Hydration is one of the EASIEST things an athlete can do to better performance. But how much water should a teen athlete drink? WHY is being hydrated so important? What happens when you are dehydrated? We will explore the answers to all of these questions in this blog post.
How much fluid should I drink?
Everyone's fluid needs are DIFFERENT but a good place to start is to take your body weight and divide it by 2 and that is your goal in ounces daily. For example, if an athlete weighs 120 lbs, the athlete needs to consume a minimum of 60 oz of fluid DAILY for their baseline needs. Baseline needs meaning an athlete needs to consume MORE fluid when you add in training and/or living in a hot climate. Typically, I have athletes add in 20 oz of fluid per hour of training.
Water is so important because it makes up 55-65% of your body weight and helps to circulate your blood. Circulating blood allows OXYGEN and nutrients to make it to your muscles. Muscles hold water and it is very important for muscle function. Water is also important to help regulate your body temperature through SWEAT. Remember, you can live longer without food than you can without water - that is how important water is.
What counts as fluid when it comes to hydration?
Obviously water counts but what else? Fluids like milk, juice and sports drinks also go towards an athlete's fluid intake. Other drinks like coffee and tea also count! Smoothies count too. Fruits and vegetables have high water content so also can be counted towards your fluid intake. Soup is another hydrating food. However, it may be easier to only count what you drink!
What happens to dehydrated athletes?
First, anywhere from 2/3 - 3/4 of athletes are showing up DEHYDRATED. Dehydration is when an athlete loses as little as 2% of their body weight because of fluid loss during training/competing. An athlete's performance is compromised. What exactly does that mean?
A dehydrated athlete is lethargic, fatigues early and has trouble tolerating heat. A dehydrated athlete also has decreased endurance and strength. No one wants this! Another way to visualize this is a hydrated muscle as a grape and a dehydrated muscle as a raisin. A hydrated muscle is full of water and all the nutrients (AND OXYGEN) are able to get to it. A dehydrated muscle is low on water and can get stuck, cramp and is more likely to get injured.
Signs of Dehydration
Signs of dehydration are thirst, dry mouth, headache, reduced sweating, drowsy, an increased heart rate and weight loss (from fluid loss). What I hear the most from my athletes is HEADACHES. Dehydration STRESSES out the body.
Hydrated athletes have a competitive advantage. Not only do they have increased endurance and strength they are able to maintain their mental status. The mental part of the game is SO important and hydration helps you stay tough.
Hydrated athletes have reduced muscle cramps, delay physical fatigue, improved body heat regulation and speeds up your recovery from training/competing.
How to know if I am hydrated?
One way to tell if you are hydrated is to look at the color of your urine. Aim for your urine to be a pale yellow lemonade color. While it is widely believed your urine should be clear, that can actually be a sign of OVERHYDRATION. When your urine hits the color of apple juice, it is a sign your body needs more fluid.
Observing how you feel - are you feeling overtired, do you have a headache, really being mindful of your body can help you identify this. Extreme thirst can also be a sign of dehydration.
How to be a hydrated athlete
Some steps you can take to be a HYDRATED athlete is to determine your baseline fluid needs, and figure out how many of your water bottles per day you need to drink to hit that number. Making a schedule can be helpful to figure out WHEN you will get your fluids in. DRINK during practice and competitions --> aim for 3-4 BIG gulps every 10-15 minutes.
Finally, it is important to be hydrated ALL THE TIME, not only on game day. You cannot make up for dehydration in ONE day. Hydration is one of the easiest things you can do to improve performance - get started hydrating today. Want help with your hydration and nutrition? Book a nutrition session with me today.