There are tons of benefits of proper hydration for athletes, you just need to read this article to understand them better. Of all the fitness tips on my website, understanding the importance of proper hydration is probably the most important for each and every one of us.
Water is no doubt essential for life.
Humans can survive for only a very few days without water. This is unsurprising since the human body is composed of 75 percent water in the body weight of infants, and 55 percent of the body weight in the elderly.
Water is essential for cellular homeostasis, and life itself.
The importance of hydration is clear for everyone on this planet, and even more so for athletes!
Hydration itself is the process of replacing lost water in the body; which can be achieved by drinking water, eating foods that contain water, drinking other fluids which are largely composed of water, and eating fruits that contain high amounts of water.
Want to learn more about why it is so necessary that you maintain hydration levels at all time? Keep reading below!
Hydration for Athletes – Why is It Important?
No matter what athletic function you are participating in, it is vital that you ensure yourself of proper hydration by drinking the right amount of water before, during, and after your training sessions.
Whether you are a serious athlete, or just exercising for recreational purposes, water is important to the ability of your body to function.
Beginning your training or competition with an adequate hydration level is just one aspect of the importance of hydration, as maintaining that hydration level during exercise itself is just as necessary!
There are many different benefits of proper hydration for athletes, all which result in an increased ability to exercise and perform.
Water is your body’s natural cooling agent; necessary for exercise or physical activity.
There are many benefits of staying well hydrated for athletes, so keep reading below to find out some of the ones I think are most important!
Hydrating Yourself Before Competition Will Allow You to Focus on the Competition More Freely!
Overall, there are lots of benefits of staying hydrated while competing in athletic events.
One of the most important aspects of using the best drinks for staying hydrated before competition is that when you prepare for training or competition by properly hydrating, you will not need to focus on your hydration levels as much while you are in competition.
Especially compare to an athlete who is dehydrated to begin the match or game, you will be able to focus much more on the competition at hand.
Regardless, our body will shut down when it becomes dehydrated. so, it’s better to start off with a proper level of hydration!
Hydrating Before Competition Allows You to Stabilize Hydration Levels More Efficiently
Physiologic mechanisms are compromised when you exercise while being hypo-hydrated, and the extent of this dysfunction is related to the extent of thermal stress that is experienced by the athlete.
Hydrating several hours before exercise or competition provides you with the sufficient time for urine output to normalize before starting your training, or competition.
Drinking 2 liters of water directly before exercise will not help you!
Hydration should be a consistent activity throughout your day, so that your body has the proper amount of time to balance hydration levels throughout itself and excrete what isn’t necessary.
One of my favorite strategies for becoming hydrated before a big basketball game is to drink the best hydration drinks throughout the day until about 3 hours before game time.
Drinking tea is an excellent way to maintain your hydration levels, and the caffeine helps to normalize the amount of fluids in your body as well.
For me, this strategy works great!
Helping to Carry Nutrients Throughout the Body
The importance of hydration stretches to the carrying of nutrients and oxygen to cells, as these functions will dramatically slow down when dehydrated.
Hydration is responsible for maintaining the health and integrity of all the cells in the body.
Without water, you will die! (Literally)
As I said before, water is the body’s natural cooling agent.
To regulate your body temperature through sweating, you need to be hydrated!
If not, your body will over heat much faster, causing excess fatigue sooner.
Being hydrated helps to remove waste, including lactic acid and other toxins.
Protein, BCAAs, and several other supplements are excellent for helping you recover from training and have a “fresh” body, but they all pale in comparison to what water can do for you.
Properly hydrating from your previous workout is the absolute best way to recover and remove build-up of waste products in the body.
There are a lot of effective ways to rehydrate after a long training session, but the best way to manage dehydration is to stay hydrated at all times.
Water aids in blood circulation, further improving the movement of nutrients and necessary functions of the body.
Water is responsible for necessary lubrication of joints in the body as well!
You would be surprised how much of an effect staying well hydrated with extra water can have on tendinitis or other joint issues!
Water provides a natural lubrication and cushion for your joints, allowing movements to be performed much more pain free.
Water also helps to cushion the vital organs of the body, in a similar fashion to this.
Athletes need lots of energy to increase their performance, and water helps convert food to necessary energy for training and physical exercise!
What Are the Best Hydration Drinks?
While training, it is important to know the best ways to ensure that you have an adequate amount of fluids in your system. If you want to remain hydrated, you need to best drinks for hydration.
Although I hope this doesn’t really need to be explained, alcohol will not serve as a good way to hydrate. There are a lot of great drinks for hydration out there, and vodka or beer do not count!
The best hydration drink is water, and it is great for exercise that lasts for less than one hour.
Along with this, water is also an excellent hydration drink for training or exercise that takes place on hot and humid days.
Sports drinks that contain carbohydrates, (not above 14 grams per 8 fluid oz.) and electrolytes such as potassium and sodium, have proven to improve voluntary hydration and prevent dehydration better than water alone.
In my personal opinion, though, these should be used with caution. Gatorade and PowerAde are filled with artificial ingredients, and loads of sugar. If not sugar alone, they are also filled with artificial sugar which is even worse!
All four of these are natural sources of hydration, with the additional electrolytes and nutrients you need for training! Normally, I will drink coconut water and birch tree water the night before games, and the morning before.
If you don’t know anything about birch tree water, it has similar effects as the more well-known in Western culture coconut water, with less sugar!
My wife is from Kazakhstan, and she is who introduced me to this drink first. I find the taste to be sweet like a maple syrup flavor almost, and tremendously effective.
Although there have not been any major studies done on its effect, it is well document as being the best drink for hydration in Eastern European and Scandinavian countries.
Luckily, you can easily buy Birch Tree Water online, if you can’t find it in your store at home! Just 1 bottle of birch tree water per day can have incredible effects on your overall levels of hydration, believe me!
I feel this is the best source of additional nutrients for me before my most intense exercise. Regardless of your source of fluid intake, the importance of hydration is always the same!
Along with this, I avoid milk (dairy), and fruit juices on the day of games. Milk, I always avoid.
Dairy milk can have devastating impacts on hydration levels, and is not healthy to drink at all.
Goat milk on the other hand, can be a great source of nutrients when drank at night. This can help to improve hydration levels, while also providing a host of other benefits.
It is recommended that you understand the importance of hydration sources, not only the quantity of liquid you are intaking!
Benefits of Drinking CBD Water for Hydration
If you are interested in trying an even more innovative hydration drink, CBD water is an excellent option!
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant, and Nano-technology has allowed for companies to produce CBD water.
CBD water, such as the one produced by CBD Living, is an excellent drink for hydration in numerous different ways.
Feel free to check out my CBD Living review to read more about cannabidiol itself, and this awesome product!
How to Avoid Dehydration
Dehydration is the opposite of hydration, as it is a condition that occurs when the loss of fluids in the body (especially water) exceeds the amount of fluids or water taken in.
Dehydration implies that more water is moving out of the cells and body than the quantity that is taken in through drinking.
There are several ways you can lose water daily, and for an athlete, water will be lost even faster during workouts.
Water can be lost through the breath we exhale, urine, stool, and sweat. During these processes, we also lose valuable sodium as well.
Thus, making it more difficult for our body to retain water. There are several external conditions outside of physical exercise that can lead to dehydration, including:
- Diseases such as diabetes.
- Lack of safe drinking water available.
- Diarrhea, vomiting, and increased urination as a result of an infection or disease.
- Exposure to high-heat.
The Symptoms and Risks of Dehydration
It is important that athletes, trainers, parents, and coaches all should be able to identify the signs of dehydration; because it can result in potentially life-threatening health conditions. When an athlete becomes dehydrated, their heart rate increases, body temperature can increase to dangerous levels, and the blood flow to the skin decreases.
Dehydration usually results in symptoms known as post-extreme endurance syndrome (PEES), with symptoms including:
- Sunken eyes
- Dry tongue and lips
- Urine which is bright colored, dark, or has a strong odor
- Apathy, or lack of energy
- Decreased volume of urine
- Sudden decline in performance of an athlete (energy, coordination, strength, decision making, etc.)
- Muscle cramps
- Lack of sweating
- Hard, and fast heartbeat
- Dizziness, or lightheaded feeling
What is Heat Stroke and How Can the Best Drinks for Hydration Help Prevent It?
If you needed any more reasons to understand the importance of hydration, heat stroke is right at the top of the list! Probably the most serious symptom of dehydration is heat stroke. A major sign of heat stroke is a body temperature of 104 Fahrenheit, or even higher. In situations, such as this, your skin starts to feel dry and hot to the touch, with a feeling of vomiting.
Symptoms of heat stroke could be seizures, and you may fall into a state of deep unconsciousness. When I am training in hot gyms during the summer, I am especially conscious of this. Heat stroke is no joke, and it is always best to hydrate enough before you come even close to this condition!
Best Way to Rehydrate Quickly and Prevent Dehydration
To protect yourself from dehydration, athletes should take note of the following points:
- Ensure that you intake water with you while training.
- Balance your intake of water with proper electrolytes. Natural sources of electrolytes are best, but sports drink will suffice when necessary.
- Drink plenty of water daily.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks. Alcohol drastically decreases hydration levels, and it takes a while for them to come back after drinking.
- If you feel tired, dizzy, or lightheaded; stop exercising.
In extremely hot or dry weather, it is important that you protect yourself from dehydration even more, and it is much better to work out early in the morning or in the evening when the temperature is cooler. Understanding the importance of hydration in its most basic sense will help you to avoid dehydration and serious side-effects.
How to Prevent Hyponatremia
Hyponatremia is a deadly condition that is caused because of the over-consumption of fluids, where the sodium content of the blood is becomes diluted to dangerous levels.
Although it is very rare in high-level athletes, it has been noticed in endurance competitions and events that last longer than four hours. Triathlons and marathons are particular culprits of this, since the participants take in a large amount of water over several hours without adequate sodium intake.
Effects of hyponatremia include:
- Altered Mental Status
The treatment of such condition is through administering intravenous fluids that contain sodium. The importance of hydration is not only in-taking water alone, but all the necessary electrolytes to maintain all the cellular functions of your body!
How Much Water is Ideal for Athletes?
Considering the fact that everyone is different, there are no exact rules for how much water an athlete should drink while exercising.
There are certain factors that you should consider while thinking of how much water is required including your sweat rate, the humidity of the environment, your heat rate, how long you have been exercising, and how strenuously you are exercising.
According to the American Council on Exercise, the following guidelines were suggested for drinking water before, during, and after training:
- Drink 17-20 ounces of water, 2 to 3 hours before you commence your workout.
- Drink 7-10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes, during training or exercise.
- Take 8 ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you commence your exercise, or during your warm-up.
- Drink 8 ounces of water within 30 minutes of your workout being completed.
Athletes need to measure the quantity of fluid they lost during their workout to get a better measurement of how much water they should drink. (16-24 ounces of water for every pound of body weight that was lost).
This can be done by simply weighing yourself before, and after training. This is a generally good habit to get in to, and will help with developing self-awareness of hydration levels overall.
Hydration is not something to mess around with, and the importance of hydration necessitates it to be understood at all times while exercising.
What is the Effect of Caffeine on Your Hydration Level?
Caffeine in general can have a negative impact on your hydration levels, since it speeds up your metabolism and increases the temperature of your body. However, coffee and tea may have less of an effect on hydration levels than generally thought.
A 2014 study on the level of hydration of coffee drinkers should no variable change in overall hydration after switching from 3-6 cups of coffee per day, to water.
When exercise is factored in, these results could certainly change more. Be cautious of hydration levels when you know that you are drinking excess amounts of caffeine, but don’t become too nervous about coffee and hydration that you miss all the amazing benefits of drinking coffee!
Along with this, it has long been noted that tea has effects equal to water consumption, along with the many other benefits of drinking tea!
Remember, any caffeine ingestion can impact hydration.
Be conscious of this, but don’t be afraid to consume caffeine before training since there are many benefits to be had from tea and Bulletproof Coffee before training! Don’t mistake the importance of hydration for being something which only includes drinking water!
Concluding Thoughts – Hydration Tips for Athletes
When you engage in any competition or go for workouts in a severely dehydrated state, it will affect your performance negatively.
There is no doubt about it! Dehydration negatively influences several aspects of exercise, and decreases your performance.
Having a clear understanding of dehydration includes understanding the symptoms, signs, and early management of dehydration will stop any unnecessary injury or illness to an athlete from dehydration.
Even though water is the primary agent of hydration, sports drinks, tea, coffee, and different types of natural water can be incorporated before, during, and after training to maintain fluid balance in the body.
Apart from the positive effects of hydration on the performance of an athlete, hydration also provides a wide range of other benefits to all necessary human functions! The importance of hydration is real for all of us!