Every fitness fanatic knows that keeping their body hydrated with adequate fluid intake is crucial for supporting athletic performance and recovery. However, it can be difficult to tell if your current hydration strategy is working, as your body won’t alert you that it’s thirsty until you’re already dehydrated. What’s more, it can be hard to detect the early signs of fluid deficit.
Adequate hydration is just as essential as proper nutrition for enhancing your sporting performance. Here, we look at how you can tell if your current hydration strategy is working, and whether simply drinking plenty of water can ever be enough.
Do You Need to Reassess Your Hydration Strategy?
If you meet any of the following criteria, you may need to reassess your hydration strategy to make sure you’re supporting your body as best as possible:
- You regularly train at a high intensity or for long durations that increase your sweat rate, resulting in your body losing extra fluid
- You exercise indoors or in a warm or humid environment. These conditions can raise your temperature significantly, stopping sweat from evaporating from your body as easily
- You exercise in a cold environment; cold air can promote the loss of respiratory fluid, and your sweat rate can be increased if you’re wearing extra layers of clothing
- Your body weight is above average; heavier athletes can be more prone to dehydration
- You train at a high altitude. When you reach 8,200ft, your urine output increases, and respiratory water loss is more common, due to changes in your breathing
How Much Fluid Do I Need?
In warmer climates and training conditions, athletes can lose between 0.5 and 2 litres of water per hour.
A good tip for estimating how much fluid you need to support your workout is to weigh yourself before and after training on three consecutive days, in a representative climate. For every pound you’ve lost, you’ll need to consume roughly 1 pint of extra fluids to keep yourself sufficiently hydrated.
Is Water Alone the Most Effective Hydrator?
Water is an essential nutrient and should be an integral part of everyone’s diet, but especially for athletes. Drinking water alone to keep your body hydrated will provide you with sufficient hydration for around an hour in a temperate climate, as long as you’re drinking it regularly throughout that hour.
However, if you’re sweating heavily on a regular basis as part of an intense training regime, water alone is unlikely to be enough.
There can be several disadvantages to drinking only water, including increasing your risk of hyponatremia (low blood-sodium levels). What’s more, water can sit in your stomach for longer than beverages containing sodium and carbohydrates, and it can affect your desire to drink later in your workout, leaving you dehydrated as a result. These reasons are why many athletes opt for a specially formulated hydration beverage.
What Makes the Perfect Hydrating Drink to Support a Workout?
The hydrating ability of a workout drink depends on the following variables:
- Sodium – Including this mineral in a hydrating beverage can help to: replace sodium lost via sweat; sustain your thirst mechanism, encouraging you to drink more; mildly reduce your urine output, keeping the fluid you’re drinking in your bloodstream for longer
- Potassium, magnesium and calcium – Large amounts of these are not necessary in a workout drink, but your body does lose them when sweating
- Carbohydrates – Carbs are not just a source of energy; they also play a key role in supporting the absorption of fluid through your intestinal wall, helping it to reach the bloodstream faster
- Taste – Finally, any hydrating beverage needs to taste good, because you’ll be drinking significant amounts of it!
Our Klean Hydration dietary supplement contains a carefully formulated blend of each of these ingredients and is perfect for boosting your workout performance and post-workout recovery.