Sports nutrition, just like general nutrition, must be planned to meet individual needs. However, there are a few general rules of proper hydration and fueling that a person can follow to improve his or her performance and health. My first post about sports nutrition will address “The Rules of Hydration.”
Rule #1 Hydrate before, during, and after physical activity. Proper hydration for exercise begins far before the activity takes place. Additionally, water replacement should continue during and after physical activity. I will address the logistics of hydration timing in a second post.
Rule #2 Pay attention to climate. Heat, humidity, and altitude play largely into the amount of water your body needs to function. Thus, it is easier to deplete your system in more intense environments. Also take into consideration that well trained athletes sweat more. Therefore, those who are in better shape need more water to replace an increased amount of sweat loss.
Rule #3 Don’t wait until you are thirsty to hydrate. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, sleepiness, thirst, decreased urine output, dry skin, headache, constipation, and dizziness. Keep in mind however, dehydration can occur before symptoms appear.
Rule #4 Take into account the duration and intensity of the exercise. Those who exercise more intensely such as sports athletes and endurance runners go through their water, carbohydrate, and electrolyte stores more quickly.
Remember, hydration is not only important for exercise, but also for daily activities.
American Dietetic Association. (2009, January 1). Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine from the Academy: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8365
Blatner, D. (2012, December 1). Play Ball! Tips for the Weekend Baseball Warrior. from the Academy. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442463944
Mayo Clinic. (2014, February 12). Dehydration. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/basics/symptoms/con-20030056
Quinn, E. (2014, January 1). How Much Water Should You Drink Proper Hydration During Exercise?. About.com Sports Medicine. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/hydrationandfluid/a/ProperHydration.htm