Previously in our series of articles and tips covering nutrition for college athletes we have discussed the dietary knowledge of NCAA division I athletes, and the deleterious effects of dehydration on athletic performance and even on academic performance.
In this post we are going to go over hydration strategies for athletes that will help them to stay on top of their water intake so that they can perform best when it matters most.
Here we go!
1. Start off your mornings with a big glass of water. It’s tempting to think that we only lose significant amounts of water volume from sweating like crazy during our workous, but that’s not the case. With every breath that you take (every move you make) you are expelling water vapor. Not much, a barely perceptible amount, in fact, but when you cnisder that we take about 20,000 breaths per day it starts to add up pretty quickly! This is why we wake up slightly dehydrated, some of with more cotton-mouthedness than others. Have a water bottle or a tall glass ready to go bedside when you wake up to replenish water lost over the course of sleeping.
2. Drink water regularly, not just when you are working out. Over the course of a regular day you are losing 2.5 cups of water just from mouth-breathing. True story! When we hit the gym we are always concious of drinking water, but when we are going through our day it’s easy to forget to hit the water fountain or take sips from your water bottle. But proper hydration isn’t just something that you should be attentive to when you are at the gym, it should be an all-day long habit. When you leave the house in the morning check for the essentials; wallet, cell phone, keys, water bottle.
3. Top up your hydration before your workouts. Most athletes will wait until they are dry-mouthed with thirst to start drinking water. Chris Algieri, former WBO Junior Welterweight Champion and performance nutrition coach at Stony Brook University, recommends that athletes top up their hydration by drinking between 16 and 20 ounces of water about an hour before your workout routine or practice. During your workouts continue to consumer 6-8oz for every 20 minutes of activity, and hit the water bottle big-time afterwards to fully replenish with 20-24 ounces of water.
4. Gatorade vs. Water. Electrolyte drinks have become super popular in gyms and on sidelines since its development at the University of Florida in the 1960’s. The benefits of these often sugar-laden drinks are relatively limited when your workouts last an hour or less. They can, however, be helpful in slowing performance decline during exercise and workouts lasting longer than an hour. Carb-based drinks, like Gatorade and Powerade, can help boost performance. Research has shown that doing just a mouth-rinse with carb drinks can trick the brain into thinking that more energy is coming down the pipes. An optimal amount is 30-50g of carbohydrates per hour of exercise to help keep your performance on track. Additionally, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adding sodium to your workout drink mix will help to maintain fluid retention so that you aren’t peeing every 20 seconds during your workouts.
When it comes to having better workouts, being properly hydrated is as easy and as effective as it gets.
Not only will you perform better over the course of your training, but your body’s metabolic processes will work more efficiently, you will recover faster, and you will even have more energy.
That’s a pretty good return on making a handful of trips to the water fountain over the day.