Athletes who are not sure how much fluid to drink can see a sports RD, and monitor hydration using two helpful techniques:
- Weigh yourself before and after practice in minimal clothing. For every pound lost during the workout, drink 2-3 cups (16-24 oz) of fluid to properly rehydrate the body.
- Check urine color. Urine that is dark gold in color indicates dehydration. Urine similar in color to pale lemonade or weak tea is a sign of a hydrated athlete.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration:
- Lack of concentration
- Early fatigue in training
- Difficulty tolerating heat
- Delayed Recovery
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea / Vomiting
- Elevated heart rate above normal
Use the following guidelines for the maintenance of optimal hydration:
- Before Exercise: 16-20 ounces within the two-hour period prior to exercise.
- During Exercise: 4-8 ounces (2-4 gulps) every 15-20 minutes during exercise.
- Post Exercise: Replace 16-24 ounces (2-3 cups) for every one pound of body weight lost during exercise within 30 minutes.
Ask your dietitian if you might benefit from additional sodium, potassium, or if you should include a carbohydrate source during exercise as these nutrients can effect performance as well.
During competitive sports events, it is easy to get caught up in the game and forget to hydrate, so remember to drink whenever water breaks are offered at regular intervals during practice and competition. To properly prepare in advance for your training sessions, Carry a water bottle at all times, try drinking a smoothie, have soups / broths during the day, and include a variety of fruits/veggies with high water content. Staying on track with your hydration plan is the best habit you can have as a competitive athlete, and one factor of performance that is within your control!