Hydration is a powerful tool to boost your energy during exercise. Beginning physical activity even slightly dehydrated will already start you off with a disadvantage. Then as you begin exercising, dehydration becomes increasingly possible because of excess sweat and hard breathing. In order to stay well hydrated, it is important to drink fluids before, during, and after exercise.
Developing a hydration plan is one of the best ways to minimize the risk of dehydration.
While these general guidelines can help you hydrate directly before and after physical activity, it is important to drink enough fluids to remain hydrated every day. Most people learn in school to drink 8, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. However, this is a general recommendation. The amount of water you need varies depending on the climate, your physical activity level, and your body composition.
What counts as a hydrating fluid?
While water is the most obvious source of fluid, it’s not the only way we can hydrate throughout the day. Most of us get about 80% of our fluids from water. Sparkling water, unsweetened coconut water, and decaffeinated tea are all great alternatives to water. Other beverages, such as juice and milk can count as fluid too since many contain about 88% water. Even food contains water! Think of fruits and vegetables as the water you chew. Many types of produce, especially watermelon, lettuce, apples, grapes, and carrots are made up of over 85% water. Be sure to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables to benefit from the nutrition and hydration.
What about sports drinks?
Sports drinks are an ideal option for athletes who are continuously exercising for more than one hour. Sports drinks contain both electrolytes and carbohydrates to replace electrolytes lost in sweat, while also providing quick energy. Commercial sports drinks are portable and convenient to take to practices and games. When its extra hot and humid outside, try freezing the drink head of time so that it’s cold and slushy by the time you drink it. Additionally, diluting 100% fruit juice in water (with about a 15:1 water to juice ration) can be a great alternative to a sports drink.
Drinks that contain caffeine, such as energy drinks and coffee, should be avoided. Too much caffeine can make you jittery while also increasing your blood pressure, heart rate, and internal body temperature.
Diego’s Sports Drink is a homemade option that provides carbohydrates, electrolytes, and water!