercise, especially periods of continued sweating. This might be why an increase in desire for salty foods in the summer is a natural response to the loss of liquid due to sweating, as sodium and chloride are two of the main electrolytes lost through sweating.

Proper nutrition contributes to 20 percent of daily fluid intake. Eating foods filled with water, minerals, and carbohydrates help restore electrolytes and hydration lost. Consider adding strawberries, watermelon, and tomatoes to your diet to aid in hydration. Enhancing water with cucumber slices or fruit can encourage young athletes to drink more, while providing flavor and extra hydration! Training can be maintained in heat and humidity with proper hydration and electrolyte balance. Staying hydrated before, during, and after the game ensures that peak performance is attained. Monitoring weight, nutrition, and urine color can ensure that each muscle is performing at highest levels, blood pressure remains stable, and circulation is strong.

Knoxville, TN, Elite Basketball Training at Priority One Athletics

At Priority 1 Athletics, we provide elite basketball training to athletes of all ages and experience. We begin with individual evaluations to develop a tailored program for each athlete. Our mission is not to make the best player on each team but to make each player the best that they can be. Priority 1 Athletics in Knoxville, TN, develops athletes’ weaknesses, while fostering growth and confidence in their strengths. We’ll help you or your athlete meet and exceed goals to play better basketball, while keeping nutrition and hydration in check!