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Naples Daily News (Florida)
While most people know you never want to start a workout dehydrated, another problem, hyponatremia, is also proving problematic and creating concern. So how much water or sports drink should an athlete consume to maintain proper hydration status?
It's a fact that the average person needs 64-80 oz or 8-10, 8 oz glasses of fluid per day for the body to function normally. It is also universally accepted that people who participate in regular endurance activities need even more.
Additionally, athletes can increase heat production and raise core temperature up to 20 times that of their sedentary counterparts. They must dissipate that heat to regulate and stabilize body temperature and the body does this through sweating, which, of course, leads to more water loss.
During a high-intensity training session, you could lose 16-24 oz of fluid through sweat per hour and if this fluid isn't replenished, dehydration will set in. Dehydration causes a rise in heart rate, an increase in blood pressure, a higher rate of perceived effort, and a decline in performance. In fact, dehydration of as little as 1 percent leads to noticeably diminished performance.
To account for fluid losses from high-intensity exercises, you need to think about drinking not just after training, but before and during as well. If you start your training session under-hydrated, you'll be fighting a losing battle.
Your hydration strategy should start before you even walk out the door. Be aware of your fluid intake throughout the day and consume 8-16 oz, 15-30 minutes before you exercise, depending on your tolerance of fluids, and the temperature and humidity.
During training, aim to drink 4 oz every 15 minutes, again, depending on individual tolerance, exercise intensity, and environmental conditions. If you are exercising for an hour or more, sports drinks, containing electrolytes such as salt and potassium, as well as easily digested carbohydrates, are more effective at delaying fatigue and enhancing performance than plain water.
Post-exercise, it would be ideal if you would consume the same volume of fluid after a workout that you lost through sweating. A good way to gauge fluid loss from a workout is to weigh yourself pre- and post-training to see how much weight has been lost.
There's been increasing talk about the dangers of drinking only water during endurance events following several cases of hyponatremia, a dangerous, potentially fatal, condition where sodium concentrations in the blood drop excessively. This has been further spurred by the 'drink, drink, drink' message being over-interpreted, causing some people to take on more fluid than they needed. The bottom line is listening to your body and using your head. If you feel thirsty, drink. And if you're out more than an hour, include sports drinks containing electrolytes.
Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist from Fort Myers, Florida. She is a USA Triathlon Advanced Level 2 coach, Ironman Certified coach, Slowtwitch Certified coach, USA Cycling coach and has a Specialty in Sports Nutrition certification. For more training tips, read her blog at www.triathlontrainingisfun.com or contact her at www.gearedup.biz.
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