The Ideal Hydration Levels for Practicing Sports

It's quite important to stay hydrated and drink enough fluids every day. especially so for athletes and those who stay active with high intensity training. Water or energy drinks after exercising, and also during the exercise will help towards your success.
The Ideal Hydration Levels for Practicing Sports

Last update: 06 June, 2019

One of the main rules when training is that you need to drink plenty of fluids. Sweating results in the loss of fluids. Thus, exercise should go together with drinking an abundance of liquids. But, many may wonder what the ideal hydration levels for athletes are?

When practicing sports, sweating regulates your temperature and avoids overheating. If you didn’t sweat, you’d definitely see your temperature rise above 98.6 degrees F. However, this temperature regulating system that the body uses implies eliminating many minerals in the process.

What’s the importance of hydration levels when exercising?

We need to replenish the liquids that the body expels in sweat almost immediately. This is especially true for high performing athletes who practice sports for long periods of time. Experts cite that in professional cycling, rowing, or running, athletes must maintain their hydration levels before and after competing.

All sports increase the body temperature and heart rate, therefore dehydrating the body by sweating. And so, we must remember that staying hydrated is also necessary for other less demanding activities.

The human body is mostly water–approximately 60 percent of your body weight–according to experts. Therefore, a drop in fluid levels can cause damage to the body. Among other functions, water lubricates joints and transports nutrients.

When it turns into sweat, water not only regulates temperature but also expels metabolic waste.

Ideal hydration levels for practicing strenuous sports

The ideal hydration levels for practicing strenuous sports is calculated from the amount of sweat and loss of liquid during the activity. Additionally, it also considers external factors such as environmental humidity and temperature, as well as altitude.

Cycling is a strenuous sport that requires high hydration levels in athletes.

Once we’ve established these variables, athletes can perform a sweat test. This consists of weighing the person before and after exercising to see the changes in body mass.  However, in order for the test to be efficient, the athlete can’t ingest anything or use the bathroom during that time period.

Then we multiply the differences that we find between the two weights, before and after, by one thousand. And so, this result is the net milliliters fluid loss during that exercise.

We can also estimate the amount of liquid loss by the hour with a sweat rate. In order to perform these calculations, we divide the net milliliters of liquid lost by the minutes of exercise performed and multiply that by 60 minutes.

This sweat test provides precise information on how much and when we should hydrate before, during and after exercising. However, this isn’t that easy. The human body can’t process more than 800 milliliters of water in one hour.

Therefore, maintaining hydration levels high after exercising isn’t enough, we must do it before and during training.

Tips to maintain hydration levels high

Follow these tips to maintain your hydration levels when training, participating in strenuous sports or other physical activities:

  • Thirst is a symptom that indicates you’ve lost liquids. Thus, this means that you shouldn’t wait to feel thirsty to drink water.
  • As a rule of thumb, we must drink about 500 ml of water two hours before exercising. Then, every 15 to 20 minutes we should replenish 100 to 150 ml of water. And when we finish, we must drink 500 milliliters more.
  • If you’re performing a low-intensity activity, where you don’t sweat much, and it’s less than one hour, you can drink a total of 500 ml. However, you must divide this amount into three periods: before, during and after training.
  • Water, or your preferred drink, shouldn’t be too cold. The minimum temperature for drinking water is 50 degrees F. Consequently, if the water is cooler than that, your body will have to regulate it before assimilating the ingested liquid.
  • Isotonic beverages are good when practicing intense activities for long periods of time. And so, these drinks prevent fatigue and help replenish minerals, liquid, and glucose.
How to maintain hydration levels high during exercise

How to prepare an isotonic drink at home

Finally, we’d like to share the recipe for an isotonic drink you can make at home and keep handy when exercising. However, remember that during your training session, you must drink in small sips and not during moments of high intensity. During the high-intensity moments of your training, your body needs oxygen more than water.

  • Water: 1 liter
  • Sugar: 3 tablespoons
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda): 1 teaspoon
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon
  • Juice from one lime
  • Finally, mix all the ingredients and you can start drinking it right away.

To conclude, hydration is an essential aspect that we can’t overlook when practicing strenuous training. Otherwise, we risk suffering from serious injuries such as muscle cramps or even heat strokes.

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