7 Common Hydration Mistakes Athletes Make

Hydration should be easy, right? You get thirsty, and you drink something. Why do so many athletes struggle with keeping hydrated when running or training? Andy Blow goes over the frequent blunders and how to address them.

1. Don’t drink too much

It can be uncommonly hard for lasting athletes to properly manage their liquid intake due to feeling anxious, an irrational concern about getting dehydrated, or a mix of both. However, in the run-up to major competition, consuming too much water is a widespread issue. In certain instances, it can prove to be quite damaging to one’s health and efficacy.

If you want to reach your peak performance, it is crucial to remain adequately hydrated. The body can only keep so much fluid when it is full.

If you keep drinking in excess (especially when it comes to plain water or any other fluids with little sodium in it), the body will instinctively get you to urinate more to eliminate the surplus.

When this occurs, the electrolytes, particularly sodium, that were taken in with the fluid begin to be excreted and if this keeps up, it can become an issue, particularly when engaging in prolonged athletic events wherein substantial amounts of electrolytes are lost from perspiration.

One of the top priorities for an endurance athlete should be abstaining from consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, as it is the most common hydration mistake.

2. Don’t drink too little

It is likewise possible to drink too little water, which is equally detrimental to your health. Eventually, lack of hydration to a great extent will hurt performance.

Although there is great fear surrounding dehydration, in reality, it rarely causes a person to become seriously dehydrated during exercises and competitions.

Athletes usually have access to plenty of water or sports drinks during races and practices and can refresh when they feel thirsty.

Even though some scientists have critiqued it in the past, thirst is actually an effective way to alert you when it is time to quench your thirst.

As long as you consume enough water to stop intense thirst, which is usually the case when someone has free access to drinking water, then you should easily pass a minimum for the amount of liquid you need.

There are exceptions though and clearly, athletes do become dehydrated at times and this can happen for a few different reasons:

* Running out of fluids. If you don’t plan ahead and bring a sufficient amount of liquids for your session or race, there is a possibility of not having access to enough beverages, resulting in running out. Anticipate problems in advance to avert any conflicts.

Beginning a session or race with an already reduced amount of liquid. Once more, this can be blamed on a lack of forethought or getting ready; so it makes sense to use effort to ensure the pre-exercise or exercise hydration plan is in place to avoid this error.

Beginners athletes not paying attention to their physical signs and signals. Almost everyone would consume a lot of fluids when severely dehydrated, however, beginners in the sport don’t have the same level of familiarity with their body functions as more experienced athletes.

Given that they may be concentrated on another important task during a race, athletes may not notice signs of hydration/thirstiness, leading to a lack of fluids that they can’t quickly fix before it’s already been done.

* At times when sweat rates are excessive. In certain scenarios where the atmosphere is very warm, if athletes put in a lot of effort, or if they already sweat a lot, they can lose fluid faster than they can replenish it, even when consuming large quantities of liquid.

Given the current situation, lack of hydration is an expected outcome of physical activity and can be a cause of how long and intensely you can exercise.

In the long run, the most effective way to prevent not drinking enough liquids is to employ both deliberate and intuitive tactics.

Indulge in beverages when you are sure you can trust them. If you’re new to this activity, take some time to think about how thirsty you are during longer events or competitions.

* Check your pee. If you are only going to the bathroom infrequently, and your urine is quite dark, this can be a sign that you are getting dehydrated, and you should drink more water. If you are urinating frequently with a light colour, it can be a sign that you are consuming too many liquids, so think about reducing your intake.

* Monitor changes in your body weight. It can be advantageous to measure your morning weight before doing anything else, such as eating, drinking, or going to the bathroom, when you are undertaking intense exercise.

If you have lost more than 1.5% of your body weight since the day before and you feel especially parched and the colour of your urine is very dark, it is a sign that you may be dehydrated and you should try to increase your fluid intake on that day.

* Learn from experience. Pay attention to how much you drink in important rehearsal sessions and competitions and compare that with how you’re progressing, how fast you’re bouncing back, and how you feel hydrated to gain a better sense of what your body needs as time passes.

3. Believing only water counts

To put it another way, the widely accepted belief that all individuals must consume 8 8-ounce cups of water each day is false. In actuality, each individual’s water requirements differ substantially and can fluctuate from one day to the next.

The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board recommends a daily intake to avoid any potential damage caused by dehydration.

Young women aged 19-30 should consume 91 ounces or 11 cups of water a day, and young men should have 101 ounces or 13 cups of water a day.

The total amount of water consumed by someone is derived from the combination of drinking water, various beverages (including those with caffeine, but not alcoholic beverages) and food.

Typically, 80% of our required hydration can be derived from liquids (such as water and other drinks), while the additional 20% originates from the water found in our food.

Coach athletes to include nutritious beverages in their diet daily, such as 100-per cent vegetable and fruit juices (high in vitamins A and C) and fat-free milk (which has a lot of calcium, vitamin D and protein).

Beverages that take the place of a meal, as well as sports (electrolyte replacement) drinks, give easily the power, carbohydrates, and electrolytes that are necessary ahead of, during, and after strenuous or extended exercise.

4. Following someone else’s drinking schedule

A single solution to rehydration does not consider the varying perspiration rates of athletes (which can be influenced by factors such as heredity or fitness levels) and can be extraordinarily harmful during gruelling workouts or times of extreme temperatures.

The number of fluids an athlete needs to consume while exercising should be based on the volume of fluids they sweat out regardless of how much is suggested by the group. There is no single standard for when and how much to drink during exercise.

Prominent organizations such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Athletic Trainers Association have stopped supplying athletes with exact proportions for hydration during physical activity.

Inform athletes on how water deprivation impacts their sporting abilities and encourage them to take ownership of their own health.

The amount of liquids an athlete needs to drink is heavily dependent on several factors, including their own body abilities and fitness level, the intensity and length of the workout, clothing type, protective gear and the current weather conditions (like heat, humidity, and wind).

A good guideline for athletes to follow is to watch the hue of their urine during the day. If the urine is a pale yellow, it indicates that the athlete is not consuming an adequate amount of liquids.

A bathroom scale also can be useful. Athletes should check their weight before and immediately after engaging in physical activity. Train them to consume a minimum of 2.5 cups to totally replenish every pound that was eliminated during exercise.

If an athlete loses more than 2% of their body mass (e.g. 3 pounds if they weigh 150 pounds) during a single session of exercise, they need to make sure they are adequately hydrated.

5. Training habits have changed, but drinking habits haven’t

As an athlete advances to the next level of their sport, they are likely to find that the amount of work required in both training and competing increases greatly, as does its frequency and duration. We usually do not dedicate much time and focus to revising and overseeing hydration guidelines.

The various ways in which individuals respond to varying levels of fluids, as well as changes in the environment (such as hot weather) and sports activities (such as rest stops and availability of water) can make it tough on athletes and their carers alike.

Coaches may demand that their players drink fluids during practices and games, just like they require them to do other exercises and training activities. It is important to become familiar with sports drinks and learn the proper drinking techniques during your training sessions before using them in a competition.

A tournament over the weekend is not the ideal time to discover that no one is a fan of the flavour of the lavender sports drink. Stay within the bounds of science when providing advice to athletes, and make sure there is a way to keep track of weights before, during and after any physical activity.

6. Avoiding sports drinks during workouts

Athletes often restrict themselves from taking advantage of sports drinks, either out of fear, of not utilizing them correctly or due to guidance from their coach to stay away from them. A sports drink created to be used during physical activity should have a good quantity of carbohydrates and enough salt.

Carbohydrates, stored in the body as glycogen, are the most preferred energy source while doing physical activity, and they are the only form of fuel that can be used during more intense or oxygen-free efforts like accelerations, trying the hardest, and quickly reaching the endpoint.

Carbohydrates are extremely beneficial to athletes undergoing strenuous or relatively long workouts or multiple serious efforts over several days. This is because glycogen levels are finite, and supplementing with a carb is a great way to increase performance.

A pinch of salt is mixed in sports drinks to encourage us to stay hydrated while exercising, aid in the digestion of carbohydrates, and replenish the sodium lost through perspiration.

Athletes should devote time to strengthening their core and digestive systems just like they do to develop their physical body and mental faculties.

Guide people in the right direction by presenting reliable data concerning the utilization of sports beverages while exercising (researchers have had confidence in them for over 30 years). Additionally, ensure access to the best possible rehydrating solutions (water plus carbs and electrolytes, mainly sodium) while doing a workout.

7. Avoid too many drinks at the post-race party

Individuals become intoxicated rapidly when they are not experienced with drinking alcohol and when their bodies lack hydration (the alcohol concentration is higher since the body’s total body water is low).

Drinking excessively at the celebration after not having any alcohol for a while in addition to still being dehydrated from the race can equate to a terrible outcome.

Side notes

If you have difficulty comprehending the ongoing advice about what, when and how much liquid athletes should drink, especially while amid exercise, then you are not alone. The old saying “have a drink before you feel thirsty” is no longer applicable.

Advice given to athletes based on guidelines produced from research should ensure their safety and help avoid mistakes commonly made when it comes to hydration.


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